MTV’s recent announcement that the cast of Jersey Shore will head to Italy has brought mostly groans and grimaces from the blogosphere. But what many people may not realize is that crew of self-proclaimed guidos and guidettes has already been in what MTV described as the “birthplace of culture” for some time.
Before last summer, I had never seen Jersey Shore, nor did I even know anyone who watched it (or, at least, who admitted to watching it). Despite the hype and the controversy, it seemed like just another bunch of clowns in a house — entertaining, perhaps, but ultimately pretty boring too.
But then, over the summer, I went on a trip. To Italy. And I got hooked.
Beside the Arno river, I watched with rapt attention as the housemates wrestled with the trial of showing up to work in a t-shirt shop. In Venice, the call of gondoliers was drowned out by the screams of Angelina, when everyone hated her but before she was evicted. And in Rome, it was the Ecstasy of Saint Theresa by day, and the ecstasy of The Situation when he brought a couple of girls back to the house by night. (And then the girls left. Et tu.)
Along with McDonald’s, unwashed clothing, and other gross things, my thirst for Jersey Shore strangely dried up when I came home. But the trip was enough for me to see that the show is already playing regularly in Italy and a slew of other countries on multiple continents. It also helped me realize that Italy might just be the perfect place for the housemates. After all, the country has had its own version of the show playing for years. In Italian, they call it the Berlusconi administration.
All this is to say that MTV’s announcement about sending Jersey Shore to Italy doesn’t change much, except for maybe the percentage of the Internet that’s filled with snarky comments about the downfall of western civilization. Vapid young Americans — of Italian descent or otherwise — are already a well-known stereotype on the international stage that some people fit, and some people don’t. Italians, along with most everyone else, know that.
And besides, sending a few reality B-listers to Italy will ultimately draw about as much long-term attention as one more bag of garbage in the rubbish-filled streets of Naples.
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