Jersey Shore’s guidos and guidettes create Italian chaos on MTV

By Paulina Yousif

Jersey Shore: two words that have created chaos for MTV, and an addiction for Lane students. The new reality show follows eight young Italian-Americans from various parts of New York that are vacationing in Seaside Heights, Jersey Shore for a month during the summer.

There are eight “characters” on the show who are all guidos and guidettes. A guido is a stereotype depicting Italian-American men as excessively tan, very muscular, that wear tight muscle shirts, rock the blowout hairstyle, and are extremely proud to be Italian. A guidette is the female version minus the excessive muscles. The term guido used to be an offensive word to refer to Italian-Americans but now it is a life style and, to some, a compliment.

The show premiered Dec. 3 with controversy surrounding it. Many Italian-Americans and New Jersey residents felt that the show would depict them in a negative way. The premiere was weak, but the show’s ratings grew to millions of viewers by the third episode.

“Ratings get higher because the people on the show are not your average cast. They are like characters as opposed to actual people and they do things that some people would normally be ashamed to do. That is why people watch,” said Emily Pacione, Div. 045, who is an Italian-American.

The more the show grows in ratings, the higher the controversy surrounding it becomes. Jersey Shore has created problems with advertisers such as Domino’s Pizza, who pulled their commercials from airings of the show saying that they have no issue with MTV. They just don’t want to be on during that particular show.

“That is too extreme [to pull ads off during the show], but I could see why some people wouldn’t want their brand associated with this show due to the press that it is receiving,” said Sabrina Koval, Div. 021, who is also an Italian-American.

Not all Italian-Americans find the show offensive. To them it is just a show. The show is very similar to The Real World. Usually people chosen to be on The Real World are chosen because they are “reality TV material.”

“I am not offended by the show. I do not think that it is offensive to Italian-Americans either because the show isn’t saying that all Italians are like this or that the reason these people behave the way they do is because they are Italian,” said Koval. “If people make that generalization then they are ignorant about how all other Italian-Americans are. I do agree that the show makes the ‘jersey shore’ seem like a place for hook-ups and clubs. I don’t think it is overall offensive. It is just a TV show.”

“[The show does not] portray Italians in a poor manner because if you put a bunch of people in their twenties in a house to party, [the same situation will happen regardless of race], not just with Italian-Americans, said Molly Dunbar, Div. 153.

However, Ms. Paganelli, an Italian teacher and an Italian-American from the east coast, finds the show offensive. She also said most parts of the Jersey Shore used to be different from when she used to go there for vacations. It was mostly a family oriented place because of the boardwalk, but that has now changed from what people see on the show.

“I am offended by it because it appears to be that it is meant to give a general representation of Italian-Americans, and it is much farther from the truth,” she said. “I am from there and it misrepresents Italians from New York and New Jersey and the rest of the east coast.”

The show has also had some controversial “oh my gosh” moments. One of the guidettes on the show, Snooki, was punched by a drunk man while they were at a bar. MTV chose not to air the clip during the show, making the screen go blank during the actual punch. But it did air the scene several times during commercial previews, drawing an audience and raising ratings. Fans of the show were angered that that clip was cut out during the actual episode because it was what drew them to watch. The clip, however, was posted all over the internet so was still seen by millions of people.

“I was attracted to watching the show because I saw that girl get hit in the previews. I love The Real World and it looked like it was going to be almost the same,” said Olivia O’Donovan, Div. 150.

“As messed up as the clip was, that is the kind of stuff people are attracted to on TV and that is what they like to watch for some reason,” said Koval.

Controversy aside, the guido stereotype exists in Chicago as well as the east coast, but that does not mean that they are clones from the show.

“My cousin is definitely a guido, but that does not mean he is trashy and a womanizer [like on the show],” said Pacione. “Eight people do not represent more than a million.”

“Stereotypes come from reality. People observe how a group acts, but they need to remember that does not mean all of them are that way,” said Paganelli. “Saying all Italian-Americans from the east coast are guidos and behave the same way is like the generalization that all Sicilians are mobsters.”

“The way the guidos behave on the show is because of the type of person they are, not because they are dressed like guidos, or look like guidos,” said Mitchel Yabes, Div. 042.

There have also been many spoofs on the internet that people have posted which have made the show even more popular. MTV aired a segment called Jersey Shore Spoof’d, which consisted of the cast watching the spoofs and rating the ones they liked with a fist pump (a signature guido dance move).

On the season finale reunion, one of the guidos, Pauly, was asked what he thought about the controversy and misrepresentation issue. He defended himself by saying that he is one person who happens to be Italian and a guido, but that is just him and he is representing himself and no one else. With that, this show has been picked up for a second season, despite all of the petitions and on-going controversy from Italian-Americans. However, there is speculation that the second season of the show will not be as popular because it will be featuring a whole new cast.