Opinions Expressed in "Rants," while informed by Catholic doctrine, are merely the opinions of the author.

The Theology of the Jersey Shore

So I watched an episode of the Jersey Shore – in this episode, Pauly D and the Situation go to the gym, tan and do their laundry, so they can go out and try to hook up. JWoww cheated on her boyfriend at the club. Snooki got into a cat-fight, then got drunk and brought home a stranger, then got her feelings hurt because everyone was ignoring her. Sammi and Ron had a fight and then made up. Angelina fought with everyone, lied to everyone, did no work, and talked on the phone. Vinnie was just there watching, because his date stood him up.

Can you guess which episode this was?

People used to watch MTV to see music videos.  Now they watch to see Snooki.

I can see why people want to watch the show. The characters are loveable, witty and clever occasionally, and the situations they find themselves in are definitely dramatic and enticing.

Sometimes the show is like watching a car accident or a train wreck – I can’t look away.  The cliff hangers at the end always leave us waiting to see the next episode, wanting to know if he got with her, if she beat her up, if … etc.  Jersey Shore enjoys the addictiveness of shock value, from one week to the next.

And I think many of us appreciate watching a show that requires ZERO THOUGHT – Jersey Shore certainly qualifies, taking over the empty space in our lives once occupied by the O.C.

There are also a number of valuable lessons, real pearls of wisdom that we, if we watch closely, can certainly glean by observing these characters. Here are a few:

-Trash talking – an interesting way of pretending to have lots of confidence, when in fact it demonstrates the LACK of confidence.  If they really had confidence, they wouldn’t be so sensitive all the time.

-Nicole (Snooki) – She could actually make a positive difference by changing negative perceptions about body image, if she didn’t paint herself up like a clown.

-Mike (the Situation) – narcissistic ego-maniacs often refer to themselves in the third person.

-Ronnie – steroids can make you moody.

-The show is maybe one of the best demonstrations I’ve ever seen of why pre-marital sex is not a good idea. ALL the characters are too immature to have sexual relationships, as demonstrated by all the negative consequences – emotional entanglements and possessiveness (i.e drama), oversensitivity and INsensitivity towards others - treating the opposite sex like garbage, disrespect for themselves by letting others treat them like crap.

-Speaking of which, these men are SO disrespectful of women – its really offensive.  If your laughing at the show, its only because its so shocking.

-All the characters are promiscuous, gossipy, slobby, dishonest alcoholics, constantly getting angry at each other for being promiscuous, gossipy, slobby, dishonest alcoholics. They’re ALL THE SAME!! 
It’s a classic case of “you spot it – you GOT it” – if someone makes you really angry, its often because they are reflecting things about YOURSELF that you don’t like or are ashamed of.

-They keep saying “I’m done” and “It’s over” even though they’re never done and its never over.

-Drinking to the point of memory loss will NEVER absolve you of the consequences of your mistakes.  They’ll still be there the next day, and they’ll still be your fault.  Why get that drunk in the first place? How does it make sense to not remember if you had a good time or not?

-Why do they lie? Don’t they realize they’re gonna be on TV?

These are all lessons we can learn from this show, lessons that the cast members themselves COULD learn, but sadly are not likely to, due to a complete lack of personal reflection.

The show is hilarious; at first is was intentionally so – trying to demonstrate how ridiculous the lives of these eight cast members are, how stupid and short-sighted and hypocritical and immature they can be. But then something happened, somewhere between season 1 and 2.  The show started to take itself seriously.  It doesn’t realize anymore that the characters are supposed to be maligned. And a lot of young people started to emulate them, using their lingo in school, dressing like them, trying to live like them – not realizing that these guys are 10 years older and still living their lives like they’re in junior high school + alcohol x1000.

The cool thing is – the people giving the show the most flak are the very people that can make the most difference.  These “guidos” on the show claim to be taking pride in their Italian American heritage. A bitter pill to swallow it must be then knowing that those most offended by them are: ITALIAN AMERICANS. Perfect. So Joy Behar, Alyssa Milano (that’s my girl), etc., are given a hard time, and the cast are taking it so personally because they actually care a lot.  Maybe that’ll make them grow up.

I'm part Italian too by the way.

In the mean time, I just hope that kids who, like me, can’t take their eyes off these guido turkeys and their train-wreck lives, can learn from them, even if the guidos can’t learn from themselves.

I don’t think Dire Straights wants his MTV anymore.


BONUS - Check out what Alyssa Milano thinks of Jersey Shore.