Saturday, December 12, 2009

What is the limit on stretching "reality"?

I gave up on MTV a long time ago, after they stopped emphasizing the "M" (Music), in favor of a growing line of "reality" shows, the rationale being that "reality" shows are cheaper to produce, and, in MTV's case, easier to recoup production costs via multiple airings per week. It wouldn't be on the MTV family of networks if the channel didn't insist on shoving it down the throats of its viewers.

That brings us to the controversy surrounding MTV's latest series, Jersey Shore. On the surface, it's just another of MTV's cookie-cutter "reality" programs about 20-somethings. If you believe the negative press that has accompanied Shore since the pre-launch hype began, there's more to it. See, in the eyes of Italian-American focus groups, Shore represents a lot of negatives, chief among those the use of the prejorative, "guido". The cast of Shore doesn't see anything wrong with calling each other "guidos". To their generation, it's a compliment. I guess no one taught them the meaning behind "paisan", which is Italian for "friend". Two advertisers have already agreed to pull their advertising from Shore, bowing to pressure from the focus groups. That's nothing new. We see that all the time. Every time something remotely controversial is hyped, activist groups like the PTC jump on it, usually sight unseen, whining and complaining.

Naturally, the controversy has drawn the curious to the show, like moths to a flame. In the long term, however, Jersey Shore is just another disposable short-term series that will be replaced in about a year by something similar in format. That's just the way it is at MTV, and by this time next year, Shore will be a distant memory, a footnote in MTV's nearly 30-year history.

It kinda makes one long for the days when MTV's idea of non-music programming included reruns of Monty Python's Flying Circus or Saturday Night Live.

No comments: