Five years ago, on an HBO comedy special called Never Scared, Chris Rock suggested that every father's goal must be to keep his little girl "off the pole." Watching MTV's new horror show, Jersey Shore, I respectfully disagree.
Raising a stripper is not the real mark of parental failure. It's having a daughter who stars on reality TV admiring a stranger's private parts or a son who dreams aloud, "I wanna pound out every girl in Seaside."
For those who missed it, Jersey Shore follows in the tradition of such reality classics as Are You Hot? and Amish in the City. This program features Italian American himbos and bimbos too busy doing shots, cussing, pumping iron, and swapping spit to form a coherent sentence or complete a shift in a boardwalk T-shirt stand.
"I got a [expletive] tanning bed in my place," Rhode Island luminary Pauly D. boasts. "That's how serious I am about bein' a Guido and livin' up to that lifestyle."
Pauly D. joins seven other "Guidos" and "Guidettes" who answered the casting call for "loud, proud Italians" and won the right to stumble around Seaside Heights letting their freak flags fly.
It should be noted that only one star is a Jersey native. Jenni isn't even Italian; she's a lusty, busty wannabe who calls herself J-WOWW. Close enough.
The facts haven't stopped Jersey Shore from serving up a crude cultural cocktail of cigarettes, protein powder, hair gel, vomit, and vodka. In the premiere this month, one knucklehead set out to cook an authentic Italian dinner, only to realize that none of them knew how to peel garlic. So much for embracing their heritage.
Wise eyes don't watch
Jersey Shore premiered to only 1.4 million viewers, which is the most encouraging news I've heard about American civilization in ages. I get paid to watch trash; what sane human would tune in for free?
New Jersey tourism officials inadvertently brought more heat to the fire by insisting the state is not as sleazy as Seaside Heights.
Domino's Pizza, whose Catholic founder started Ave Maria University in Florida, hurriedly pulled its ads from the show, presumably after the cast followed a prayer thanking God for "this experience" with naked hot-tubbing and random sex.
A group called UNICO went so far as to urge a boycott, saying Jersey Shore offends Italian Americans who don't identify as Guidos and Guidettes. I imagine the Association of Idiotic Americans has been unable to reach a quorum to complain; its members are probably too busy with reality-TV commitments.
The future is now
Did Andy Warhol have Jersey Shore in mind when he predicted that "in the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes"? That was around 1968, before cable provided a forum for the classless masses to share their special gifts.
It's easy to argue that these playas are acting. In her Jersey Shore introduction, cast member Angelina even compared herself to reality royalty, bragging that "I'm the Kim Kardashian of Staten Island."
And yet every drunk Guidette scarfing Cool Ranch Doritos after an evening of videotaped humiliation was once someone's little girl. In ranchers and rowhouses across the land, adults encourage or allow their babies to shame themselves for fame.
In a telling scene on Jersey Shore, promiscuous, profane Snooki phoned her father in tears. She wanted to leave the beach after making a disastrous first impression.
"Who the [expletive] is this?" he answered. Like father, like daughter.
After a pep talk, Snooki decided to stick it out, because getting wasted on TV will help her "grow up and understand who I am."
"Snooki's staying!" she vowed. "I'm ready to party!"
In interviews after the premiere, Snooki said had she so enjoyed her experience that she'd happily star in a spin-off chronicling her search for Mr. Right.
"I like tan Italian boys with big muscles," she said. Guidos only, please. Snooki has standards.