Somebody’s got their panties in a twist. Recently, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie claimed that the perhaps over-popular show “Jersey Shore” “takes a bunch of New Yorkers, drops them at the Jersey Shore and tries to make America feel like this is New Jersey”, and that as a result his state is painted badly in the press. Well guess what, govy, I’ve spotted a pattern. It seems that that these… fine people seem to gravitate to your dear state on their own, trucked in just like most of the tristate area’s waste to your landfills. Trashy things just seem to love the armpit of America. However, I think Governor Christie was on to something…
“Jersey Shore” is built around the phenomenon that is “Guido” culture, which I instantly picked up on when viewing the show for the first time last year. Those with a good reality TV memory should have realized that this idea wasn’t as fresh and new as it seemed.
“Growing Up Gotti” was a short lived show on A&E about the Victoria Gotti and her three sons, pictured above in all of their track-suited, blown-out glory. While it wasn’t really anything remarkable in terms of television, it was a hit in my neighborhood, and several others in South Brooklyn.I distinctly remember some friends of mine tracking down the “Gotti Boys” at the 18th Avenue Feast of Santa Rosalia (definitely a post on this event in late August). While our borough is probably best known today for the hipster haven that Williamsburg has become (gag) or the nostalgia and muggings of Coney Island, it was also once the epicenter of the “guido” phenomenon. The Gotti-Agnello boys were actually interchangeable with many people that I grew up with, cookie cutter copies, all the way down to the brand of hair gel that they used. And not even I was safe by what was in style at the time… Yes, I had a “blowout” hairdo a la DJ Pauly D.
Yes, this is me circa 2004. Believe it or not, this photo used to be saved on my computer under the title “Me, really good” (insert irony). I still maintain that I was a victim of circumstances. I was emulating what I saw all around me. Looking back now, I see that my style was just in bad taste. Having been part of this whole phenomenon is probably the reason that I don’t find “Jersey Shore” that entertaining. It’s a reality that is sad, but true for myself, whereas others just get to laugh at the stupidity of a bunch of guidos in Seaside Heights (which was a popular after-prom weekend getaway for many of my high school classmates as well). Perhaps shows like “Real Housewives of Orange County” aren’t as entertaining for wealthy residents of the O.C. either. I guess it’s a funny phenomenon of reality TV: it’s not as funny when it’s actually real for you.
In addition to feeling like I’ve lived through several episodes of “Jersey Shore” in my own life, there are other reasons that I don’t really find it appealing. Let’s face it, this is trash TV, and there are many other shows out there, that I feel do a better job. I guess their trash is just more palatable for me. Also, I have to agree with many that say it perpetuates some ugly stereotypes about Italian-Americans, but let’s face it, there’s a little truth in every stereotype, and MTV didn’t invent “The Situation”. Overall, it’s really boring to me too. Every episode is the same. GTL, go to Karma, get into a fight, someone’s handcuffed, ugly girls in the hot tub, repeat.
Even thought the “guido” craziness has sort of subsided in Brooklyn, it still runs rampant in other areas, like lovely Staten Island, the red-headed stepchild of NYC. I leave you with a funny account of how residents of that lovely former dump feel about their new status as the guido capitol of New York. Enjoy.