Jersey Shore: Guido Overload

Taking the eight guidos from Jersey Shore, the most important sociological experiment of our time, to Italy was supposed to get them in touch with their roots—to give them a sense of their place in the universe. Instead, it only created so many monsters.

Yes, the guidos have become self-aware and are lashing out at each other in strange and unexpected ways. Sure, Sammi and Ronnie are back to fighting (after all, the Pope did shit in the woods outside of Florence recently) but even the meatballs are attacking each other, and everyone is turning on Snooki's boyfriend. It is all very strange and, just as in the classic novel A Room with a View, Italy is having an intoxicating effect on our already soused subjects. I wonder what EM Forster would think of Jersey Shore. He'd probably want to bone Vinny. Probably.

Speaking of great literature, let's look at the guido language, so we can decipher their verbal poetry.

  • Lavanderia: This is the place where the guidos take their laundry in Italy. Since it's part of the powerful GTL triumvirate, it is very important to their culture. Ironically, it is also JWOWW's middle name.
  • Twenty One: Another one of the clubs in Florence that our little subjects visit. This isn't named for the drinking age (since in Italy, it is not 21) or the address of the club. Rather it is the number of virgins sacrificed to the old Etruscan gods to keep the good tribes of this region safe from the first attacks of the Roman people. As we know, the sacrifices failed to keep the Florentians (is that what you call them?) safe. This club was built in thier honor, as a temple to lure all the virgins of the world into it to ply them with liquor and defile them. It is a petty but significant revenge.
  • Cheese and Daisies: This is an expression that means something similar to "hunky dory." The original expression was "wine and roses," two things that mean life is good and prosperous. But, as we know, guidos like to do things differently. They'd rather eat cheese (since wine doesn't get you drunk fast enough) and have daises, because roses are too pretentious. Daisies are classy. Roses are what your boyfriend drunkenly buys you on the way home from the bar to apologize for grinding up on some other girl. But daisies! Well, that means romance. That means falling in love. That means sitting on the hood of Tony's Camaro in the parking lot of Karma as he tries to sneak his hand up your dress and tell you how pretty you are and how he's never met a girl like you. That's cheese and daisies. That is bliss.

Alright, now that we know what romance is like back home, let's take a look at romance abroad. It's quite different.

Poor Snooki. No matter where she goes she's ridiculed. Here it happens in front of a church on the way to to the "lavanderia" with all of her clothes. The priest tells her to cover up her body when she walks past the church. She's supposed to throw on some sort of nun's habit for the one block she has to saunter past St. Peter of Abstention's? That's crazy.

This just shows the difference between life in Seaside and life in Italy. In Seaside, Snooki's outfit would be considered classy. It's cutting edge fashion. In Italy, however, she's Irma La Douce, the prostitute out on the town to make a bit of cash. Sure, Snooki sells herself in skimpy clothing to make a living, but she's not a real hooker. A whore? Maybe. A lady of the night? For sure. A hooker? Oh, hell no!

As Snooki points out, at her church, they wouldn't call her a whore they'd say, "Nice outfit." This is a very appropriate point, because the guidos, as we know, do not worship in the Roman Catholic church. No, they worship their own polytheistic gods, most notably their irate god the Duck Phone. This priest sniping at Snooki really has nothing to do with her fashion choices, it's religious persecution. He's just tying to convert this "heathen" to his religion. That would never happen in Seaside under the watchful eye of the Duck Phone.

What the camera didn't catch is, as soon as Snooki and the girls were safely away from the church, a herd of pigeons (is that what you call a group of pigeons? A herd? A menace? A Washington Square Park?) amassed around the structure, sitting on window sills, awnings, and telephone wires. They settled in with a flurry, their wings beating and feathers flailing. It was alarming, that sound, but then, as they landed and all fixed their gaze on the padre, they grew silent. Deadly silent. Without an errant coo, they stared and stared, their eyes glowing with the fire of a million hells. Then they started making noise, but it sounded like...it sounded like...quacking. The priest picked up his broom and scurried inside, running through the church and landing on his knees before the altar, his shaky hands clutching his rosary beads and his weak pleas to his deaf god went unanswered. No amount of prayer can save you from the vengeance of the Duck Phone.

I promised myself that this week we would take a break from looking at the overexposed aggression that Ronnie and Sammi show each other. After all, this show is called Jersey Shore not How I Never Should Have Met Your Mother. I'm not going to talk about them getting back together again or their ridiculous discussion about their relationship.

However, I am going to talk about Vinny confronting them about their incessant fighting. We're not the only ones who are sick of it. Everyone in the house wants to claw their eyes out. But, in Sammi and Ronnie's defense, there is nothing worse than being stuck in a house with your recent ex. Just ask any number of New Yorkers who have broken up before sorting out their real estate holdings, shared leases, and various and assorted other habitational concerns. It sucks and it's going to make you fight.

But there is also something awful about being stuck with an arguing couple. What are you supposed to do? If you say anything, then you're in the middle of an argument and you will be expect to take sides. That's just going to create more conflict and that's not the point of stepping in. But if you ignore it, then you are drawn into the very argument, as it takes up your time and mental energy. So, do you do nothing and have that black cloud, that animated blob depiction of depression from a Abilify commercial, just rolling around your house making everyone want to open a vein? Or do you step up and try to make a difference.

Vinny finally has the guts to make a difference and tells them to shut the fuck up already and, if they're going to fight, go fight outside. They try to say they're not fighting, but whatever. That's like finding your junkie brother in a crack house and having him tell you he wasn't trying to score, he was just going to look for the lighter that he lost before he went to rehab. Yeah, his lighter. It's very important to him. Vinny doesn't buy their line and stands firm. They say they'll try their best to cut it out, to stay clean. But you heard the same promises from your junkie brother right before he want back to Promises for the fourth time. God, these two really need to be on Breaking Bad or something. They're addicted to fighting. Call Dr. Drew!

Alright, I'm not sure exactly what happened when Snooki and Deena went to Twenty One. Apparently they were being haunted by the evil ghosts of the Twenty One sacrificed virgins that gave the club its name. They were just flying around, shrieking wraiths trying to ruin the girls' good time. Maybe it's because the girls aren't virgins and the spirits wanted to drive them out of their temple, to replace them with pure and clean foreign exchange students to offer up to the virile men who come to pump their fists and beat back the beat—their amorous warriors. That must be it. They were too impure for this place.

Well, they finally thought of a clever ruse to turn the women against each other once and for all. One of these harpies threw a drink in Deena's hair. You didn't quite see where it came from, it just sort of floated up in the air and launched itself in her general direction, like it was flung by a poltergeist. Deena, being so short, couldn't duck, she just launched herself in the general direction the drink came from. She was ready for a fight. That's when she ran smack dab into the back of Snooki, who was standing where the drink was thrown.

Snooki, for her part, was also looking for the assailant, but in the tumult and turmoil raised up by the wraiths, everything got turned around and Snooki and Deena began to battle each other, blindly lashing out with their little manicured fists trying to right a wrong that appeared out of thin air, out of a shiver, out of someone walking over their grave.

Luckily Vinny was around to see what was going on, and tore the two girls apart, making them aware of their folly. And poor Deena, sitting there with her hair akimbo and her makeup running down her face in a sad torrent, everything damp with vodka and soda. Everything was ruined, their night, the demons' plan, everything. With that the spirits went into the light, into their home where they are wrapped in nothing but rage and brightness so they could strike back another day.

PS—The best part of this whole clip is the little fists Snooki and Deena make to pantomime fighting. Warrior princesses, both.

Something is horribly amiss with Snooki's boyfriend Jionni. So far we've only heard his voice over the phone and every time Snooki talks to him, it's bad news. He doesn't like when she says dirty things like "suck my butt." He doesn't like when she gets drunk. He doesn't like her clothes. It's like he's the priest down the street, except he's actually fucking her. Does he not realize that he is dating Snooki, a foul-mouthed drunkard with the wardrobe of a 12 year-old girl with an open credit line at Claire's and the body of 22 year-old to squeeze into all of those sequined fabrics? This is not going to end well for him.

JWOWW, not only the maternal figure and fertility goddess of the house but also Snooki's best friend, doesn't like that Jionni seems to be trying to change Snooki so that he can be with her. Ronnie also doesn't like it, and everyone starts to get all up in her business.

This culminates in a phone call where Jionni, for no good reason, repeatedly accuses Snooki of cheating on him. Then Ronnie drunkenly picks up the phone and tries to plead Snooki's case. This is annoying for so many reasons. First of all, Ronnie is always like, "Don't get involved in my relationship," when he's fighting with Sammi, but then he directly involves himself in Snooki's relationship. He literally inserts himself, unasked, into the conversation. Naturally Jionni is pissed and tries to gets Snooki back on the phone. I don't blame him, cause I wouldn't want to listen to a stupid drunk Ronnie either, but Jionni could have handled it with a bit more tact than telling Ronnie to "Fuck Off." Ronnie does fuck off and then Jionni accuses Snooki of being a bitch to him when she didn't do anything wrong. He sure is a piece of work.

But no matter how big of a piece of work he is, JWOWW and Co. never should have mounted an intervention against him. Not only are they not going to change Snooki's mind about the man she loves, but then when he gets to Florence in a week and Snooki knows that everyone in the house hates him, it's going to be a very awkward situation (and The Situation is awkward enough these days with his neck brace and what not). This is just bad all around.

But let's end on a fun note, shall we.

For some reason or another, Deena decides she wants to do DJ Paulie Depilatory's hair. He actually lets her, which is a huge step for a guido male, since they're not used to having a woman come anywhere close to their heads. Deena fashions it into a faux-hawk, the most hackneyed style in all of America (only because the Euro Mullet has never caught on across the pond). DJ Paulie Departure decides that this haircut doesn't belong to him, but a whole new character, a "guido toolbag" named Tony D. He then decides to transform Vinny into a equally stereotypical guido named Louie. Together they put on quite a show.

With this act, our guidos have finally become self aware. Before, in their native habitats, they were just normal people. Though outside of mainstream society, they live in a bubble of their own creation, their skin tone, hair style, clothing choices, mating habits, nightlife activities, and other predilections just seemed normal. They were just being guidos, the best, baddest guidos they could be, and that was their greatest pride in life.

Now they are outside of the country and for the first time they know what it feels like to be judged. They are very much orientals in Italy (in the classic literary sense of the word), and they aren't necessarily trying to be guidos with this bit of red-white-and-green face. They're trying to be what they think the Italian people see them as. They are like themselves but amplified. They have slightly different hairstyles, slightly different and more outrageous clothing, and even more chapstick than before. They even have their own catchphrase "FPC," which stands for "fist pump, pushup, chapstick," which is a take on their very own GTL.

Here they are not trying to become guidos, they are trying to become uberguidos. A virulent recombinant strain of their normal identity spliced with how they are perceived by the outside world. It's just like a drag queen is not trying to be a woman, but trying to be a campy, exaggerated form of a woman, both commenting on the state of femininity and debunking it. This is "guido" as performance.

The performance itself is brilliant, but there is something spoiled about our subjects. It's like their childlike innocence is somehow gone and now that they know what they look like in the mirror the world has held up for them, they may not like what they see. Are they criticizing themselves or people who try to pretend to be like them? Are they criticizing their own standards of beauty or the people who say that their standards aren't good enough. This is a sad day for the guido. It is the day they find out about Foucault and Lacan. It is the day they discover irony. It is the day they discovery theories of identity that are beyond them, that are behind their small intellectual grasp. It is they day they finally awaken, and it is the day they all die.