The American Dreamby Ayanda Moholi / 22.10.2010
As an avid viewer of Jersey Shore, I find myself having to balance its meatheaded nature with the works of Albert Camus and Simone de Beauvoir to salvage some self-respect. It is one of the most entertainingly trashy, brain-damaging shows ever unleashed by MTV (who stopped playing music videos a long time ago).
MTV first brought us The Real World (a Big Brother thing for teens) and VH1 followed suit with lowbrow reality shows like the bizarre Flava of Love (following clock-necklace wearing genuinely nutso Public Enemy munchkin Flava Flav) and For the Love of Ray J. The shows all run along similar lines. A gonzo angle – some cartoonish trait turned up to eleven – lots of obvious sex, mental breakdowns, borderline behavior, and outre’ dialogue. Car crash TV. A bewildering glimpse inside the amoral wasteland of the American Empire. It’s a tabloid come to life basically.
Enter Jersey Shore. With its guidos, relentless ‘let’s hump’ monomania and beach sand. A wicked person I call my friend presented me with the first episode she PVR’d and my life has never been the same. Damn her.
I wondered what nonsense Technorati was cooking up when a headline read “Obama pretends not to know who Snooki is” on my tweetfeed. Snooki, I now know, is the primo bimbo star of Jersey Shore. The quintessential distilation of shallow mall-going materialistic airhead Gen Y. Her tan matters more than Iran. Her hair matters way more than the memoirs of Tony Blair. I’m retroactively proud of my complete ignorance of this Italian-American Princess (though she’s solidly working class). She even got a mention at a White House Press Correspondents Dinner. Obama said: “The following individuals shall be excluded from the Indoor Tanning tax within this bill: Snooki, JWOWW, The Situation, and House minority leader John Boehner!” Brilliant. Even the American President was aware that Snooki was beginning to look yellow – like a creature from the Sun, so dedicated is she to scorching her melanin.
We’re not doing much better locally. Our tube is awash with inane soapie filler. We’re as inundated with luridly regressive and devitalised depictions of “everyday life” as South America is with sensationalist ‘telenovellas’. The laughable corporate genuflection of Generations – where everyone has a job and a Woolies card and very expensive hair – has no vividly outsized characters to chew up the scenery or storylines that even begin to reflect fractious South African reality. Although I do credit the show for not succumbing to outrageous demon and witch plots. Yet.
It’s got nothing on an abrasive post-everything seaside world where guidos (“a pathetic excuse for a male; not necessarily of Italian descent”), and their smooshy haired love interests eat pasta non stop, party every night except on Sundays, and use words like “grenade” to describe fugly girls or “hippo” to describe overweight ones. Everyone talks with an Italian-American accent so heavy I relive every violent scene in “The Sopranos” (now that’s good television). The show is all about rampant narcissism and the affectless horrors of contemporary sexuality. Some have called it a caricature and an abomination. They’re right. And wrong. Its funny and vilely convincing at times. Like finding a diary at the bottom of a spittoon. What’s certain is that America is a mess. Inside and out. A thrillingly dystopian mess of muscles, mental disorder and bikinis.
Anyways, five episodes in and I already feel a Jersey Shore growth in my brain! A special cancerous cranial nodule reserved exclusively for the show. And the preview of the catfight between Sammi and JWOWW – look them up noobies – has my panties in a twist for next Sunday’s episode when I’ll happily frizz a few more brain cells on the Shore.