This weekend, the New York Times tried to find redeeming value in MTV's Jersey Shore, the most important sociological artifact of our time. Sorry, but trying to find any good in this show is missing the point entirely.
Yes, Jersey Shore is irredeemably trashy—which we learned is the opposite of "classy," which is what all good guidos and guidettes aspire to be—so Neil Genzlinger's gambit to find anything good in it is entirely misguided. He tries to cover up the alcohol-fueled Jacuzzi romps, wanton acts of aggression, and general stupidity of the
seven castmembers with the little bits of goodwill that the show is doing humanity. His listicle includes that they made the Jersey Shore (like the actual geographical location) interesting again, that they might kill the Kardashians (heavens, no!), that they are good negative examples for children, and they show us which institutions need to be fixed so we never get kids like the JS crew again. These are all stupid reasons.
Everyone is always trying to explain, relegate, or ironically detach themselves from Jersey Shore's utter grossness like they're trying to run away from the stench of a garbage truck. The problem is they're staring at the truck the whole time, trying to avoid being struck by it and turned into an orange-hued, big-haired, juiced-out freak of their own. Guess what, everyone, it is time to enjoy this stink for what it is.
Michael Cera is loving the stench right this very second and hanging out with the cast on the Lower East Side as we speak. According to NY Mag's Vulture, MTV told Cera that he could do anything he wanted on the channel to promote his upcoming movie Youth in Revolt, and he opted to tape a special with America's foremost guidos. Now we have another thing to look forward to this week!
What makes this show brilliant is that the kids don't care about their trashiness. In fact, it is the goal of their existence. They all place a high value on clothes that we find tacky, hairdos we find outdated, behavior we find atrocious, skin color we find garish, and sexual encounters we find dangerous. They exist without malice or guile and are unashamed of their exploits, so we shouldn't feel ashamed for watching.
Like Genzlinger says, no one actually wants to be like ShamWOWW, The Situation, Snooki, or Sammi Quiznos, but haven't we all been a little bit like them at one point in our lives? These are people in their 20s getting drunk and screwing around on vacation. Who isn't guilty of that? Now most of us have grown out of the phase without ever being punched in the face, thrown out of a club called Karma, or having sex on national television with a hulking mass of muscle, but isn't it fun to watch people who haven't learned their lesson yet (and probably never will)? These are our media avatars, acting in irresponsible ways that we could only dream about, and allowing us to feel the concurrently joys of vicarious scuzziness and utter superiority. There is nothing guilty about this pleasure, it is unmitigated bliss.