Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Dumming Down of Amerika

The cast of MTV's reality series "Jersey Shore"

Remember when we were kids and our parents would warn us about watching too much television because it would "rot our brains?" Well, I watched it anyway, and my brayne brane brain is just fine. How ridiculous! Like watching the shows back then could do anything but improve our mental state! That’s like saying mommy leaving me home alone when I was four with just the TV for company was a bad thing. Who comes up with this stuff?

Many shows back then touched on intelligent social issues or had educational themes and pulled together elements of comedy and drama and mystery that awakened your mind to new ideas and insights. I loved "All In The Family" and the brilliant caricature of Archie Bunker's blue collar life in Queens. Shows like "Happy Days" and "The Waltons" gave us a glimpse of everyday life in simpler times. And of course for mindless escapism few could deny that "The A-Team", "CHiPs" or "Charlie's Angels" had the right stuff. Plus there was also Loni Anderson on "WKRP in Cincinnatti" for those that like big...um...smiles.

With the advent of reality television, though, everything has changed. I can safely say that watching too much of it WILL ROT YOUR BRAIN! In a world where TV poker players are considered athletes and where MTV doesn’t play music, it's time to take another look at the mental mush that is passing for entertainment on TV these days. The "Jerry Springer-esque" approach to television programming is creating a generation of mindless foul-mouthed imbeciles whose lives are all about posing, primping, getting drunk, having casual sex and fighting.

Probably no show on television better epitomizes this ugly trend than MTV's "Jersey Shore" about a group of self-proclaimed "Guidos" and "Guidettes" sharing a summer house in the resort town of Seaside Heights, N.J. As MTV explained “there’s no spray tan too orange, no hair too spiked, no bod too tight for this crew” on a show that “exposes one of the tri-state area’s most misunderstood species, the ‘Guido.’” Though following the same formula as the previous "The Real World" franchises, this show is an embarrassment of epic proportions showing just how disgusting, low-life, ignorant, orange-tanned, hair gel-addicted, obnoxious whores and douche bags can be. (No offense.)

Not only has this program been criticized loudly by Italian-Americans who see it as wildly offensive and an insult to their heritage, but New Jersey lawmakers have likewise condemned the show and asked MTV to cancel the series because it perpetuates the unflattering stereotype of the people there as idiotic, low-class mooks and skanks. (Stereotype? Really? Are they not the Armpit of America?)

The cast of “Jersey Shore” have all the charm and intellect of Beavis and Butthead and include such losers as Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, "Pauly D" Delvecchio, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and Jenni "J-Woww" Farley. Rounding out the rest of the fist-pumping, liquored-up, scantily clad cast are Ronnie, Sammi and Vinnie. If ever there was a more pathetic group of tools to have totally outlived their 15 minutes of fame, these are them.

Several of the cast members, most notably Snooki, Mike and Pauly D, have become popular guests on talk shows and have been commanding personal appearance fees of $10,000 each. This is strange when you consider that stars at their level of style, IQ and talent could easily be replaced by anyone sitting alone at a New Jersey bus station late at night. Snooki, one of the most well-known of cast members because of her distinctive look (sort of like a fugly top-heavy orange Oompa Loompa wearing a rat on her head) worked the red carpet at the Grammy’s last week as MTV’s designated interviewer. (And yes, she sucked.)

A "Jersey Shore" Parody

For the second season (Ugh! Yes, there will be one) they demanded MTV pay them $10,000 per episode by acting as a group, like the cast of "Friends" did, and saying they would all walk if they didn't get what they wanted. The only difference is that the cast of "Friends" were actors and they were talented and deserved their money. These clowns? Not so much. They made only a few hundred bucks per episode and MTV said they would rather replace the cast than change their agreement. Apparently the cast caved in their negotiations because they are all coming back. Lucky us.

So I guess this means that we will all be subject to a continuation of the endless newspaper, magazine and internet articles and television appearances by these talentless cheese balls. Oh well. If you haven't become familiar with the cast of this show by now, allow me to introduce you to a couple of them so you know who to avoid in the future.

Mike "The Situation" is a 27 year-old assistant manager of a gym. He is so proud of his six pack abs that he nicknamed them "The Situation" and refers to himself constantly by that name. In fact he is so in love with this name that you would almost think he was getting paid per mention. Not only is he currently trying to trademark his nickname, but he is also reportedly launching a new cologne called "The Sitch." To quote "The Situation" he says "This is The Situation right here, my abs are so ripped up it's ... we call it The Situation. I mean, this situation is gonna be indescribable, you can't even describe the situation that you're about to get into with The Situation. I don’t think they are going to be ready for this situation. Everyone’s gonna be like “oh shoot, that’s the situation right there. I got girls back here almost every night, there's not a time that I don't have girls coming back. Girls love The Situation."

I'm sure everyone is glad that fame hasn't gone to his head.

Snooki is a living, tiny, orange-skinned, sloppy drunk troll doll with a ridiculous hair poof and a filthy mouth that is giving the show's film editor carpal tunnel syndrome. When she is not getting drunk she goes to the gym in full makeup and hopes to make a splash “with all the juiced-up men.” She recently refused to meet Jerry Springer at a restaurant they were both eating at because she said "I am way classier than that." So classy, in fact, that on their first episode, Snooki showed up to the beach house with her clothes in a garbage bag, proceeded to get drunk and strip down to her bra and thong underwear and climb into the hot tub where she proceeded to paw at all the guys, being repelled by each. Then she blacked out, overslept, threw up and missed her first day of work orientation. Too classy for Springer? That was just the first 24 hours.

As for the future, she hopes to parlay her celebrity into a dating show called "Snookin’ For Love." She says "I want to find my prince. I’d have 27 guys: guidos and juice heads. That’d be heaven. Every time I’d pick a guy, I’d give them a pickle and we’d eat the pickles at the end." Sadly, given the popularity of these types of shows, I don't doubt she will get it. Snooki, who Mike compared to a Chihuahua spray-painted black, was quoted as saying "I'm not trashy, unless I drink too much" and "I tried to eat, but I couldn't get it in my frickin' mouth, 'cuz I'm disabled."

How appalling.

Finally we get to Pauly D, a deejay with his own personal tanning bed and a heavy addiction to hair gel (what he calls man-gel) which, for 25 minutes each morning, he uses to spike his hair and then point it backwards to look cool. (That is, if your definition for "cool" means "retarded.") How addicted is he to his man-gel? "There's no way I'm going to Jersey without my hair gel. Can't leave without my gel," he says. “I was born and raised a Guido; it’s just a lifestyle, it’s being Italian, it’s representing family, friends, tannin’, gel, everything.” Pauly practically wrote the handbook on being a Guido and noted that "There are some girls who are respectful, who you have to actually treat like girls, uh, human beings." On fist-pumping, that dance move popular with Guidos, he had this to say, "We're beatin'-up-the-beat, that's what we say when we're doing our fist pump. First, we start off by banging the ground, we're banging it as the beat builds 'cause that beat's hittin' us so we're fightin' back, it's like we beat up that beat." Uh huh. How could throwing punches at the dance floor appear lame? What's next, head pumping?

Some things are even too stupid to contemplate.

With 4.8 million homes tuned to the season finale of "Jersey Shore", and the likelihood that not all of them were located in New York and New Jersey, it does make me worry about the people that enjoy watching this show and whether any of them are of child-bearing years, drive vehicles or have access to explosives. I think shows like this one contribute to the decline of civilization and effectively dumb down our populace by spoon feeding them this kind of trash in lieu of substantive television programming. How long before we have millions of American adults glued to the TV screen watching some violent, angry version of Teletubbies? With the advent of these types of shows and their degenerative effect on our brain cells, it's only a matter of time.

In the meantime, perhaps we should try and preserve our collective I.Q. and watch shows that are entertaining on a more intellectual level such as "House", "Bones", "NCIS", "Fringe," "Criminal Minds," and wean ourselves off of other shows like "America's Top Model," "Melrose Place," "90210," and "So You Think You Can Dance."

And especially anything on the Fox News Channel!


  1. What?! You don't think Jersey Shore is the best new show on TV? I'm shocked.

    You forgot to mention that Snooki couldn't manage to get herself laid not even ONE TIME while filming the show!!! And it sure as hell wasn't for the lack of trying.

    How pathetic that you can't get ONE SINGLE DRUNK GUY to bump uglies with you. I think I would just go hang myself.....

  2. Thank you for the eloquent reminder of why I refuse to watch this show!

  3. I've watched this show a couple of time, but I quickly tired of the "douche bags" and "douchess". I'd rather watch "I Wanna Work for Diddy".

  4. I know you are just WAITING for this.....


    Yes...."The Situation" has his own beer.

    I have to add that I've never seen this show. I don't watch much tv but when I do--I choose my evils carefully. True wickedness doesn't spray tan.

  5. This is my favorite thing to come out of Jersey Shore.

  6. Great post, Tom! Funny as this is on the surface, you make some great points about how desperate we have become in our pursuit of "entertainment". And just think...before too long, we can see this stuff in 3-D! I'm glad there are still humorosts like you to gently nudge us back to reality.

  7. And some day, I will learn how to keyboard, and spell... Of course, I meant "humorists". (blushing lightly)

  8. The Waltons was my favorite back in the day. That and Andy Griffith are the best type of shows imho.

  9. I spent more time reading this than I ever will watching the show. I'll stick with more relative and informative television like Jerry Springer. Jer rie, Jer rie, Jer rie…

  10. I couldn't possibly agree with you more. I'm all for frivolous entertainment, but I can't do the mass murder of values and morals. I've never even seen the show and this is exactly why. Well said!!

  11. I've been told I look like 'The Situation.'

    I'm not sure if that's a compliment or not.


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