This isn’t a real blog post, but I think this video is too awesome and amazing not to share.
MTV really hit the reality television gold mine (or should I say, “land mine”?) when it premiered it’s Guido-tastic show “Jersey Shore”. If you didn’t understand that awesome “land mine” joke I threw in there, it’s okay. That just means that you’re not watching “Jersey Shore” (or as I will now refer to it, JShore) enough. Unfortunately for myself, I can’t say that, as I avidly watch the show despite how ridiculous and offensive it is.
JShore came to fruition in the winter of 2009 and was an instant success, despite protests from Italian-American groups, and also from those in the beautiful state of New Jersey. They were convinced that JShore would tarnish the good name of the people of Jersey and also mess with businesses there, but also that the show would promote negative stereotypes against the Italian-American community. Both are valid claims after watching the show, but were not the aims of the show when it was created. JShore is all about a group of guidos and guidettes staying at a house in, as you would have guessed, the Jersey Shore, and basically just having fun, partying, fighting, drinking, more drinking, hooking up, and blacking out. Despite that, the controversy did not let up.
However, the uproar from the Italian-American and New Jersey communities haven’t been the only complaints about the show. JShore has been criticized for promoting an unhealthy hook-up and binge drinking lifestyle for college students. Students have begun to emulate the actions of the cast members and the way that they dress. While the students see this all as being a part of a good time, it makes me wonder about a more serious questions having to do with sexism, objectification, unsafe sex, what it takes to really have fun, and what this all says about our society.
The men of JShore make no qualms about their hook-up style; they pick up a girl at the club, go home, all have sex in their beds (that are usually in the same room as someone else, if not multiple people), and then call a cab for the girl to leave. The girls that are invited to come back to the house are never allowed to stay the night. This sets a horrible example of objectifying women and seeing her purely for sex, and nothing more. It’s actually disgusting to me. Arguably one of the funniest characters, Pauly D, also says some of the most offensive statements. Some quotes from him:
“When I go into the club I have a game plan, I don’t wanna waste my time and take home a girl that just wants to hang out, I just wanna get to the business… so. you light it up and then you move on & at the end of the night you see who you end up with.”
“They’re cool girls. They’re smart and everything, but they want to hook up just as well, but I think it will take a couple of times seeing them to hook up. They’re not like whores.”
These are only two of the many examples of what Pauly has said over the years. What bothers me the most about this is that Pauly D is around 30 or 31 years old. It makes me think about what college aged males think of this example, of how long they can continue living this sexist lifestyle before actually realizing they need to grow up and respect women (which our society really should have already taught them to do). Boys watching this show want to be like Pauly D, or the other males, because they get women, but they are further being taught by these men that women are purely sex objects; if she doesn’t want to have sex with you, she isn’t worth your time. They will describe women as “DTF” (“down to F…” I think you can figure that out), and that’s all they’re looking for. Also, the men refer to “ugly”, “unattractive”, or “fat” women that are with “hot” women as “grenades” or “landmines”. They even go so far as to use a “grenade whistle” that they blow when these women are around. This just adds to the body image problem that girls and women already have from what our country has taught them. No one wants to be labeled a “grenade”, so girls would be trying harder to not get that label. In reality, many of the girls they refer to as “grenades” aren’t even unattractive or overweight, but the men decide to insult her and make fun of her anyway to get it in with her friend. What’s worse is that females have been calling other females “grenades”, and this is just adding to self-loathing in our country for our gender. Really, this show is repressing women and doesn’t even realize it or address it.
Also, I’ve noticed the show talks a lot about sex (aka “smushing” or “getting it in”), but not much about if the sex is protected. That’s just plain setting a bad example right there for a younger audience, who already think they can act without consequence. Add the smushing to the excessive drinking in every single episode and you really have a recipe for disaster.
What fascinates me about JShore is not just the characters on there (yes, I’m referring to them as characters because I refuse to believe they are real people), but also the fact that this show came on the air when MTV was looking to revamp its programming. True, JShore is not glamorous or classy like “Cribs”, “My Super Sweet Sixteen”, or “The Hills”, but it also shows so much excessiveness; excessive drinking, tanning, sex, etc. The cast is being paid millions now to live their ordinary lives, and as I’ve said before, living them without consequence. Rather than attempting to emulate those doing good in the world, students watching this show would rather dress like Snooki (I’m not sure why), or JWoww (again, I’m not sure why), or just go to clubs with the intent of picking up agirl for a few hours and then forgetting about them in the morning.
I’m ashamed to say how much I watch this show, but I watch it for the entertainment value, rather than the aesthetic value. I see the show as a joke, as the people on it as characters, and as it holding absolutely no messages about life. Unfortunately, I can’t speak for everyone when I say this, and I think that despite some of the cast getting pregnant or going to rehab (cough cough Snooki and the Situation), the show is here to stay for many more years, continuing to infect our culture.
MTV truly was a revolution when it started; no other stations at the time were offering music videos around the clock like it was. However, the station has turned into one that provides programs of self-indulgence, excess, and irresponsibility. It is teaching middle and high schoolers that you don’t need to try hard to become famous; talent seems to be dwindling if we judge by what we’re watching on MTV. We know all about the cast of “Jersey Shore” and “Teen Mom”, but what have they really done other than be on television, acting as themselves? They are not positive role models, and MTV is not touching upon real issues that we are facing in our society. We should be teaching our youth how to save money and why getting an education and pursuing a career is important. Instead, we’re showing them programs that include clips of shows where people get injured and make fools of themselves. And according to MTV, that is something to be admired in our culture.
However, the revolution that is MTV and its influence on our culture is undeniable. It made strides in all new ways that other stations couldn’t begin to offer. Even when MTV took a step away from constant music to instead start showing other types of television shows, it was still making waves with its programming. “The Real World” essentially began the current reality television craze, and I really like to think it had noble intentions when the show first began. The first season was all about bringing different types of people from all over the country, in an attempt to get these different personalities to get to know a world outside of their own. Now, the show is all about gaining and keeping ratings, focusing on throwing a bunch of alcoholic 20-somethings into an insanely furnished house, hoping that multiple people will hook up with one another. If MTV is actually trying to “keep up with needs of the changing audience“, they’re telling us that we’re now not looking to watch tv with much substance behind it. “True Life” is another program whose de-evolution, I’d say, reminds me of “The Real World”‘s over time. “True Life” really has had some amazing episodes that deal with important issues, such as those of drug abuse, morbid obesity, Tourette’s Syndrome, and OCD. However, the show has a problem of adding in episodes that we would consider more “fluff”, such as “I’m a High School Freshman”, “I’m a Textaholic” and “I Have Embarrassing Parents” (which is actually a two part episode). However, the show has done far better than “The Real World” with staying socially relevant. Some of the most recent episodes include “I’m Occupying Wall Street” and “I Have Diabetes”, which are both important issues. This gives me some hope that MTV really is trying to keep their reality programming more on the realistic side.
MTV seems to have gone through more of a reboot recently, starting with the emergence of the juggernaut that is “Jersey Shore”. That show is painfully easy to pick on and make an example of. You’d probably think that means I’ll skip over it, since it is such an easy target, but really, I’m saving it for its own special, private post (look forward to that!). I’m instead going to focus on the shows that were popular right before the rise of the shore. More specifically, “Laguna Beach”, “The Hills”, “Cribs” (and from that “Teen Cribs”, which is essentially just teenagers showing off what their parents have bought them…I’m not 100% sure why someone thought it was necessary to make a tv show out of this), “Pimp My Ride”, and of course, “My Super Sweet Sixteen”. All of these shows invite viewers into the excessive lifestyles of not only celebrities, but also those who just happened to grow up in affluential neighborhoods with wealthy parents. “Pimp My Ride” might be the only exception to this generalization, since the show was about crappy cars getting made over, but really, the make-overs were a tad over the top…
The show that really takes the cake from all of these programs would have to be “My Super Sweet Sixteen“. The show SCREAMS excessive spending and spoiled teenagers. Literally, the teenagers are always screaming that their parents weren’t buying them enough for their sweet sixteen, which is obviously the most important event of their entire life. It’s really all downhill after that point. The show was essentially encouraging teenagers to feel entitled, as if they deserve all of the items that their parents were shelling out so much money for. On top of this, the show was giving teens the wrong idea of how parents can spend money. “Super Sweet” would have you thinking that all parents are limitless ATMs, just waiting to hand you your every desire. The only good that the show does is bring together spoiled teens of all races, genders, and sexualities, to truly show that greed does not discriminate.
After the reign of “My Super Sweet Sixteen”, MTV has taken a step back and realized that not all that glitters is necessarily viewings gold. Our current generation is sick of this excessive spending and flaunting of wealth – we are Generation Debt and have actual money issues to worry about. So, now, programming has changed more from these previous “reality” shows to more scripted shows and shows that are “reality” but focused on those of a lower class (aka “Teen Mom”, which, have no fear, will also be getting its own post). However, in this programming, we still see no mention of how MTV is addressing, or even thinking about addressing, Generation Debt. Sure, we are no longer having lavish lifestyles shoved down our throats (on MTV, that is. Bravo is a whole other problem), but are we learning anything? I’m not saying it’s MTV’s job to teach its audience a “life lesson” or anything, but for a station with such an impressionable and wide-reaching audience, it could be doing a hell of a lot more to make a difference.
On my quest to observe and study other other blogs, I decided to begin my search by looking up blogs created by and pertaining to MTV. I found three blogs from the MTV website, but also two just about shows that MTV airs or “issues” that MTV would touch upon. These “issues” were not so much issues that would pertain to viewers themselves, but more celebrity-related “news stories”.
Something I found very interesting was the way that MTV.com divides up its stories that are blogged about. I looked at three separate pages, one entitled “Newsroom”, one called “Buzzworthy” and the third “Remote Control”. While “Remote Control” is clearly about MTV television shows (you could guess that from the title of the blog), the other two titles are more misleading and confusing than one would think. “Buzzworthy” is the less confusing and misleading of the two; it is all about the most recent MTV gossip, aka information about musicians and their new cds and singles and whatnot. There are actually three posts about Justin Bieber on the first page alone. Apparently, there is that much important new information about him that needs to be shared immediately.
Now, the confusion sets in. You would think that “Newsroom” would be about actual news: world issues, issues pertaining to the youth that watch MTV, information other than news about Britney Spears’ unreleased music. Oh wait, sorry, is that third suggestion not actually considered news? One would think, but the latter of that statement is exactly what “Newsroom” is about. The first article I encountered was about Britney’s unreleased music. The next entry was about Katy Perry’s new cd. What I do not understand is how MTV.com differentiates between what is “Buzzworthy” and what is from the “Newsroom”. Both are essentially about what musicians are doing recently, and nothing that would actually be considered “news”.
Now, back to the “Remote Control” blog. After reading through several entries, I came to the realization that it is in fact the most insightful of the three MTV blogs. While it does indeed discuss MTV television shows, it also discusses what the “actors” or participants in those shows are doing. There is an entry about social activist Dan Savage traveling across America to tell teenagers to “embrace their inner awkwardness”. There is an entry that discusses “Jersey Shore” star Vinny Guadagnino’s new book about his struggle with anxiety and desire to live in the moment. All of this gives me hope for this “new” MTV, that is trying to be more socially conscious. However, this area of the blog is also filled with complete fluff information, such as a behind the scenes look at the show “Fantasy Factory”, which is mostly just the crew messing around, and a picture of “Jersey Shore”‘s Jenni “JWoww” Farley’s dog, that has recently been dyed purple/blue (for reasons completely unknown to me).
This search through MTV and MTV related blogs just brought me back to the conclusion I already had figured out when first doing research for this blog: MTV walks away from important social issues in favor of telling the audience about celebrities and their own shows. MTV is reaching such a widespread age group and audience and I feel that they have much more of an obligation than they realize to talk about real issues that America’s youth are facing today. Nothing in these blogs I read touched upon Generation Debt; it is being virtually ignored by MTV’s programming and blogging. So for a station that is so devoted to its audience and what the audience wants to watch, shouldn’t they be doing more to inform that audience of what is happening around them?