As a native of New Jersey and a witness to the increasing population of guidos in my predominantly Italian town way before MTV's cash cow Jersey Shore aired last year, I decided to re-explore the very location that I once vacationed at as a child, which has now become the epicenter of a cultural phenomenon. So, prepared to see sights that I could never forget (try as I might), I voyaged to where MTV has started filming the third season of the show: the Seaside Heights boardwalk. Or, as my peers and I have always called it, Sleazeside Heights.
In fairness, I should first note that Sleazeside Heights had already been experiencing an annual increase in trashiness prior to the arrival of the Jersey Shore cast (contrary to the assumption made by new cast member Deena Nicole that the show was only recently making people choose to come here for inebriated debauchery, the town has been the choice location for post-prom and Memorial Day weekend stays for years). In addition, many people not from the Tri-State area don't realize that, despite the name of the show, most New Jersey beach areas don't have the same high skanky-to-clean ratio as Sleazeside. Thanks to MTV, however, visitors are now celebrating (and participating in) douchebag behavior like never before.
When I first arrived on the boardwalk during my recent trip, I was welcomed by a creepy guy hanging out a window with a Nikon camera, while my friend pointed out that Ronnie was on top of a restaurant known for its "hot Italian sausages," according to a sign. When we turned the corner, we saw crowds of fanatical people standing far enough back to see over the top of a T-shirt store (possibly the one from the show's first season), where you can purchase tops spray-painted with "Italian Stallion," "Daddy's Little Guidette" and "FBI: Federal Bikini Inspector." Everyone was trying to catch a glimpse and snap a cellphone picture of the cast members. I had to bite my tongue from screaming "Get a real job!" for fear that one of them would pour some Ron Ron juice on me.
As I continued my journey through the Ground Zero for juiceheads and sweet bitches, I soon realized that just by glancing around, I could successfully cast several bad MTV reality shows without leaving the block. I took notice of people of all shapes, sizes, ages and pantsless-ness wearing black shirts with the phrase "Come at Me Bro" on the front and "Fist Pumping Like Champs" on the back, in case anyone had any doubt in their mind that they weren't prepared to fight or frolic (an angry leprechaun-like form of dancing popularized by guidos along with the fist pump). I was on the lookout for a shirt stating that "Pickles Is My Thing [sic]," but was severely disappointed to not find one that I could wear to show my love for Vlasic. On the other hand, I did discover a "Shoot the Guido" paintball booth featuring blown-up versions of DJ Pauly D's and Snooki's thick heads (almost as massive as their egos). Finally, someone on the boardwalk was simpatico with me.
Admittedly, like millions of other viewers, I, too, have partaken in the guilty pleasure provided by ridiculing these Oompa Loompa skin-toned individuals each week. But in light of the abundance of Jersey Shore marketing opportunities that gaudy T-shirt booths and others have taken advantage of, it will be interesting to see if Season 3 manages to capture the cast the same way the first season at Seaside Heights did. Will they work in a shop filled with shirts carrying phrases they made famous? Instead of wondering who the hell the guy who keeps flashing his chest at Karma or the girl doing ass-exposing flips on the dance floor think they are, will people be pushing and shoving to get close enough to the Shore gang to smell their scents of Axe spray and desperation for fame? Or, will they now ask, "Who the hell do The Situation and Snooki think they are?" as they monopolize all of the attention in every club they crash. It's telling that when the police recently arrested Snooki for causing a public disturbance (a charge that could easily be leveled against many of the folks I saw on the boards), she allegedly slurred, "Do you know who I am?!" Wonder if that part will make it to air.
Putting aside the Forza Italia soccer jackets, the constant consumption of chicken parmesan and the duly-noted declaration of pride for their Italian heritage, it doesn't matter so much about whether or not the cast is entirely Italian or even whether they're actually from New Jersey. I guess what ultimately bothers me about the Shore stars is the loads of dough (and I don't mean boardwalk zeppoles) they receive for simply doing what any other guido can do: party and pick fights. When it comes time for Season Four, I'd suggest that MTV not even bother renegotiating salaries. Thanks to the show, there are more proud douches than ever before at my old stomping grounds -- just look for the "GTL" hoodies and "Future Porn Star" trucker hats. Sleazeside, you have arrived.
Check out what our vloggers Beth and Val had to say about the second season of Jersey Shore:
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