Saturday, December 26, 2009

Italian Americans and MTV's "Jersey Shore."

OK, so let's talk about it..I've been receiving tons of emails, comments, and Tweets about the infamous MTV show, "Jersey Shore." This is a hard topic to address and not just a run of the mill let's scream stereotype and go home. There have been tons of celebrities, law makers and national Italian American organizations on the brink of taking down MTV and their decision to air "Jersey Shore."

I happen to be Italian American and do live at the Jersey Shore. As you know I grew up in North Jersey and am no stranger to the term "GUIDO." Its a term used to describe a type of person who happens to be of a city suburb, wears scandalous or tight clothing, big hair, tanned skin, long nails..the whole nine. OK, so what's important to realize here is that people really do dress like this and really do act or maybe not act, this is who they are. The Italian American context has been distorted, YES, I agree. But, unfortunately this is real. Those kids are identifying themselves with a distorted idea of being Italian American. The word, "GUIDO" at this point in time does not mean someone who is Italian, Italian American, this word is now used to describe a type of person.

I watched the show, I've heard those kids say more than once, "We're Italian, I'm Italian." Its possible that in the areas or city in which these kids come from, they do associate themselves to being Italian American and maybe in the areas they come from that's how their community culturally identify themselves. I am in no way condoning the behavior, actions of those who claim themselves to be Italian American and then portray themselves in a negative light. I am a Jersey girl, I live at the shore...and am an Italian American...there is nothing Italian about the show, "Jersey Shore."

If you remember back in the 80s everyone would travel down to Seaside Heights and play the part of the "GUIDO" driving in their Cadillacs, all tanned out and some even juiced up...they would culturally identify themselves as Italian Americans. This is real, those people are real. The choice of the network to air and not edit certain parts of the show are distasteful, but again these people "the cast" have no clue or true cultural upbringing to identify with and so they go with the closest thing they know. We have to be more concerned with the realness of where these kids are coming from and why they don't know any better and who failed them...?

Here is my concern with all this new found media and press surrounding the show, again..the band wagoners will get on and ride it all the way to the top. Where the hell are all the celebrities and law makers as we're trying to get an Italian American Network, education and programming in schools and on TV? Why is it when the Sopranos was airing, I didn't see the same amount of energy going into ending that show, like this one? Come on, this is hypocrisy at its best. Sopranos exemplified a glorification of murder, deceit and everything negative you can imagine all wrapped up in a nice gift called, being Italian. That show was on the air for a looooong time, and awarded. We got to look at the big picture here.

Now, that this show is pissing everyone off, it seems to me that everyone is on the press band wagon. That might be a cause for concern too. I would love for the lawmakers to be concerned with getting Italian cultural programs back into the schools, more recently they were cut out. I don't recall seeing much about the lawmakers except for a few national Italian American organizations trying to help. Italian American actors, or heavy hitters of any kind should use their power and influence to get the Italian American positive culture awareness out in the mainstream. We need our own network, our own shows and our own control of producing the correct information, history and traditions of being Italian American. Every other nationality has their own network, why don't we..? Currently, the Italian American Network is in the planning stages and hopeful to be up and running in the near future. There should be no opportunity for any other network to capitalize or distort our image. ITS TIME TO TAKE CONTROL!!!

Again, I don't agree with any negative portrayal of Italian Americans, but we have to look at the ROOT of the problem. Of course money is always a driving factor for mainstream media, so we must act to do the right thing instead of just complaining. I welcome your thoughts.... Let's do something good.


themendous said...

Margaret, you make great points here.

Having also grown up Italian-American, I too hate the word "Guido" being associated with Italians. This show and its "characters" have nothing Italian about them. "They are as Italian as their Irocs" was a term I used to use when I visited the Jersey shore during my not so long ago youth. (in the 80's, which I believe gave birth to the term "Guido"). Non the less, I was embarrassed about the term to say the least, as I was and am, in no way a "guido". I don't understand the orange "umpa lumpa" skin tones and the guys wearing more makeup than the girls. (wait... did I say wearing "MORE" makeup? How about just "wearing" makeup). However, I can understand why the show is on the air. Ratings is king and the buzz is creating more ratings and the show will not easily be removed by anyone, because of its ratings.

I wish that there was a good Italian American program on the air. The only programs that I'm familiar with are the ones that RAI airs on cable and I view those shows as truly poor in subject matter: Old people talking about practically nothing interesting and a young adult audience literally sleeping in their seats, until the camera pans their faces, forcing them to "wake up" and give a fake smile as they make their tv debut. So what is the answer? Non lo so.

Italian American Girl said...

Ciao Gio,
Thank you for your opinion. You're right. There is a lot to this discussion and really the answers are definitely hard to define.

Anonymous said...

well said...
just complaining does not bring on change. It's time for second generation Italians to unite and get a voice.

Chef Chuck said...

I also grew up in N.J. and am an Italian American, now living in Az. I agree Italians are getting a bad rap from that show that I choose not to watch!
We need a film depicting how Italians came here with nothing and built small businesses and futures for their families. How family values and traditions are so important,which are a dimensioning factor in America. Love to be make a short film of all the positive aspects of the Italian American people, for educational purposes.

Deborah Madey said...

The buzz about the show did get me to tune in to see for myself. I watched for a very short while, and turned it off. The show reflects a small group of young people who has found an audience who finds them entertaining. It simply and clearly is not the shore lifestyle that my friends, family or myself live. I help buyers and sellers with real estate transactions at the Jersey shore, and have not been asked about this show .....not yet. BTW, I have an Italian family.

Italian American Girl said...

Hi Deborah,
Thank you for your feedback. I agree with you!

Susan Pohlman said...

I don't think one has to be Italian to know that the show is awful. New Jersey deserves better PR.

Anonymous said...

What ever happened to self identification? These young adults are Italian, it is their culture. Don't like it don't watch.

The truth is this show will bring more young adults to the Jersey Shore, is that all bad for NJ?

All of my grand parents were born in Italy, but I identify myself an American, am I wrong for that?