December 11, 2009, - 12:16 am
Though I’m not Italian, I can understand why Italian-American groups are offended by MTV’s new show, “Jersey Shore,” a “reality” show featuring the worst stereotypes (other than Mafiosi) against America’s Italians.
Trust me, MTV will never ever have the guts to do “Dearbornistan Street”–or more accurately, “Dearbornistan Jihad”–about Muslim kids in Dearborn who openly support terrorist groups. Because that would be “stereotyping and bigotry.” And the world would be up in arms about it. The casting notice for “Jersey Shore” sought “loud, proud Italians” and “guidos and guidettes” to audition for the show.
Can you imagine anyone ever having the guts to audition “violent, America-hating Muslims” and “jihadis and jihadas” for a show? Not a chance, even though it would be more accurate in portraying America’s (and everywhere else’s) followers of the “Religion of Peace” than the other description does in describing Italian-Americans.
But having Italians portrayed as “guidos” and excessively hair-gelled goons, garish, vulgar idiots, and skanks . . . well, that’s A-OK for Viacom (MTV’s parent company). (The Salt Lake Tribune’s Vince Horiuchi has the best summary and critique I’ve read on the show. Another good analysis is by Entertainment Weekly’s Mike Bruno.) There’s absolutely no value in this show, and you have to be a complete moron to find it entertaining. Sadly, morons tend to gravitate to MTV’s audience demo.
I would be offended if MTV did a show about a carefully picked and extremely skewed cast of Jews from a loud, wealthy area of Long Island or even just the staff meetings of the far-left, self-hating “Heeb Magazine.” Those people don’t represent me or resemble the Jews I know and hang out with. And I had a hard enough time dealing with the anti-Semitism many Long Islanders bred when I was in college at the University of Michigan and in grad school at the University of Wisconsin.
Back in the day, we had a name for this crap: minstrel shows.
So, I feel for my many Italian friends. Though anti-Semitism is infinitely more poisonous and rampant (no-one ever cooked millions of people in ovens for having vowels at the end of their surnames), for many years they’ve had to put up with stereotypes that their family members were in the mob and other stereotypes. And, yet, the Italians I grew up with were very assimilated average Americans who resembled no-one in “The Godfather” or “The Sopranos” and no-one on “Jersey Shore,” either. Their parents were executives and professionals.
“Jersey Shore” would be a different story in a world where everyone was fair game. Then, we could have a sense of humor about it all. But the problem is we’re only allowed to have a “sense of humor” about some groups and not about others. While Italians, Jews, and a few other White ethnic groups are easy pickin’s, that’s not the case for others. Mocking, denigrating, and portraying them in a bad light is completely acceptable in a way that would never be tolerated about Blacks, Muslims, Arabs, and select other ethnicities protected by the orthodoxy of political correctness.
It’s as if MTV has adopted BET’s immunity. The Black cable network mocks White people 24/7. But don’t do the same to Black people on, say, MTV. Or the race card will be played like there’s no tomorrow by BET “elder statesmen” Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson.
So, why is it okay to do a show laser-focused on a few stupid 20-somethings who are the teenage version of every character Ray Liotta and Joe Pesce have ever played, minus the Cosa Nostra? And why pretend it’s something different, called “Jersey Shore”? Why not be honest about it and call it “Jersey Goombas”? The only thing missing from the show is Joe Piscopo, probably because he would add a massive dose of class to it. That should tell you how bad–and sad–this stupid show is.
I hope other advertisers, aside from Domino’s Pizza which canceled its ad campaign on the show, have the guts to say no to this hypocrisy and double standards in targeting certain ethnicities for shame and degradation and not others.
I often paraphrase George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” in cases like these. When it comes to the entertainment industry’s portrayal of ethnic groups, all of the animals in the barnyard are “equal.” But some are more equal than others.
Not only won’t you see a show called “Dearbornistan Street” on MTV, you’ll never see “Ghetto Alley,” either.
Tags: Italians, Jersey Shore, minstrel shows, MTV, stereotypes