For two years, MTV’s reality show Jersey Shore has been offending Italian-American advocacy groups (and intelligent life-forms in general) with its portrayal of a group of young Italian-American adults chosen primarily for their addiction to tanning salons, ability to consume large amounts of alcohol and propensity for drama.
Now, MTV has decided to help the Jersey Shore cast get “back to their roots” by moving the show to Florence, Italy for a season. However, if the cast was expecting a warm welcome in the “old country,” they’ve no doubt been disappointed. In the process, they’re learning the heard way about the differences between the Italian culture they’re living in now and the Italian-American culture they grew up in.
The New York Post notes that Italians seem to see the show as an insult:
“Their stay has yielded one cultural insult after another for Italians, who fail to identify with the “Guido” mantra of palestra, abbronzatura, lavanderia (gym, tan, laundry). On Day 1, the Italian press labeled them “supercafoni,” or superboors.”
So far, the cast has been banned from all of the city’s important historical landmarks as well as museums like the Uffizi Gallery. Their limited knowledge of Italian has definitely caused problems as well, leading the male cast members to incur $350 worth of parking tickets in less than a week. Two of the girls were almost refused service in a restaurant. Stylish locals are offended by their over-the-top attire, and are avoiding them as much as possible.
It’s hard to blame Italians for not wanting to be associated with this show. However, it’s also hard not to feel a tiny bit sorry for the cast. After all, it seems that least part of the motivation for the Jersey Shore crew’s outlandish behavior is a sense of pride in their heritage. The express that pride by turning themselves into living caricatures, combining all of the negative stereotypes of Italian-Americans into one garish package, but it’s there. So the sign on a rival pizza parlour across from the one where they work must surely have stung:
“Jersey Shore? No thanks. Only real Italian pizza.”