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Lost at Sea

In: Novels

Submitted By dc2699
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Pages 3
“Jersey Shore,” a recent addition to MTV’s fine family of reality shows, resembles the network’s pioneering series “The Real World,” which is now almost twenty years old—a human chemistry experiment with explosions guaranteed. In both shows, a group of carefully, cannily chosen people with big personalities—or personality disorders—are thrown together to live for a period of time with few obligations and all kinds of ways to create a lifetime of regrets, not least for viewers. The logo of these shows might be one of those large red plastic cups used for beer (and beer pong) at frat parties, and in evidence in many teen-agers’ Facebook photos, signalling the overflow of alcohol and expectations that happens at large gatherings and the nausea that often results the next day, triggered partly by the fact that someone caught it all on camera. In “Jersey Shore,” which takes place in the scruffy resort town of Seaside Heights, about a quarter of the way down New Jersey’s coastline, the explosions began even before the show premièred, in early December. Promos showing a group of young men and women of Italian heritage making entertainingly ridiculous statements about themselves and whooping it up on the boardwalk at night—dancing, throwing punches, that kind of thing—advertised “Jersey Shore” as set in a “house like you’ve never seen, full of the hottest, tannest, craziest Guidos,” and Italian-American groups, and eventually New Jersey tourism officials, protested and some of them called for MTV to cancel the series. Despite such dreamy free publicity, the first episode didn’t get good ratings. But a sneak preview that ran at the end of the episode showed one of the women in the house being punched by a drunken galoot at a bar, locking in more controversy and more viewers—fifty per cent more, in fact, for the second episode.

This is where I say, “MTV had a situation on its hands,” and people who have seen the show chuckle or groan, because they get the joke. One of the cast members, Mike, a voluble, occasionally charming Staten Islander (only one of the eight housemates is originally from New Jersey—go figure), is so proud of his gym-cut abdominals that he calls them The Situation. The nickname, he explained on the “Tonight Show,” came from an incident in a club when a couple walked by him and the woman was so captivated by his abs that she pointed at them. Mike’s friends said to him, “Dude, that’s a situation right there.” “And I said, ‘Yeah, I guess that is a situation,’ and it stuck.” We both do and don’t know what he means—I take it to mean that his abs have magnetic qualities and that his mere appearance in a room can have tectonic consequences. In fact, Mike has synecdochically enlarged that concept to denote his entire being: The Situation isn’t only what he calls his abs; it’s also his nickname for himself. “I just have unbelievable mass appeal,” he tells the camera in the second episode, though we’ve seen by then that his appeal is rather more of the niche kind.…...

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