Jersey Shore S01E06: Human Nightmares After All

In all of the excitement over the Jersey Shore, with the late night talk shows, and the nickname generators, and the celebrity pizza parties, it can be hard to remember that the cast of Jersey Shore represents a lifestyle and a worldview that is not just GTL and blow outs. When you take off the Ed Hardy shirts and the sloop-necked mesh-dresses and get to the NAKED TRUTH about what is really going on, there is a core of misogyny and violence to these people and this show. I’m not complaining. Jersey Shore remains one of the most interesting shows on television, and it’s not like misogyny and violence were invented for Thursday night entertainment. But let’s keep our eyes open, sheeple. Just because a person is on TV and becomes a minor cultural phenomenon doesn’t make their casual and common use of phrases like “she was a zoo creature” and their hair-trigger willingness to sink their fist into another human being’s face (if it’s easier than ripping their hair from their skull) any less awful.

But so first let’s talk about Vinny.

When we left off last week, Vinny was making out with a “cougar” on a parked car. I suppose when you are 21 years old, the definition of “cougar” shifts, because this “cougar” seemed all of 29 years old, but fair enough. She could be someone’s grandmother, in the most depressing of possible scenarios. Anyway, it turned out that Courtney Cox had just been on a date with Vinny’s boss/landlord that very night! Now he is going to get evicted probably! We will have to wait and find out the next day at the T-shirt Store! (Never has a t-shirt store been such a scene for high drama.) Everyone at the t-shirt store is staring at Vinny and the Boss, wondering what is going to happen next. And then…BOOM! Nothing! The boss sort of ribs Vinny a little bit, and that’s the end of it. Because Vinny is a pretty nice guy, and almost entirely normal (RELATIVELY SPEAKING). Later, his family comes to visit and he eats some food. The end.

Now that we have covered Vinny, we can get to the NIGHTMARE MEAT.

Snooki gets punched in the face again. Like, almost right away. As you may recall, SHE JUST GOT PUNCHED IN THE FACE.

It turns out that girls don’t like being told to leave a house because they are hippos. Weird. Anyway, The Situation invited a girl over and she brought two “grenades.” Or I guess a grenade launcher and a grenade? I am not sure what the difference is between a grenade launcher and a grenade. I guess a grenade launcher is a delivery vehicle for a grenade? So a taxi? I’m confused. Anyhow, The Situation, being the competent, respectful, and mature man that he is, asks Snooki to kick the other two girls out so that he can focus on the friend that he actually does want to smoosh. Well played, The Situation. So Snooki tells the other two hippos to leave, but the friend is not going to stick around by herself, so they all leave, but not before starting a fight that quickly devolves into so much screaming of the word “bitch” and also so much being arrested for passing out drunk. Which is, incidentally, something that can be said for the cast of Jersey Shore in response to this post’s introductory paragraph: they are not tiny islands of bizarre motivations. They are citizens of a community that has its own rules.

Meanwhile, Sammi and Ronnie continue to date/bicker. So much bickering between these two. People magazine reports that they are still together, which is nice, but are they still bickering so much? Based on last night’s episode, I think the problem in their relationship seems to be the fact that Sammi is a self-absorbed but completely un-self-aware entitled monster.

She is constantly mad at Ronnie, and I am not saying that Ronnie is a perfect human being without his flaws, but at the very least he actually seems pretty caring towards and respectful of Sammi. Albeit sometimes playful:

But who doesn’t want a little playfulness in their relationship? Oh, right. Sammi doesn’t.

Probably one of the funniest moments of last night’s episodes was when Ronnie had a brief moment of being fed up with Sammi’s moody punishments, and went down to the kitchen to announce to the boys that he was “back.” And the instantly knew what he meant. And then they went to the club, because when you are back, you go to the club, ah-no-ah-duh. But then on the way to the club to be back, Ronnie was mostly just complaining about how much effort he was putting into his relationship with Sammi and how little he felt that he was getting in return, effort-wise, and Pauly D. did an interview where he said “Ronnie says that he’s back, but it’s pretty obvious that he’s not really back.” You guys know how it is when someone says they’re back but it’s like clearly they are not really back. You know.

All of which brings us to the next fight between Ronnie and some dude on the boardwalk and that dude’s girlfriend. Now, AGAIN, the guy was definitely baiting Ronnie. Which is weird. Because Ronnie is built like a tank. A tank made out of muscles. But my point is that while Ronnie and the rest of the cast’s behavior often looks garish and UNACCEPTABLE, there is a facet of the world that under a certain light makes them seem entirely within the bounds of normal human interaction. And it didn’t help that Sammi was lobbing some of the harshest disses ever.

“You’re like 30,” is the new “suck my dick.” And Sammi doesn’t repeat herself twice. But the guy was fighting right back.

Yikes! Ronnie tried to remain the bigger man. “I’m 24-years-old, I don’t need to fight some guy over a female.” Good point! Except that it turned out (very quickly) that in fact he did need to fight some guy over a female.

Oh boy. Nothing says “I have things under control and your accusation of domestic violence is an inflammatory misinterpretation of my genuine attempts to defuse the situation, sir,” like just straight trying to knee someone in the face and then mounting on top of them and pounding their teeth in. I’m not saying that Ronnie was right to shove Sammi, but he was trying to get her to stop feeding the guy’s fire, and it wasn’t really domestic abuse, not in a world where domestic abuse is a REAL thing that requires HOSPITALS and POLICE OFFICERS and LAWYERS and YEARS OF PTSD THERAPY. But I guess Ronnie sure did defend his honor. By whalloping a guy half his size. And then evading the police.

Again, I am not really complaining. The world created Jersey Shore, not the other way around. You can’t make a color that doesn’t exist, you know what I mean? But I do think that it is finally time (2010!) to at least wonder what the producers of reality TV tell themselves in moments like this. Because let us get so real right now: this is not a fucking documentary about the situation in Afghanistan. The already shaky and morally questionable rule about a documentarian not getting involved with his subject in order to capture the truth about what is happening DOES NOT APPLY HERE. We’re dealing with a group of professionals who have genuine power and control over the people they are filming who nevertheless allow and most likely encourage them to engage in horrific and despicable acts of violence and cruelty and then exploit those horrific and despicable acts for monetary gain. Good job, adults.

Actually, I take it back, there is one way in which last night’s episode was actually a bad thing for the world, and that was the way in which after caving in a dude’s face, Ronnie just walked home and made up with his girlfriend. We do, after all, live in a world with consequences, and you cannot go around the boardwalks of life knocking everyone’s blocks off without facing up to them. Even if Ronnie weren’t being FOLLOWED BY A CAMERA CREW, the police would still (somehow!) manage to find him, and he would be arrested. That is just a fact. So even if you were to set aside the moral dilemma of a group of producers exploiting violence for giggles, there is just the very real moral INSULT of creating a world without consequences in which the unhinged violent criminal is actually the hero. Fuck THAT.

But of course I cannot wait for next week’s funtimes episode! Atlantic City!