It is now abundantly clear to me how new “reality” TV shows get made. It is much the same way that the rest of the world gets made, it seems. MTV, in particular, is doing more to ruin the entire world than any other network. There was a time when the worst thing MTV could foist upon an unsuspecting public was that Blind Melon video with the little chick in the bumblebee suit, leading people the world over to think that Blind Melon was a good band, when in fact they were not. Now, however, MTV’s evil is more insidious. Now, it isn’t Blind Melon that is cool, it’s Tila Tequila and Heidi Montag and Lauren Conrad and an absolute ton of other gigantic douchebags.
Eight of those douchebags form the cast of Jersey Shore, the first season of which comes to DVD July 20th courtesy Paramount Home Entertainment. All the guys have six-packs and rippling oily muscles, but I have it on good female authority that outside the abs, none of these individuals are attractive. The same goes for the women, who are tabloid fixtures of late but are decidedly less attractive than one would assume, given how often they are photographed. On this show, everyone (women and effeminate men) takes several hours to get ready every day before leaving the house. I wonder how horribly ugly they would be without that kind of effort.
So it’s clear to me that MTV did not cast Jersey Shore based on the attractiveness of the participants. So what, exactly, were the criteria? It appears that they had to have two qualities. First, they had to be the eight Worst People In The World. I think Keith Olbermann could expand his nightly Worst Persons segment to eight slots, and rotate memers of Jersey Shore through on a daily basis, and never run out of material. Second, they had to be dumb. And not just regular-person stupid, like Joey Lawrence or Sarah Palin. No, they had to be staggering-stupid, the kind that makes you catch your breath and gasp in amazement. Did that muscular douchebag just lose an IQ contest to a box of Triscuits? Oh my. He did.
There’s also some Italian criteria here. Each character has to BE Italian. But more than that, each one of them has to be willing to undermine their entire culture by feeding the negative racial stereotypes that make smart, sensible, normal Italian people justifiably angry. They must call themselves “guidos”, and be proud of it. They must wear chains and tank tops at all times. If a tank top cannot be found, they must wear the tightest T-shirt they can find, and spend all of their time flexing. They must look feel vastly superior to that sad, lame mass of humanity who goes from day to day without the aid of spray-on tans, muscle grease, buckets of makeup and industrial size vats of many different hair products.
I wonder what it’s like to go through life with only one third of your day free? If it takes you four hours to get your face, hair and clothes on in order to leave the house, and you have to work for almost four hours later that same day, then you have only four hours to get drunk, fight strangers, display your boobs and say stupid, stupid things. There is so little time to create drama among your friends by backbiting and subtly being a douchebag. See, I don’t waste that kind of time on my hair. I have a full six, sometimes SEVEN hours each day wherein I can be a colossal jackass. It’s a luxury, I know.
Anyway, this is how the world now works. MTV decides that some vain, selfish, loser morons might make for entertaining TV. Then they hire Tila Tequila or the cast of The Hills, and go from there. Now, I have watched The Hills in order to review that show too. And the cast of Jersey Shore makes the cast of The Hills look like disciples of Stephen Hawking. Which, let me tell you, is an astronomical feat. Plugging the BP oil spill is a slightly less daunting operation than finding eight people dumber, more self-centred and more obnoxious than the cast of The Hills. But it has been done.
So. MTV hires Jersey Shore jerks, because they think they are attractive, and because they are jerks. And stupid. Then, MTV convinces people that this is good television. For some reason, perhaps because MTV has established its young-people bonafides many many years ago with videos like that bumblebee thing, young people buy in and watch the program. Because they are young, and their brains are not yet fully formed, these kids think that the Jersey Shore people are cool. Which makes them instantly much dumber. And then, a few years later, they have continued their downward spiral of stupidity to the point where now they are ready to be the stars of MTV’s next “reality” show. Then more young people watch that, and the vicious cycle continues.
Eventually, the world will, indeed, descend into a remarkable level of communal stupidity, as was foretold in the film Idiocracy, and we will, years from now, be watching Ow My Balls on television. In the meantime, we have Jersey Shore. I realize I have said very little about the show itself in this review. That was by design. Having watched the entire first season, I felt my brain cells numbing quickly, and I fear that if I continue to think about the show, I might wind up dumb enough to be a cast member on some future MTV atrocity. If you want to know what happened on the show, ask my wife. She is, as I type this, watching the special features on the television upstairs.
P.S. – I refused to watch the special features because one of them involves Michael Cera. And I love that kid, and I really don’t want to lose respect for him.