Saturday, July 31, 2010
In Defence of Trash TV
I may sound like I'm contradicting many of the things I've written in this space, but hear me out. As Jersey Shore's second season has premiered this week, the venom spewed last winter from atop many a pulpit and high horse across the land has been renewed as well. I can't say that the opinions of the show's detractors are exactly unfounded. I get why people scowl at the show. Many people who know me are probably surprised that I am a pretty big fan of it. So allow me to play a little devil's advocate and present my defence of Jersey Shore (yes, I used the British spelling of the word there and in the title, just for fun),
When I turn the TV on these days, probably 80% of the time it's either to watch sports or to laugh. To take something like Jersey Shore past face value is like asking for the nutrition facts of that 1/4 lb hot dog you just got from 7-Eleven. You really shouldn't do it. Being from New Jersey my whole life, I get a kick out of the show. Even though the trashiness of some of the characters is played up as the show's biggest asset (or, on second thought, maybe it doesn't need to be played up), it doesn't offend me. I've never been concerned that I may meet someone from another part of the country and they'll automatically associate me with Ronnie or Mike "The Situation" just because I live in New Jersey. Why should they? I don't have half a can of wax in my hair, I don't have any tattoos, my sunglasses only cost about $20, and (despite being an avid weightlifter) I don't own a wifebeater.
What I don't get about the outrage over Jersey Shore is that the show isn't a lie or a gross embellishment. If you put cameras in any random house in Seaside Heights even without MTV selecting a cast, the end result would not be terribly different from what we got in Season One. I know it may piss people off that Jersey Shore makes it look like the only things in Jersey are guidos, blowouts, and gold chains. But the fact that some of the finer parts of the shore and the state in general are downplayed and/or ignored on the show, that doesn't make it any less true about what does go on in Seaside. The place is a summer-resort version of Hamsterdam and has been for a while.
Here is what my main case for Trash TV boils down to - we all need some sort of outlet from our daily grind, a chance to turn our minds off for a while. Deep down, everyone has the same facets and angles to their personalities, it's just a question of which sides we let out the most often. Some choose to feed the intellectual side more, some choose to feed the humorous side more, and some choose to feed the crude and base side more. So even though I've hated on shows like Oprah, The Bachelor, and The Bachelorette, as well as celebrity gossip of all shapes and sizes, what my annoyance really comes from is when people treat such things as their most worthwhile form of entertainment. It's not the worst thing in the world to watch Trash TV, as long as you're able to admit how stupid it is. So go ahead and feed the crude and base side of your mind for a little bit. Just keep the appetite within reason.