MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ Not The Real Thing
Maybe there's no such thing as bad publicity, but Jersey Shore tourism officials aren't happy about their locale's portrayal on MTV's reality series Jersey Shore. The show, which premiered last week and features lots of booze, trash talk and hair gel, follows eight Italian-Americans sharing a beach house in Seaside Heights, N.J.
"We want people to know that there's much more to our area than singles' clubbing and drinking," says Daniel Cappello of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau. "But we certainly are in no way angry at the producers or actors."
Maybe they aren't. But plenty of others are. The Italian-American group UNICO National derided the show for its use of "guido," among other unsavory stereotypes. (Think too-tan, fist-pumping, g-droppin' party people, though as housemate Paulie D explains in the premiere, "I was born a guido. It's just a lifestyle. It's being Italian. It's representing family, friends, tanning, gel.")
Two advertisers, Domino's Pizza and American Family Insurance, have pulled ads. And Jersey Shore's tourism people issued a statement criticizing the show's "one-dimensional, dramatized version of a very small group of visitors' summer experiences."
MTV said: "We understand that this show is not intended for every audience and depicts just one aspect of youth culture. Our intention was never to stereotype, discriminate or offend."
A key reason for the tourism bureau's dismay, says Cappello: "The Jersey Shore does not have a brand identity to much of America other than what they're seeing now. The name of the show is our destination."
Two other TV series also have shown unflattering sides of the Garden State. The HBO Mob hit "The Sopranos" spawned tours to filming locations, though Cappello believes they had a negligible effect on tourism. More recently, "The Real Housewives of New Jersey" honed in on five women who shop, lunch and fight a lot. "But that was less of a show about New Jersey and more about the stereotype of women who shop and don't work," he says.
As for the ultimate effect - if any -Jersey Shore will have on the Jersey Shore: It's too early to tell, says Cappello.