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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Italian Groups Are Upset About MTV's Jersey Shore's Stereotyping.......Now Where Are The Black Folks For The Rest Of Viacom's Minstrel Programming?

I have yet to see MTV's Jersey Shore reality show but there appears to be a storm brewing from Italian groups that are critical of the stereotypical depictions being promoted throughout the series. Trust me, I can appreciate the frustration that certain ethnicities might have if one can not see balance in these portrayals. But the protests and anger appear to be having an affect on some level. Here's more on this backlash, courtesy of the NationalPost.com:

A new MTV reality show set to debut on Dec. 3 titled "Jersey Shore" portrays Italian-Americans in a negative light and should be canceled, according to Italian-American organizations. National president of UNICO (a group that aims to promote and enhance the image of Italian Americans) Andre Dimino says he is most upset by the constant usage of the term "guido" to refer to the cast.

"If you replace Italian-Americans with any other ethnic group, would they use such a pejorative term to promote the show?"

UNICO is justifiably upset, as the show intentionally portrays the cast as violent, beach-loving morons who can barely form coherent sentences let alone contribute anything remotely culturally positive to counteract the rampant stereotypes already plaguing New Jersey. Not only does "Jersey Shore" feed into this, it relies on these over-the-top stereotypes to promote a show that has nothing else to offer to its audience.

Yet, isn't that essentially the definition of reality TV these days? It seems this dying TV breed will resort to anything remotely controversial in a desperate attempt to get ratings from brain-dead viewers who happily digest this visual junk food rather than risk inducing a headache from intellectual stimulation. Great, now I'm stereotyping.

Could someone explain why else MTV would offer up three seasons of "Flavor of Love?"

MTV's description of the show says it all:

"MTV has focused its lens on various subcultures and rites of passage, uncovering a host of memorable characters in the process. With its newest series, Jersey Shore, MTV peels back yet a different curtain to follow eight young adults as they move into a summer share to indulge in everything Seaside Heights, New Jersey, one of the most popular summer hot spots, has to offer. Jersey Shore uncovers sometimes surprising, often hilarious and usually over-the-top personalities as they juggle work, love, nightlife, friendship and the drama that ensues. In the end, viewers see that there is more to these tan and buff individuals than hair gel."

Ironically, the above piece alluded to the Flavor of Love, but the question remains....where is the outrage from folks of color regarding MTV/Viacom's promotion of the other neo-minstrel shows? On some level, I believe we have become complacent and lulled into a belief that the Black versions of the Jersey Shore show are appropriate, authentic and inconsequential to the Black image. Again folks, is this much to do about nothing or are we having the mirror being placed in front of us again regarding the need for a more balanced cultural landscape?

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