With August right around the corner, the doldrums of summer are finally here, and that can only mean one thing: MTV's Jersey Shore is upon us. Despite claims Jersey Shore portrays Italian-Americans in a negative light, the show has increased in publicity and viewership. One such American upset with the show's success is the Governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie (R), who publicly bashed it to the media.
Christie complained the show takes non-natives of New Jersey -- mostly New Yorkers -- "[and] drops them at the Jersey Shore, and tries to make Americans feel like this is New Jersey. I could tell people, they want to know what New Jersey really is? I welcome them to come to New Jersey any time. The Jersey Shore is a beautiful place, and it's a place that everybody should come on vacation this summer." Christie concluded his blast of Jersey Shore with a final plea for tourists to visit his state, saying, "We've got another 6 weeks or so of summer left. Come to New Jersey!"
I can't blame Christie for his plea for outsiders to not base their opinions of New Jersey on the MTV show. Watching young, spoiled brats live in a nice place on the beach while being encouraged to act out as the cameras roll isn't a fair way to judge a place. Should New Jersey really be condemned because a young woman named "Snooki" was punched in the face by a man at a bar? No, sir. Jersey Shore doesn't represent the state of New Jersey because, in reality, New Jersey is far less classy than the television show. MTV had to bring in classless outsiders to improve the class of the Garden State.
As a baby I was flown to New Jersey with my family to visit a relative who had married a man from New Jersey. I wish I could recount the experience but my subconscious has apparently blocked all memories of the tragedy I experienced (and being Catholic, that should say something. I have plenty to repress). What I do know is this: I left New Jersey as an impressionable youth with the notion air quality is overrated and an unexplainable fear of any form of acting that includes Zach Braff.
I had another opportunity to experience New Jersey when my relative brought her New Jersey husband to come stay with us in Michigan when I was around six years old. Initially my experience with this New Jersey man was enjoyable. He was boisterous, he was playful, and he had no fear showcasing the excess hair he had all over his body. As the week wore on the charm wore off, and my youthful self began to figure out that perhaps whatever this New Jersey man was drinking in excess was truly responsible for his constant "playfulness." Jokingly playing with my sister's dolls was one thing, but staring at them longingly with lust in the eyes that would make my sister's Ken doll question his motives is crossing the line.
On more than a few occasions I found myself in our finished basement poking the passed out Garden State native with a stick I found from the yard, my childish voice managing to choke out, "Wake up, buddy. You don't have to go home but you can't stay here, and shave your back if you can't manage to keep your hair on your own body!" Some may say it's unfair of me to judge New Jersey, considering I'm from Michigan, a state whose infrastructure is literally crumbling. I disagree. I've been to Detroit, so I know ugly, and New Jersey is ugly.
Many years later I'd have the opportunity to see New Jersey again, this time at the tender age of twenty as a much more mature individual. I stood alongside the Philadelphia city limit with an ex-girlfriend and her family and rhetorically asked, "What's that horrible, industrialized pollution cloud across the Delaware River?"
"That would be New Jersey," my ex-girlfriend's father responded as we all looked on in horror. And though none of us believed the thought would ever cross our minds, we decided to retreat back inside the beautiful urban sprawl of Philadelphia to try and forget the horrors we had just witnessed within the Garden State.
When New Jersey Governor Chris Christie says Americans should visit New Jersey because it's nothing like the MTV show Jersey Shore, he's correct -- it isn't. But he's tricking Americans into seeing a place far worse than the show could ever portray.
Scott Janssen is a graduate student, blogger, and all-around drain on society. Follow him at his blog as www.pantslessponderings.com.