Amid all the controversy that it gelled up last summer, MTV has decided to bring back the nefarious reality television show Jersey Shore for a second season. The big catch in this year’s fish nets: it’s being filmed in Miami. Yes, as if MTV’s judgment/casting call to include a crew of 7 non-New Jersey residents for a show about living on the Jersey Shore wasn’t enough, now the dung heap isn’t even being filmed in the Garden State. Perhaps more than any show in reality TV (and, hence, all of TV) history, Jersey Shore is a guilty viewing pleasure. But when asked to pinpoint a reason why we still watch, it can be difficult, perhaps for reason of cognitive underload.  I.e., the show, like most parts of pop culture these days, makes you dumb. 

If Jersey Shore were a rapper, it’d be Lil Wayne: flashy as hell and generally clever to a point, but morally despicable to the lollipop-sucking, drank-drinking core. Perhaps Vanilla Ice would be more apropos in “the Situation’s” case. It reminds one a lot of the Jerry Springer Show back in the day. Like Springer, the fights on Jersey Shore seem to be encouraged by the people at MTV, unlike another pretty embarrassingly guilty pleasure, (especially after every season since Puck or that crazy-haired, whiskey-loving, Bob Geldolf-look-a-like, Dominic, departed), the Real World, which used to kick cast members off the second any fistacuffs went down. And I’m pretty sure a cast member of Real World LA got sent home just for yanking a girl’s towel off – that type of [stuff] happens at least once an episode on Jersey Shore. 

Sure, while proponents of the show argue that the antics of “the Situation” or “DJ Pauly D” or “Snooki” or “Sammi Sweetheart” must be gauged through a lens of humor, with their indiscretion chalked up to hedonistic, “Ron-Ron”-fueled youth, you sort of get the feeling these kids are going to commit a serious felony one of these nights. And we’re not talking about “beating up the beat.” Snooki, in fact, just got arrested for disorderly conduct while filming for the (don’t tell me) Third Season. She also got punched in the face by a drunk dude last season. MTV showed so many slow-motion replays of the incident that it became almost comical.

What is it about our culture that reinforces the urge/instinctual yearning to click this show on? Are we that much in love with witnessing the obliteration of eight total strangers’ future job prospects?  (That is, if they do not decide to work in a Seaside Heights boardwalk t-shirt booth, or (more likely), do some punked out MTV Jersey Shore v. Road Rules challenge for the next twenty years). Vinny, who along with J-Woww is probably the show’s only likeable character, had previously discussed entering law school. What dean in his/her right mind would accept him? 

I for one wish I had the willpower not to turn the show on like most people turn on Nascar to watch for the wreck. As a somewhat young adult, I now realize that this show will encourage a certain element of America’s population – an element who needs not the slightest modicum of encouragement to begin with. This “element,” (who have been known to talk about their “new haircut” and call women “skanks”, while drinking “jagger bombs” and/or “MUSCLE MILK!”), will now see the show and think people actually enjoy having them around. And no I’m not talking about New York/New Jersey Italians – I’m talking about the type of kids who should make parents want to eat their young. These are our new pop culture icons.

 In the case of MTV’s programming decisions, and in the case of what the youth of this nation (unlike their parents, unfortunately) are choosing to consume, crap is starting to imitate life.

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Home Culture MTV’s Jersey Shore is the New Jerry Springer Show