So MTV is starting up this new show called “Jersey Shore.” As with any reality show, the idea is to “document” a group or some lives and portray them in such a light that you a. Laugh at them and b. Feel superior. “Jersey Shore” focuses on a group of Italian American young people, often referred to as “guidos.” For those unfamiliar, guidos are a type of Italian white trash: envision an unintellectual people who spend too much time at the gym, dress poorly (and flashily), wear too much cologne, are overly concerned with their appearances, work in blue collar trades such as “contracting” and “law enforcement,” have unevolved cultural and racial views, etc.
So there’s this Italian-American advocacy group and they lodge complaints with MTV about this show, calling it “racist” (read here at Gawker ). The problems with that assertion are: 1. Being Italian or Italian-American is not the same as being the member of a racial group (what race? white?!), so you would think this advocacy group should buy a dictionary; 2. The claim is that the show is racist, the show features a group of people, so if anyone is being “racist” it would have to be that group of people. Do you follow here? There is no script, there is camera equipment, there is a TV network. They are not to blame. MTV didn’t point a gun at the folks portrayed and said “act racist, be a stereotype.” Reality TV is not slavery, they chose to participate. 3. The “cast” of the show has commented on this and see nothing wrong with what they portray. The “reality” is if a group of people are captured on tape acting in a “stereotypical” manner that the rest of us find amusing, this is not racist. It is no more racist than the rednecks who are always shown on “Cops” outside their house, drunk with no shirt on after smacking around their wives. Yes, it’s a “stereotype” and we are all predisposed to think “this is what rednecks do” and guess what, here is a TV show with a redneck doing EXACTLY what we believe they do. Don’t call it RACIST when someone acts the way we think they do.
In short, this is NOTHING CLOSE to racism. This “advocacy” group and all others should work on a different “problem.” Here’s one: how to get members of our ethnic group to behave themselves and not embarrass us when they are on reality TV shows? Because that’s the real issue, isn’t it? The group, UNICO, is embarrassed by the behavior of people they are lumped together with. This reminds me of the behavior of some of the Jewish “benevolent” groups run by German “establishment” Jews in New York in the late 1800s-early 1900s. The well-connected and assimilated Germans were ashamed and embarrassed by the plight and presence of the newer arrivals: the poorer slavic and eastern European Jews who were flooding the tenements. So groups were started by the ladies who lunch to “help” the new, poor Jews. This included sending the children off to the countryside (e.g. the Fresh Air fund, summer camps etc.) to get away from the cauldron of the slums. This also, conveniently, gave the rich Jews a break from seeing the urchins around the city, and reminding their gentile friends that Jews could be poor, unpresentable people. Read about Robert Moses and his background for more about this.
Anyway, self-haters are pretty bad people. But those who call everything racism are the WORST PEOPLE.
Thanks for reading,