Shutter… the GS

The MTV reality show, The Jersey Shore, was viewed by many as an affront to Italian culture. They kids on the show advertise their Italian-ness in unflattering ways using unflattering terms. They like to eat lasagna, take steroids and be merry with one another… I’m not positive what Italian stereotype they pander to, but they have wild tempers and love to fight. No one wants their culture represented this way.

Members of the cast flaunt Italian flags on everything and scream about being Italian and how they are Guido’s and Guidette’s and blah blah blah… it is difficult to ignore the implied association between their proud Italian heritage and their behavior.

What is interesting is the way these individuals used the Italian flags everywhere and excessive references to Italian culture and upbringing to cloak the fact that they lack Italian heritage. Many of the cast-members are half Italian, and a few are not Italian at all.

It is highly unlikely that any self-respecting Italian American would flaunt symbols that evoke their heritage so flippantly. But the cast members on the Jersey Shore, for whatever reason, felt compelled to advertise it.

The more removed someone is from a particular culture or heritage the more they pride themselves in identifying with it, even if their identification is somehow inaccurate. I have another example, but it is so extreme it will seem made up.

When I first started working at my job, I was a temp, and next to me sat a certain fully employed paralegal. My cube-mate, Gerald, claimed to be Syrian. A Syrian political science major from California. With the last name Ellis. Odd, but whatever. I have never met anyone with less middle eastern blood than this kid. He was all California. He had no convictions, no passion, no knowledge of the Middle East that did not come directly from a textbook… (no offense to California..) (he was from Southern California…)

He would readily volunteer his ethnic background to anybody. If people asked him what his background was, he’d quickly respond, “I’m Syrian!” but the question was usually unprovoked. I went on a campaign to prove him wrong – the phony!! long story short, His great, great grandfather may have come from Syria, or Lebanon, but something about ELLIS Island where they changed his last name…

Every other member of his family was Mexican. Not once did I ever hear him refer to himself as Mexican. Why the hell not?!?! Who would choose to call themselves Syrian when it is totally unbelievable, and cannot be backed up at all- if they have an equally interesting cultural heritage to which they are actually connected?!

One comment

  1. I bet these kids claimed they were Italian simply to get on the MTV reality show. These kids are just so happy to get their 15 minutes that they are willing to say (and do) whatever the producers want them too. I’m sure these Jersey Shore characters weren’t chosen for their outstanding GPAs…