Certain life questions have always baffled me: Why are sporks not more common? Why, against all that is good and pure in the world, does Nickelback continue to exist? And now most recently, plaguing me the most at night, is the question of why people are so fanatical about MTV’s “Jersey Shore.”
People are fanatical about “Jersey Shore” to the point where every other party I hear of is “Jersey Shore”-themed. I just can’t go out without witnessing at least one creeper doing an imitation fist pump anymore. I’m terrified that this craze will only worsen to a point that girls turn to Snooki as a style icon. (Here’s some advice: Don’t wear five Bumpits in your hair at once. You will look like a human Q-tip. Actually, don’t ever wear a Bumpit, ever.)
Just in case you’re not familiar with this TV series — just in case you live under a rock, in a bomb shelter or in another country — the show documents the lives of eight — seven, once Angelina was overwhelmed by the daily grind of the T-shirt shop — cast members as they party, work and live together in a beach house on the Jersey Shore. The situation (not Mike) results in a tragically trashy “Real World”-style narrative in which its cast members swear by a pre-party routine known as GTL: gym, tanning, laundry.
OK, I get it. I’ll admit that this show has snagged me in a few times purely for its fascination factor. In what a friend refers to as “the most brilliant empirical sociological experiment of our time,” this TV series invaluably offers us dabbling social scientists the chance to observe the guido species — a group of creatures with an inexplicable affinity for hair gel, throwing rims on Hondas and orange skin — in its natural habitat. Are these even real people? My hypothesis is no.
The show’s no better or worse than any other of the same tier of respectability — it for sure can’t be any more ethically reprehensible than the midget wrestling episodes Jerry Springer airs from time to time. The reason “Jersey Shore” irks me so much is because it just kind of came out of nowhere. I didn’t even have time to prepare for the annoying onslaught of trite day-to-day references to the show before this hit TV show became a cultural plague.
The show’s overwhelming popularity just doesn’t make sense. The show is not well-produced, and it offers no truths worthy of pilgrimage. In fact, it awards me nothing but a deep sense of gratitude that I am not one of those people. I’m pretty sure the only reason this show caught on is because people see it everywhere — and then they become convinced that they too enjoy it.
Many sociologists study a concept that might offer some insight into this fad, and this concept is called homophily — essentially, in clichéd terms, it is the idea that birds of a feather flock together. The idea of homophily suggests that relationships are bound and strengthened by similarities in interests, characteristics, preferences and so on.
On the flip side, this seems to reinforce the concept that people tweak their personalities to better reflect their friends’ likes and dislikes. Think about how when you meet a new friend, over some time you begin to pick up their verbal ticks and sayings, and vice versa — for example, all of my friends love the term “creepy rando” now.
And I think that at the root of it all, that’s all that’s happening when our college culture blows up with pop phenomena like “Jersey Shore,” Soulja Boy, “Twilight” or even Obamania. It’s not that these fads have anything to offer or are that personally enriching — they simply are able to market themselves as something popular and likeable, then they pick up a fast following that grows out of control. You’re at a bar, everyone starts fist pumping and laughing and you’re not going to be that one jerk who doesn’t find it funny.
Well, in this case, I might have to be that one jerk. Yes, “Jersey Shore” may be fun to watch hungover on a Saturday morning, just so you can feel better about yourself, but in the end it’s just a really crappy TV series that reflects pretty poorly on the present state of available entertainment. And I, for one, would rather this trend of terrible entertainment come to an end before we’re remembered as “that ‘Twilight’ and ‘Jersey Shore’ generation.”
Asst. Editorials Editor Catherine Cai is a College sophomore from Atlanta.