For two hours the other night, four heavily-tanned men hollered at morally questionable women, fought a man who dared look at them and spent plenty of quality time getting jacked. In the same time frame, four self-described “classy” women, also bronzed past the point of comfort, detailed their desire to hook up with guidos and called any girl who was not her a “slut” or a “whore.”
Strangely, I couldn’t change the channel, and I suspect that there is only one way to describe this phenomena: I was vibing.
Not familiar with that word? Don’t worry. No one is. At least, no one was.
MTV changed that.
Yes, on Thursday night MTV aired the first episode of the reality series, “Jersey Shore.” In short, this is a show about eight guidos, an obnoxious subculture of Italian-Americans, living together on the East Coast.
But that’s just a cosmetic description. For those of us in the Midwest, the show is eye-opening confirmation of what had been a mystery. We have finally discovered that there really are people who act like complete meatheads and are proud of it.
Others have been equally impressed. Notably, the Web site “Gawker,” has gone as far as to call “Jersey Shore” a reality TV show revolution.
And Gawker is correct.
Reality shows have long been artificial. Paris Hilton looking down on farmhands in Arkansas is not real. Living with 15 jerks and Elisabeth Hasselbeck on a deserted island and eating worms is not real.
Neither is vying for the love of a 50-year-old washed up rapper with gold teeth who can say his name in a mildly funny tone, or attending Tool Academy.*
*I just found out what this show was on Saturday. Later that day, I read a blog on Joe Posnanski’s Web site about Tiger Woods and in it, he mentions “Tool Academy” because apparently one of Woods’ alleged mistresses appeared on that show. He didn’t know what it was either. There are so many reality shows out there, and I bet most people couldn’t name half of them.
“Jersey Shore,” though, is real, more of a National Geographic special about the Galapagos Islands, than “Temptation Island.” Rather than put people in a fake, made-for-TV environment, MTV has filmed eight obnoxious people in their natural habitat, the Jersey Shore, or as the show’s creators cleverly wrote on a wall decoration in the house, “Nu Joisy.”
This is a true depiction of a culture where vibing is acceptable lingo for getting along well with someone or something, where men need 15 bottles of hair gel and an hour to prepare to “get after it,” and where a “situation” is not a state of affairs but rather an obnoxious man’s description of his abdomen muscles.
Indeed, Gawker’s blog about the show is not a story but a “field study.”
One thing missing from its study, though, is how truly captivating all this is to those of us who don’t live on the East Coast, among guidos.
Through the eyes of a Midwesterner, like video-taped activities of Amazonian tribes, the documentation of these people truly provides an educational experience, a lesson in the art of narcissism and abrasiveness.
Here in the Midwest, guidos were previously known almost entirely through the YouTube video “My New Haircut.”
This video features a young man who is sporting the same new greasy haircut all of his friends have. He is sitting at a bar ordering Jaeger bombs.
But before he does this, he talks of “stotting” fights. He calls the bartender “chief,” the same name that one of his friends uses for the desk worker at his apartment complex.
This friend, who has curly hair, is noticeably upset. There is, of course, a plausible reason. His mother has forgotten to restock his protein stash.
Without protein, he can’t grunt while “getting his swell on” at the gym so people can see how “jacked and tan” he is.
Without protein, he can’t join his friend at the bar, who by the end of the video, has yelled Jaeger bomb several times while wildly gesturing to no one in particular, before slamming his drink in one gulp.
People like this are rarely, if ever, seen in Midwest cities.
Instead, arrogance reaches its peak with the collar popper, a person so cool that his neck is adversely affected by cold climates causing him to fold up the uppermost part of his polo, and even that subset of jerk is quickly fading.
We hear about guidos from college friends who hail from New York, New Jersey, Boston or another East Coast city. We might even catch glimpses of them if we travel to those places, if we visit bars in those places.
But we really knew guidos only from “My New Haircut.”
It all seemed like a joke. People didn’t actually act like that. They couldn’t actually act like that.
But now we have “Jersey Shore.” Already, by watching only one program, I’ve learned so much.
Guidos are actually just the males. Girls are called guidettes. These women love guidos and as one expresses, her desire is to meet the ultimate guido one day and start a guido family.
The males and females share several characteristics. They love to spray chemicals in their hair for long periods of time. They often own personal tanning beds. They have nicknames, ranging from “The Situation,” to “Snookie” to “J-Woww.”
Despite these similarities, when placed in Seaside Heights, N.J., in a house that features a garage decorated with an Italian flag that has the outline of the state of New Jersey emblazoned in the middle, not surprisingly, the guidos and guidettes clash.
As one might predict, a disagreement breaks out because of “sluts.” The boys invite three of them into the hot tub, and the guidettes go crazy.
And it is all real. The fights, the people, ther personalities, everything except the steroid-produced muscles and surgery-enhanced physiques. THEY ARE REAL.
Mike, who goes by the name “The Situation” because he has the aforementioned abs, is not playing to the cameras when he convinces a girl shopping at the T-shirt store he works at to make pink shorts that read “We’ve Got a Situation” on the rear.
Other examples: Sammi, a guidette, spurns “The Situation,” even though she was clearly vibing with him and discussed with him this instance of vibing, stating solely that fellow housemate Donnie, a behemoth of a man with spiky hair, is hot.
Nicole aka Snookie really doesn’t know how to use a land-line telephone. Pauly D, at 29 years old, really does want to make out with two 20-year-old “sluts” at the same time and style his hair for 20 minutes every day.
These people aren’t provoked. This show is a medium for them to express their true desires and feelings, for them to demonstrate and educate to those of us who didn’t believe this type of behavior was possible, that they truly are attempting to reach hair-gelled, tanning-oil-soaked nirvana.
Of course, the depiction of the guidos and guidettes is causing a bit of controversy. Italian-Americans aren’t laughing so hard. Neither, I would suspect, is the state of New Jersey.
But my advice?
Just vibe with it.
My one regret after leaving America is that I cannot watch this show.