Next season, Jersey Shore goes to Miami Beach. But last season's exploits are about to go international. MTV is launching the show in more than 30 countries this week. Here's how they are selling this most American export abroad.
George Orwell once said "Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket." This is so appropriate for Jersey Shore, that trash can Americans love so much to eat from. Today, Times' Brian Stelter today explores how MTV is attempting to convince foreigners that they too should join awful feast.
Turns out it is easier than you might expect. According to the Times, "MTV executives say they believe the "Jersey Shore" narrative is universally appealing." Sort of like the Bible, or Gilligan's Island. Even the nicknames are surprisingly cross-cultural. Writes Stelter:
Mr. Sorrentino is better known as the Situation. The nickname, mocked by many in the United States, will be unchanged in Portugal, France, the Netherlands and some other markets served by MTV. Some names, it seems, defy translation.
Thank God. But just what have MTV's transnational Mad Men come up with to shill the Jersey Shore crew to the highly sophisticated Europeans and whoever else lives not in America? Let's take a look at these foreign market Jersey Shore ads... through the eyes of a foreigner. (Images and video via the Times)
According to Google Translate, the text on this ad reads "Buenos Aires, Jersey Shoreáte All the weeks desde el 24 marzo." Bad Job, Google Translate. But I am a foreigner who speaks in many tongues, so I understand. On the poster I see a muscle man who is tan. In our culture, muscles are good—we either want to have them or want to be with someone who does. The man is adorned with flashy jewelery: Perhaps he is wealthy. I enjoy watching wealthy, fit people people flaunt their wealth. The man looks like he is aggressive. He looks both threatening and appealing. Are his hand signs American for "welcome?" or "I will fight you?" I will watch this show.
This is an interesting ad. As a foreigner, I have no idea about the constellation of cultural references invoked by the phrase "Jersey Shore". Its prominence on this ad is an enigma to me. I am intrigued, but slightly confused. But I also see a muscle man. As you already know, in my culture large muscles are good. What's he doing? He is drinking a bottle of wine. Wine makes people go crazy. A large muscular man going crazy. Sounds like a pretty good show. Oh, and I can speak English well enough to read the slogan: "MUSCLES + GEL + TANNING BED = SEX" Well, why didn't you just say so? I will watch this show.
In this video I see two Indian men working out, attempting to "get juiced". In my culture, Indian men are thought of as generally weak, so the paradox amuses me. I am laughing: "Hoo hoo hoo" (This is how my people laugh, you must understand.) The announcer tells me "Jersey Shore" has "got America talking." As a foreigner, I am fascinated by America. Oh, and there are a bunch of American muscle men and American chicks with big boobs! Is this how America is? I will watch this show.
In this video, an old woman is getting a "blow out". Do I understand what a "blow out" is? Not really, but I do understand that old women should not look like this. Hoo hoo hoo. There are the same pictures of the muscle men and boob girls! I understand now: The Americans in this show are obsessed with their appearances! We, too, are obsessed with our appearances. And boobs and muscles, and America. I will watch this show.
Hey, how did this American ad for Jersey Shore get in here? I do not understand any of these references: What is this "Shore House?" What is this "Guidos?" Oh, there are the boob girls and muscle men again! I will watch this show.