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The 'G' Word.
January 3, 2010 3:53 PM   Subscribe

MTV's Jersey Shore, a Real World-style reality program centered around eight young Italian-Americans living together in a beach house, is garnering charges of racism following their use of the allegedly pejorative terms guido and the feminine counterpart guidette in advertisements. But what exactly is a guido?

The most popular definition on urbandictionary.com lists the Italian-American ancestry of a guido as "likely" but focuses more on the supposed fashion (blowback hairstyle, tan jobs) and personality deficiencies (loud, obnoxious, self-centered) of the subculture. Andrew DiMino, president of Italian-American community group Unico International claims that the word is very derogatory towards Italian Americans, and further claims that MTV promotes the stereotype of the guido within the reality show, saying that, "You would not believe how much anger there is about this... Normally, the negative stereotypes exist in fiction. (In Jersey Shore), they're being presented as reality."

Sociology professor Donald Tricaro takes a more Marxian approach, claiming "(Guidism) is a cultural movement, but it's about consumption, not ethnicity."

FWIW, cast member Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino is a-ok with the term.
posted by joechip (232 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
If "Jersey Shore" is really being "presented as reality," I suppose then so are "Keeping up with the Kardashians," "Jon & Kate Plus 8," "The Real Housewives of New Jersey," etc., etc., etc.
posted by blucevalo at 3:57 PM on January 3, 2010


I predict Metafilter will not be in favor of the use of the word Guido.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:58 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I got ya dialectical materialism right here.
posted by Avenger at 4:01 PM on January 3, 2010 [33 favorites]


Oddly, this just sort of came up. But I'm a WASPy mutt, so I really don't much care.

I *did* read "Tricaro takes a more Mexican approach", though, which really threw me for a loop at first.
posted by Ufez Jones at 4:02 PM on January 3, 2010


Remember, United States: classism is OK. Racism and ethnic discrimination are wrong, but it's fine to mock people of different social class. (Also, People of Walmart is still hysterical.)
posted by Nelson at 4:02 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Also addressed (by "Snookie") on the Wendy Williams Show, and while we're at it, SNL.
posted by hermitosis at 4:04 PM on January 3, 2010


So perhaps they should call them douchebags and douchebaggettes?
posted by birdherder at 4:06 PM on January 3, 2010 [11 favorites]


Oddly, this just sort of came up.

And to repost my post in that thread...

Italian Americans and the G Word: Embrace or Reject?
Certain words cannot be said out loud without setting off a series of complicated psycho-cultural explosions: the N word among African-Americans, the F word among gays; the C word among Chinese-Americans. Italian-Americans have a similar relationship with a two-syllable word beginning with G that is actually a man's name. And their feelings burst out loud when MTV began promoting its new reality show Jersey Shore, which an off-camera announcer declared would feature the "hottest, tannest craziest Guidos" in New Jersey's beachside communities. Wait, did MTV really just say "Guido" on the air?

Most people on the east coast easily recognize the word as a slur against Italian-American men of a certain class and swagger — and there was MTV just letting it rip. As the ramp up to the show continued, Italian-American anti-defamation groups started their drumbeat and the commercial was tweaked ever so slightly: the word "Guido" was replaced with "roommates" — which is more generally the premised cast of the reality show. But that was not the last we heard of Guido, well, because it's all over the show. Indeed, in the first episode of Jersey Shore, the eight housemates wear the Guido and Guidette badge proudly.
posted by ericb at 4:06 PM on January 3, 2010


Guido is not a race, it is a state of mind.
posted by Gungho at 4:07 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


I predict Metafilter will not be in favor of the use of the word Guido.

I'm in favor of anything that gets stupid television shows off the air.
posted by DU at 4:08 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Old news, this was covered by Engadget two weeks ago.
posted by b.an.dekker at 4:09 PM on January 3, 2010


blucevalo: ""Keeping up with the Kardashians" "

I'm always disappointed this show isn't about Star Trek.
posted by boo_radley at 4:17 PM on January 3, 2010 [79 favorites]


I can't claim to speak for anybody, or even that my use of the word is okay.

But as an italian american who has spent much of his life trying to live as someone who is not identified as "italian" in the sopranos/godfather stereotype, I use the term often to describe precisely the kind of person this show centers around. In other words, I use it derogatorily. I can completely understand anyone thinking of the term as derogatory.

On the other hand, I consider people who conform to those stereotypes as derogatory toward italians. As someone who occasionally has to live with someone thinking I need to act like Tony Soprano to be italian, I consider people who behave in that fashion to be derogatory toward the heritage of italians who prefer to think of themselves as the inheritors of Dante's legacy, or DaVinci's, or fucking ANYBODY except these shallow assholes.

the truth is that it's a difficult sentiment to live with, or explain to anybody else. I cannot justify it as somehow logically consistent, or even reasonable. It's a gut feeling, a way to despise someone that I can't totally vocalize. Like watching people who think being italian is derived from movies, except THEY ARE ITALIAN, and they think you're weird for not beling like they are. Like how the radical right is proud in their ignorance, so are these folks. They seem to believe they're on the forefront of some kind of modern human perfection centered around fake tans and creatine. There's a level of frustration present in trying to live in a world that perceives these people as what it means to be "italian" that simply can't be vocalized.

I don't know if the show should be on or off the air. I just know I need, entirely for my own reasons and representative of no one else, to say out loud how much I reject their culture and everything they stand for. I hope this comes across, and doesn't simply seem like mindless vitriol.
posted by shmegegge at 4:17 PM on January 3, 2010 [32 favorites]


I have a friend who's first name is Guido (pronounced without the "wh-"sound). He is a non-guido Guido.
posted by yeti at 4:22 PM on January 3, 2010


The movie Nine really, really sucks. Just wanted to throw that in there.
posted by Artw at 4:22 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Also, I love this someecard about this show.
posted by yeti at 4:24 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why is everyone suddenly talking about this show and how can I make them stop?
posted by The Whelk at 4:26 PM on January 3, 2010 [16 favorites]


These people on Jersey Shore self-identify as guidos, and I'm fairly certain Metafilter is in favor of respecting people's own choices about what they wish to be called.

Guido has an obvious an ethnic history, but presently it seems to be a name for a particular lifestyle subculture, much like the term Juggalo.
posted by mpbx at 4:27 PM on January 3, 2010


This Italian-American enthusiastically approves of the use of the word guido for those douchebags. Let's not add another dysphemism to the treadmill.
posted by deadmessenger at 4:31 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Seriously, The Whelk. I saw the bit on SNL a few weeks ago and figured I'd let this cultural milestone pass me. Now I can't escape it.
posted by frecklefaerie at 4:36 PM on January 3, 2010


Nuke MTV from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:37 PM on January 3, 2010 [9 favorites]


For everyone hating on MTV for Jersey Shore, I'd suggest they check out 16 and Pregnant and its sequel series Teen Mom, which are some of the best documentary programming you'll see anywhere.
posted by mpbx at 4:41 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


this is a guido.
posted by vronsky at 4:42 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


What Artw said.
posted by avocet at 4:42 PM on January 3, 2010


"You would not believe how much anger there is about this... Normally, the negative stereotypes exist in fiction. (In Jersey Shore), they're being presented as reality."

I think saying these stereotypes only exist in fiction is a bit off base. It's just that TV is capitalizing on the novelty of this form of trashy/low-brow behaviour that's new to people in other parts of the country. And the cycle perpetuates itself, sort of like the glamorization of thug/'hood culture among blacks/African-Americans. TV pays attention to your "culture" when you act like the loudest, most disgusting and obnoxious caricatures of yourself, and then in return, to keep the focus and spotlight on you and your class/ethnic group, kids start miming whatever is popular -- be it acting like a hood rat, wanna-be-mafiosa, or a classic guido-douchebag, or whatever.
posted by NikitaNikita at 4:45 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


On the SAT I recently saw:

Guido : Italian :: ? : African-Amercan

Man, I don't think I answered that one right.
posted by GuyZero at 4:46 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


So perhaps they should call them douchebags and douchebaggettes?

'Scuze me for interjecting here, but the proper spelling is undoubtedly douchebaguettes.
posted by flug at 4:50 PM on January 3, 2010 [15 favorites]


I should also add that what IS especially annoying to me (probably because I'm Italian, and, uh, grew up around these people in NJ) is that any focus on this being an Italian-only thing is wrong, since the "culture" expands to other ethnicities as well. Again, similar to the whole gangsta/thug thing.
posted by NikitaNikita at 4:52 PM on January 3, 2010


I had a buddy in college, a guy from bensonhurst named Pete, who self-identified as a guido (although in NYC the usual term is 'cugine'). A few years later I found out that he sold Amy Fisher the gun she shot mary Jo with.
posted by jonmc at 4:53 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


On the SAT I recently saw:

Guido : Italian :: ? : African-Amercan

Man, I don't think I answered that one right.


Yeah, they never reference "The Riddler" on SATs.
posted by chambers at 4:54 PM on January 3, 2010


Wait, shmegegge is Italian?

This place makes me meshuganah.
posted by fourcheesemac at 4:54 PM on January 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


People are entitled to call themselves whatever they want to.

In general, I've had enough of mockery, though. I'm sick to fucking death of it. And this seems especially pernicious -- hey! Let's mock young Italian Americans from Jersey, using a phrase that specifically references their ethnic heritage! Fucking Guidos, fucking hilarious, look how trashy they are, har har har har har i'm a fucking bully.

The moneyed businessmen in downtown Minneapolis that I see every day are every bit as ridiculous and obnoxious. I'll turn blue and die from holding my breath before I see a show about them.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:55 PM on January 3, 2010 [11 favorites]


I just called my son and asked him about this show in general and this thread specifically.

Note: I am Italian American and my son is as well. My son lives with his mother in Staten Island. We are divorced. His name is Vincent. He's 27 years old.

He considers "guido" the same as the n-word. It's a pejorative that isn't used. Period.

I had two uncles, long dead, that might think that the the use of their name as a negative for Italian was uncalled for.

My cousin who is a retired police Captain agrees. Guido, used in the way described above, is not acceptable.

As far as the people in the show, both my son and cousin think they are hilarious. But again, they don't think that the term guido is acceptable.

There are no African Americans named nigger that I have ever heard of. But there are plenty of Guidos. How would you like your name co-opted as a racial slur?

And that is what it is. Regardless of what you may handwave. It's a fucking slur.
posted by Splunge at 4:56 PM on January 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I never heard the term guido in Ohio, Italians just call each other degos.
posted by greatalleycat at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I like this show because it was culled from Spike Lee's nightmares.
posted by kid ichorous at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2010 [15 favorites]


As someone who occasionally has to live with someone thinking I need to act like Tony Soprano to be italian, I consider people who behave in that fashion to be derogatory toward the heritage of italians who prefer to think of themselves as the inheritors of Dante's legacy, or DaVinci's, or fucking ANYBODY except these shallow assholes.

I understand why you're frustrated with the way people project their stereotypes onto you personally, shmegegge, but your attitude towards the problem rests on the same racialist framework that supports those stereotypes in the first place. To be honest, your connection to Dante or da Vinci is probably tenuous at best, and even if it weren't, how do you draw the lines that save you from being the inheritor of, say, Pope Paul IV's legacy? Or Mussolini's?

Heritage as you implicitly define it seems like a dangerous reification, especially when you start using it to condemn certain lifestyles. If you're angry that people tend to associate you with another group based on your ethnicity, blame the people doing the associating based on simplistic stereotypes. It's anywhere from hard to impossible to issue blanket condemnations of a group of people without miring yourself in hypocrisy, so why not just avoid it? It's probably better for your blood pressure, anyway.
posted by invitapriore at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


What was the "correct" answer?
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2010


if it weren't for g**dos we wouldn't have Bobby Bottleservice, so, god willing, ya know?
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:57 PM on January 3, 2010


GuyZero: so you picked "Kwame" or whatever traditional first name made the multiple choice list, right?
posted by NikitaNikita at 4:58 PM on January 3, 2010


it's spelled 'dago,' genius. And we call eachother 'guineas' up here.
/half first-generation Italian-American
posted by jonmc at 4:58 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It is really interesting to me how much of cultural phenomenon this show is. I haven't watched it, but people are going crazy over it. I initially could tell, because as mentioned above, there were someecards devoted to it.

What is the draw? Why is this show so talked about?
posted by hazyspring at 5:00 PM on January 3, 2010


I didn't realize the dago spelling police was out jonmc! Go make me some pasta with that homemade sauce!
posted by greatalleycat at 5:03 PM on January 3, 2010


moneyed businessmen

We prefer Wealthy-Americans. Thanks.
posted by mullacc at 5:04 PM on January 3, 2010 [17 favorites]


Be nice or I'll call my relatives and have you whacked.
posted by jonmc at 5:04 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


but the proper spelling is undoubtedly douchebaguettes.

I don't think French bread was invented for that purpose.
posted by bwg at 5:04 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Italian-American. My grandfather hated the term. My mother embraced it (along with other slurs for Italians) because she used to get a lot of flack from the Irish Catholics at her Catholic high school. They way she explained it she could have been offended by it or she could make it her own and laugh it off.
posted by Loto at 5:05 PM on January 3, 2010


Equal Rights for Orange People!
posted by five fresh fish at 5:05 PM on January 3, 2010


Mike "The Situationist" Sorrentino, on living the guido lifestyle: "It’s just a bunch of kids that happen to be partying and working and living together in New Jersey. Some of these people are trying to pretend like when you’re in your 20s and you’re single you don’t go out and have fun. Or you don’t go out and get a couple drinks. And when that happens you know there are gonna be a couple arguments. There are gonna be a couple fights. Life is not perfect."

I have nothing but respect for these noble warriors. Stoically going into battle every time they step into a neighborhood club. Truly, the Way of the Guido is fraught with peril. The rest of us would be wise to study the wisdom of this clan, the surprising nonchalance. Life is not perfect. Remarkable! Even now their numbers are dwindling, their secret rituals crassly exposed by this Music Television. Take heed, uphold their virtues, learn their customs. Maybe one day, somehow, we can band together and repopulate New Jersey, turn it back to a golden gleaming land of richly gelled hair, artificial suntans. The universe will cry out in splendour, the air will be filled with a thick cloud of Aqua Di Gio. Until that happens, we must remain ever vigilant.

Yours in good stead,
naju
posted by naju at 5:08 PM on January 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


Well it's nice to know that casual racism is alive and well on MeFi. Yall go.
posted by Splunge at 5:08 PM on January 3, 2010


As a person living in NJ, I always took it to be something of a lifestyle choice (fake tan, muscles built for showing off rather than actual strength, big on "seducing" women) rather than an ethnic slur, even though it essentially means "Italian Son," if I remember the etymology correctly. They're not all Italian, and it probably just arose as many people in the region are Italian and proud of their heritage.

It's not a very nice thing to say, but it's not really racist or anti-ethnic in my opinion. I'm not sure if there's really a better term to describe the stereotypical Jersey Shore character, though. Perhaps we'd be better off ditching the stereotype in the first place, but that makes it hard to make broad, easy jokes.

It's kind of like redneck jokes, but without the classism that makes laughing at "rednecks" so blatantly problematic for people who don't consider themselves rednecks. I don't think it's classist, as it's generally centered on white, middle-to-upper class young people. In other words, people who have plenty of opportunities to choose who they want to be. They think it's cool to act the way they act. They're not that way because they're poor or because they had a bad education, so it's not like we're laughing at their misfortune.

However, I still think it's a bad type of joke in general. It's grouping together people and making a negative connotation. While I may not see the merit in getting water wing-like bicepts, a spray-tan, and spikey hair, that alone would not make a person a jerk. Guido jokes make all of these people out to be arrogent, histrionic assholes, which is an insult to any kind person who otherwise embodies the stereotype.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:09 PM on January 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


These MTV guidos are just promoting a negative Italian-American stereotype. These people could be pizza men, or organ grinders, or...leaning tower makers...or...did I say pizza men?
posted by breezeway at 5:12 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's talked about because the people doing the marketing are very, very good. Feel free to ignore it. It's not important just because a lot of people are talking about it. See: Tiger Woods' dick.
posted by kathrineg at 5:13 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


My high school had 2,000 kids in it, half of which had Italian ancestry.

We called them Wops. We called the Portuguese "Pork-n-Cheese", the French "Frogs", the stoners "Heads", and the Vietnamese "Honour Students" (because they were: they stayed in the basement and studied non-stop).

The funny thing is, even the Italian kids called themselves Wops; in fact they were almost proud of it.

No one took it seriously.
posted by bwg at 5:14 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


To be honest, your connection to Dante or da Vinci is probably tenuous at best, and even if it weren't, how do you draw the lines that save you from being the inheritor of, say, Pope Paul IV's legacy? Or Mussolini's?

I don't think shmegegge means to suggest that one should emulate any particular Italian in pursuit of an Italian identity, but rather that the set of people who identify as Italian is a huge and diverse one and to attempt to confirm to one specific identity, as the people on Jersey Shore do, both acknowledges and perpetuates negative stereotypes. One could argue their identities are no less valid, but I would disagree - these people are going out of their way to do their very best to conform and perform.
posted by mek at 5:15 PM on January 3, 2010


What is the draw? Why is this show so talked about?

Basically its a bunch of guys and girls from the east coast (of indistinct, orange ethnicity) who never matured past high school who arent very educated getting wasted in a very insular, xenophobic, and surface-worshiping environment. It's unfortunately hilarious and terrifying because of the utter lack of insight of all the characters leading to things like: a very trashy girl saying "I DONT HAVE TIME FOR BIMBOS" and, a guy proclaiming his desire to be the HOTTEST GUIDO ON THE BEACH all with a straight face. Enjoyment of the show is 1/2 picked-on bourgeois shadenfreude ('these jocks and cheerleaders who were socially superior to me as teenagers have meaningless lives and everyone is laughing at them') and half longing for the hedonistic freedom of being totally invested in looking hawt and binge-drinking ('i would love to escape nuance and anxiety and spend all my time tanning and hooking up with golden muscle-bound sex-monsters).

Also them talk funny.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:16 PM on January 3, 2010 [25 favorites]


Here's Bobby Bottleservice weighing in on the subject. (100LOLS)
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:17 PM on January 3, 2010


Gods, like we needed one more thing to get offended over.
posted by Pragmatica at 5:24 PM on January 3, 2010


This plate of beans seems classist! Beans are traditionally loved by poor people for their high nutrition and low cost, and the plate has a clown printed on it! Clearly the chef thinks that the poor are clowns! I'M CALLING THE ACLU!
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:28 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


There's a draw because the show is absolutely ridiculous. The cast of characters all act like they're fifteen years old—and not a particularly mature fifteen years, either. It's like staring at a train wreck. Or a drunken woman attempting to teeter down the sleazeside boardwalk on way-too-tall heels. Or a bunch of meshshorts-clad bros bumping chests about to throw down and shit.
posted by defenestration at 5:30 PM on January 3, 2010


I'll say one thing about Guidos (and really, it's not just Italians, at least in DC -- that particular high spending/boozing/vip table/clubbing life style crosses ethnic boundaries) -- if it weren't for them, a lot of local clubs would have to raise ticket prices to book all the headliner DJs they bring in from Europe/NY/LA/Miami/etc. These guys drop $200 a piece to book a vip table, whereas most people going to the same club are paying $10 or less.
posted by empath at 5:30 PM on January 3, 2010


Or what Potomac Avenue said.
posted by defenestration at 5:31 PM on January 3, 2010


empath i'm sorry i think you've confused them with Eurotrash.
there are zero g**d*s in DC.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 5:33 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


What is the draw? Why is this show so talked about?

As with most things pop culture, I like to turn to fourfour for greater understanding and hilarious screencaps. Here's his series on the lessons of the Jersey Shore: 1, 2, 3.

(Also, according to Rich, it is douchebaguettes, but only if you're French and/or cultured.)
posted by KatlaDragon at 5:34 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Orange is not a race.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:35 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Right, and there are no homosexuals in Iran. Maybe they'd come out and be more proud if you weren't so g***d*phobic.

If Carl Jung were here, he'd say that there's a g***d* in all of us.

Tonight, we are all g***d*s.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:36 PM on January 3, 2010


In most of canada guido (of the modern variety) = gino. guidettes = gina. Much easier to say.
posted by captaincrouton at 5:40 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think shmegegge means to suggest that one should emulate any particular Italian in pursuit of an Italian identity, but rather that the set of people who identify as Italian is a huge and diverse one and to attempt to confirm to one specific identity, as the people on Jersey Shore do, both acknowledges and perpetuates negative stereotypes. One could argue their identities are no less valid, but I would disagree - these people are going out of their way to do their very best to conform and perform.

My reading of his comment is neither the one you attribute to me or the one you yourself hold. He plainly identifies da Vinci and Dante, which is dubious considering that shmegegge shares little with them beyond the appellation of "Italian." To then go on and condemn these people for identifying with other popular figures that share the ethnic designation of Italian, regardless of their alleged conformity to ethnic stereotypes, is to criticize them for behavior that shmegegge is engaging in himself.

You too are creating fictional constructs and then denigrating those, all the while believing that your criticism reflects on real people. That "one specific identity" that you posit doesn't exist except in your imagination, a hazy marshland in which a lack of any real data allows you to believe that such a thing can even exist and that the differences between people who share a certain identity can be safely ignored.

I don't even want to get into the glass house scenario that is calling a group of people "conformist." It's not that conformity doesn't exist or is a negligible quality, but there's a difference between the sort of conformity that results in war crimes and that sort that results in the wide adoption of certain fashion trends. It's hard to see what basis there is for getting upset about the latter.
posted by invitapriore at 5:41 PM on January 3, 2010


They call themselves guidos and guidettes, but that has rarely been an effective argument for using a racial slur. I've always found that this word sufficed.
posted by bpm140 at 5:42 PM on January 3, 2010


identifies with da Vinci and Dante*
posted by invitapriore at 5:42 PM on January 3, 2010


I haven't seen the show, and I'm certainly not defending the term, but I'm Italian-American and grew up in New Jersey, and during my teen years, at least (early 80s), Guido was just a term that we used matter-of-factly to describe a swaggering, Saturday Night Fever type of character. That type of person was certainly small but recognizable subset of Italian-Americans in my neighborhood. I never heard the term used in a particularly derogatory manner (although, obviously, it wasn't a compliment, either)--certainly nothing on a par with the N-word. Maybe the connotation has changed since then, I don't know.
posted by HotToddy at 5:44 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Even the President is making jokes against Orange-Americans. That said, the guy was asking for it. I mean, calling yourself Boner? He's made The Situation look subtle.

People are bound to crack a few jokes.
posted by mccarty.tim at 5:45 PM on January 3, 2010


The feminine version of "Guido" is "GUIDA."

In Canada- well, Toronto- one speaks of "Ginos" and "Ginas."
posted by ethnomethodologist at 5:47 PM on January 3, 2010


What is the draw? Why is this show so talked about?

Highlights of "The Situation".
posted by smackfu at 5:53 PM on January 3, 2010


I'm of Italian heritage and I don't particuarly care one way or the other about the term. I don't think you can really class it with other racial slurs.

I do get tired of people asking me if I know people in the mob.
posted by codacorolla at 5:54 PM on January 3, 2010


Say what you want about the show, but I'd take the self-professed guidos and guidettes over those spoiled rich kids from The Hills anyday.
posted by emd3737 at 6:01 PM on January 3, 2010


My group of friends and I call them OompaLoompas...

[NOT-OOMPALOOMPA-IST!]
posted by schyler523 at 6:03 PM on January 3, 2010


I still have no idea why people who have not lived in Italy, Germany, Ireland or wherever, perhaps even for generations, call themselves Italian or German or Irish or whatever. It's not like they are real ethnicities either, they are just countries and the idea of identifying as an Ethnic German or Ethnic Swede seems pretty dated. Over here in the precious Old World that stuff tends to lead only to xenophobia and semi fascist populism.
posted by mr.marx at 6:04 PM on January 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


Forgot to mention that my fiancee is Italian and she uses guido more than most people I know...
posted by schyler523 at 6:04 PM on January 3, 2010


I feel like a idiot now.

I grew up outside of Philly, and my mother's family is working-class Italian. And I always thought "guido" was just a word for, well, a [i]kind[/i] of working-class Italian: the loud, unsophisticated ones with the thicker accents and flashy fashion sense. I never minded guidos or thought of them as douchebags -- they could seem obnoxious, but so could most people from that area.

I somehow never knew the word was used as derogatory and I hope I haven't made an ass of myself in the past by saying it. I always affectionately thought of my macho, gold-chain-wearing nephews and cousins as guidos, but now I know that word is used by the snooty people who smirk at them. I won't use the word anymore.
posted by Toothless Willy at 6:10 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I went to high school on the Jersey shore in the late 80s and the term "guido" was routinely used to describe guys as described above: young, confident, tan, ultra-social, liked girls, liked to have a good time, very rooted in the community. Being Italian was kind of optional as far as I could tell.

In 1989 they tended to wear jewel ton suits consisting of Hammer pants and cropped jackets with contrasting brightly colored shirts. To sophomore english class. I haven't seen this Jersey Shore show but I doubt it has anything that awesome.
posted by fshgrl at 6:12 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


>... during my teen years, at least (early 80s), Guido was just a term that we used matter-of-factly to describe a swaggering, Saturday Night Fever type of character. That type of person was certainly small but recognizable subset of Italian-Americans in my neighborhood

Exactly my experience. It's kind of like JAP in that way...
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:16 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


I don't think it's classist, as it's generally centered on white, middle-to-upper class young people.

I haven't seen the show, but that wasn't my impression of its subjects or of the "guido" stereotype at all - I had thought that it was more of either a working class thing or a nouveau riche one. I know you are somewhat drawing on your own personal experiences here and I don't want to argue with that, but I grew up with plenty of upper-middle class kids who pretended to be thugs or rednecks and blew tons of opportunities that the "real" ones would never have dreamed of.
posted by naoko at 6:18 PM on January 3, 2010


If these guys lived in Oklahoma and showed up at Sam's Club for a Sarah Palin book signing, would it still be OK to call them mouth-breathers, or knuckle-draggers? Or is that out, too?
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:21 PM on January 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


I still have no idea why people who have not lived in Italy, Germany, Ireland or wherever, perhaps even for generations, call themselves Italian or German or Irish or whatever.

I call myself Irish-American, and if you think Irish-American, or German-Americans, or Italian-Americans don't have a specific history in this country, and come from a specific heritage and a specific history in this country, then you may not understand that the melting pot melts nothing at all, but instead just sort of jumbles things together.
posted by Astro Zombie at 6:22 PM on January 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


In general, I've had enough of mockery, though. I'm sick to fucking death of it. And this seems especially pernicious -- hey! Let's mock young Italian Americans from Jersey, using a phrase that specifically references their ethnic heritage! Fucking Guidos, fucking hilarious, look how trashy they are, har har har har har i'm a fucking bully.

Okay, so it's confession time. I've seen every episode of Jersey Shore that's aired so far. A couple of them I've seen multiple times. There is absolutely an element of mockery involved in it, but if the only thing the showed provided was mockery there'd be no point, it would get old. In fact, you could pretty much turn Jersey Shore off after Angelina says "This job is beneath me. I'm a bartender, I do great things." The show is worth watching because, for all the mockable things they do, they do some things that are worthwhile, or at least interesting.

Case in point: There's a big deal in one episode where Snookie gets punched in the face by a guy at a bar. The confrontation itself is kind of dull, and MTV edited out the actual punch because of complaints from domestic violence groups, but the fallout from it was actually pretty interesting. All the guys (guidos?) have a lot of self worth invested in their machismo, especially as it relates to defending women. Watching them deal with the fact that a woman who is close to them got punched and they couldn't do anything to the guy who did it was pretty interesting.

It's not Hamlet and there's certainly an element of gawking to it, but it's not as mean spirited as you're describing it. Except on a personal level for Angelina, but that's just because she deserves it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:25 PM on January 3, 2010


Splunge:
He considers "guido" the same as the n-word. It's a pejorative that isn't used. Period.


It is a word rooted in the hundreds of years during which the entire world treated Italians as non-people, specifically as a label to mark them as such.

Yep, sounds about right.

I hate it when people compare a word they don't like hearing to a word used to literally dehumanize an entire continent and turn them from people into livestock.
posted by paisley henosis at 6:26 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


The situation on CNN
posted by delmoi at 6:29 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Metafilter: I haven't seen the show, but...
posted by mpbx at 6:30 PM on January 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


I like to turn to fourfour for greater understanding and hilarious screencaps.

Yes, it was Rich at fourfour who teased out why this show is wonderful:

And to that point (and I knew this all along, but my brain finally verbalized it): this show is a joyful celebration of life. Period. Whether at cooling at the shore, lording over Poughkeepsie or hilariously claiming Hollywood, these people are having the best time ever. They always win.

When I first heard about this show, I had the same reaction as most of the other folks on this thread: oh, this is going to be another laugh-at-ignorant-people-with-daddy-issues-with-a-side-order-of-class-mockery show. But seriously, the show is gripping because of how fully these kids embrace their Jersey Shore life.
posted by lunasol at 6:32 PM on January 3, 2010


Yeah, I recall that during the 90s in Toronto the "natural" enemy of rave kiddies were "gino"/"gina" clubbers—the irony being that many rave kids themselves were of Italian descent and this much-despised category often included folks of Lebanese, Greek, Persian, Pakistani, Arab, etc… descent (i.e., just swarthy enough to count, apparently). From an anthropological standpoint, it was an interesting situation where subcultural and ethnic labels were conflated and thus lost some specificity—and yet the pejorative stereotypes were still implied.

Once raves were economically squeezed out / commercialized by the city, the whole clubber/raver distinction kinda collapsed and got messy. Was "Industry" (peace be upon its filthy, filthy memory) for example, a raver club or a "gino" club?

Ah, Toronto.
posted by LMGM at 6:32 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


mr.marx: "I still have no idea why people who have not lived in Italy, Germany, Ireland or wherever, perhaps even for generations, call themselves Italian or German or Irish or whatever. It's not like they are real ethnicities either, they are just countries and the idea of identifying as an Ethnic German or Ethnic Swede seems pretty dated."

You are not likely to get posole at my in-laws' house on Christmas Eve! Nor was my Irish Gramma Brida going to bust out the Beef Wellington any time soon.

I'm kinda lol'ing at your vision of a post-ethnic Europe, by the way, as though one couldn't tell the difference between someone from Stockholm and someone from Munich.
posted by kathrineg at 6:36 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Here's 'Snooki' from the show explaining what they mean when they say Guido. According to her it's people who "look good and take care of themselves"
posted by delmoi at 6:39 PM on January 3, 2010


No: "da Vinci and Dante"
Yes: "Leonardo and Dante".
Please don't acquire your cultural references from Dan Brown and Oprah, m'kay?
posted by signal at 6:41 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Please don't be such a hater, m'kay?
posted by kathrineg at 6:42 PM on January 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


No: "da Vinci and Dante"
Yes: "Leonardo and Dante".
Please don't acquire your cultural references from Dan Brown and Oprah, m'kay?


Why on earth not? We all knew exactly what it meant, as did you.
posted by Bookhouse at 6:49 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Maybe he meant Leonardo the Ninja Turtle
posted by mpbx at 6:52 PM on January 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


There goes signal, just adding noise.
posted by defenestration at 6:53 PM on January 3, 2010 [12 favorites]


No: "da Vinci and Dante"
Yes: "
Leonardo and Dante".
Please don't acquire your cultural references from Dan Brown and Oprah, m'kay?


Sorry, but we're not talking in professional terms and so I'm in no way bound to calling him Leonardo or Leonardo di ser Piero out of respect to the historical inaccuracy of treating "da Vinci" as a surname. It's effectively become one. It'd be great if you could contribute instead of just being a snob.
posted by invitapriore at 6:53 PM on January 3, 2010 [14 favorites]


Bookhouse, there are last names, and then there are phrases used to identify a person. They are not interchangeable.

We're calling Leonardo by his hometown. It'd be like saying Mme. of Arc or Mr. of Arabia. Acting like da Vinci is a surname will just muddle things even more.

That said, it's a small thing. But I like to practice Broken Window Theory in language. You stop small infractions to prevent people from sounding like the kids on Jersey Shore.
posted by mccarty.tim at 6:55 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I never thought of Gino/Gina being derogatory, but I only heard it used by second generation Italians in my Catholic secondary school. Guido seems a more loaded term to me (and the Italians I met in New Jersey were definitely different to my friends in Canada). Plus Gino immediately makes me think of Gino Vanelli's hair. Cake eaters always made me laugh though.
posted by saucysault at 6:56 PM on January 3, 2010


Acting like da Vinci is a surname will just muddle things even more.

I am crying a million tears.

In an attempt to rerail, what's so wrong about sounding like the kids on Jersey Shore? What about them, specifically, is to be avoided?
posted by kathrineg at 6:59 PM on January 3, 2010


We're calling Leonardo by his hometown. It'd be like saying Mme. of Arc or Mr. of Arabia. Acting like da Vinci is a surname will just muddle things even more.

I'm perfectly aware of where it came from. Doesn't change anything. Why, by the way, would it be so bad if we referred to T.E. Lawerence as "Of Arabia" for short? What windows broken, what clarity lost?
posted by Bookhouse at 6:59 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


[lyrical] I'm not guido and you're not guido, but he is guido and plasticine to boot…[/]

Except that instead of green clay, it'd be orange.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:01 PM on January 3, 2010


It's not that conformity doesn't exist or is a negligible quality, but there's a difference between the sort of conformity that results in war crimes and that sort that results in the wide adoption of certain fashion trends. It's hard to see what basis there is for getting upset about the latter.

To each their own I suppose, but in my opinion if your carefully-groomed "guido" social identity has landed you a spot on Jersey Shore you are probably engaging in a destructive type of conformity. I formed that opinion after having watched the show.
posted by mek at 7:02 PM on January 3, 2010


I think these kids, and apparently 40 year olds in The Situation's case, need to buckle down and spend a few years working in Mr. Wonka's factory with their relations to learn the value of honest labor and craftsmanship.

oompa loompa doomp a dee do
I've got a perfect puzzle for you.
oompa loompa doomp a dee dee
if you are orange you'll listen to me
what do you get when you guzzle down drinks?
drinking as much as a Irishman drinks?
what are you at getting terribly juiced?
what do you think will come of that?
I don't like the look of it.
oompa loompa doomp a dee da
if you're not sleazy you will go far
you will live in happiness, too
like the oompa loompa doomp a dee do.
doompadeedoo.
posted by stavrogin at 7:06 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


kathrineg: In an attempt to rerail, what's so wrong about sounding like the kids on Jersey Shore? What about them, specifically, is to be avoided?

The volume.

Seriously.

No hamburgers.
posted by paisley henosis at 7:06 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Racial slurs have been reclaimed by the very people they were intended to insult? Wow, what a breakthrough in the world as we know it.
posted by 23skidoo at 7:07 PM on January 3, 2010


as though one couldn't tell the difference between someone from Stockholm and someone from Munich.

that's just dumb.

and even if you could, why should it matter? are blondes the only true Swedes? Do real Germans smell of kraut?
Italian citizens of Albanian decent are apparently less Italian than folks in New Jersey, cause Dante was from Little Italy or something.
Please tell the players of the French national football team they're really not French, since Debussy wasn't born in Algeria.
I could go on, but it's late and I need my sleep.
posted by mr.marx at 7:10 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


"I still have no idea why people who have not lived in Italy, Germany, Ireland or wherever, perhaps even for generations, call themselves Italian or German or Irish or whatever."

I'm not a sociologist but I see it as a way of preserving some identity within the giant American homogenized culture. You feel a little more grounded and tied to your family if you can pass on your grandmother's recipe for spaghetti sauce or pirogies or pasties to your kids. Modern culture can be a little washed out and boring, it's nice to feel like you're connecting with your ancestor's way of life in a small way. I'm guessing that immigrant families in Europe from other areas of the world feel the same way.
posted by octothorpe at 7:13 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


That said, it's a small thing. But I like to practice Broken Window Theory in language.

Dude, seriously. That window is already too broken to fix. If you try and put the shards back together, you're just going to get cut.
posted by mpbx at 7:15 PM on January 3, 2010


You stop small infractions to prevent people from sounding like the kids on Jersey Shore.

Seriously, "infractions"? The biggest infraction I see here is yours, Unmitigated Wrongness in Matters Concerning Language and Self-Superiority, which carries no official penalties but makes you look like a tragically misinformed elitist. Elitism is pretty much the tenor of most of the disparaging comments in this thread, which to a T are anecdotal and overreaching.
posted by invitapriore at 7:17 PM on January 3, 2010 [3 favorites]


Telling someone to not use Da Vinci to refer to Leonardo isn't going to make anyone actually do that, it's going to make you look like a pedantic, nitpicking jerk. No offense.
posted by mpbx at 7:20 PM on January 3, 2010 [4 favorites]


mr.marx: "that's just dumb.

and even if you could, why should it matter? are blondes the only true Swedes? Do real Germans smell of kraut?
Italian citizens of Albanian decent are apparently less Italian than folks in New Jersey, cause Dante was from Little Italy or something.
Please tell the players of the French national football team they're really not French, since Debussy wasn't born in Algeria.
I could go on, but it's late and I need my sleep.
"

They speak different languages, which would make it rather easy to tell them apart. Perhaps you are conflating some sort of essentialist version of race with ethnicity?
posted by kathrineg at 7:22 PM on January 3, 2010


How are supposed to discuss this trainwreck if the discussion keeps getting derailed?
posted by defenestration at 7:24 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'm obviously very bored tonight.
posted by defenestration at 7:26 PM on January 3, 2010


For everyone hating on MTV for Jersey Shore, I'd suggest they check out 16 and Pregnant and its sequel series Teen Mom, which are some of the best documentary programming you'll see anywhere.

This was pretty early in the thread, but I completely disagree. While on the surface they seem like shows designed to teach HARD LESSONS about sex and responsibility, but almost every single episode ends super-happy-upbeat. Which basically makes it "having a kid so young is hard, but we're making it and look it's so cuuuuute" -- practically pro-teen pregnancy. Which is a nutball stance to take.
posted by graventy at 7:26 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


That said, it's a small thing. But I like to practice Broken Window Theory in language.

I hear ya, but Usage Rule trumps all. Ain't never gonna change.
posted by graventy at 7:27 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


almost every single episode ends super-happy-upbeat.

I disagree completely. Especially with Teen Mom, it's pretty harsh.
posted by mpbx at 7:36 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm partly Italian, and "guido", to me, is a word that identifies a certain set of behaviors; not an ethnicity exclusively. I've seen regular Italian guys called any number of slurs without being considered guidos, and also plenty of northern European guys who enjoy tanning, hair gel, clubbing, modifying their cars and getting in fights identified as guidos. I don't know why, for the life of me, anyone would self-identify as a guido, but anyone can be one.

Having said that, I'm aware it's linked to the kind of garbage that gets regularly tossed at Italian-Americans. I'm pretty tired of the "Eight Heads in a Duffel Bag" brand of stereotypes myself. Then again, any kind of so-called humor that tries to entice laughter by reducing entire ethnic groups to cartoons doesn't really do much for me. If removing "guido" from the lexicon would help in some way, I'm all for it.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 7:59 PM on January 3, 2010


I still have no idea why people who have not lived in Italy, Germany, Ireland or wherever, perhaps even for generations, call themselves Italian or German or Irish or whatever. It's not like they are real ethnicities either, they are just countries.

That is one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard. Of course there are different ethnicities in Europe. The countries formed around the pre-existing ethnic groups/ languages/ cultures, not the other way around.
posted by fshgrl at 8:02 PM on January 3, 2010


Argh, I really should have included a HAMBURGER. I did not mean to come across as that big an ass. I know language evolves, I just like to be pedantic about it. In reality, I find defending language and broken window theory equally bizarre. I like to watch out for obvious spelling errors 50% because I actually find it fun, and 50% because I don't like people taking quick pot-shots at my comments.
posted by mccarty.tim at 8:11 PM on January 3, 2010


The countries formed around the pre-existing ethnic groups/ languages/ cultures, not the other way around.

Tell that to the Basques & the Catalans & the Bretons & the Flemish & the Schwabians & the Alsatians & the Roma & all the other groups & ethnicities that were subsumed in the European nation-state building enterprise, which was more about geopolitical power than some kind of organic coalescence of like-minded & like-speaking people.
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:11 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


This was one of the sidelinks from the Bobby Bottleservice vid mentioned above. At least The Situation is able to take the piss out of himself a little.
posted by Sparx at 8:17 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Tell that to the Basques & the Catalans & the Bretons & the Flemish & the Schwabians & the Alsatians & the Roma & all the other groups & ethnicities that were subsumed in the European nation-state building enterprise, which was more about geopolitical power than some kind of organic coalescence of like-minded & like-speaking people.

How does that disprove the idea that Italians, Germans and Irish are, in fact, real ethnicities and not "just countries"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:21 PM on January 3, 2010


I disagree completely. Especially with Teen Mom, it's pretty harsh.

Actually, now that I think about it a bit, there's a good chance I haven't seen Teen Mom. Sorry, MTV shows run together a bit. But, the episodes of 16 I've seen (and heard about from my sister) all kind of ended with an "I love this and wouldn't change a thing" vibe.

I'm glad to hear Teen Mom is better.
posted by graventy at 8:24 PM on January 3, 2010


If Irish isn't a really an ethnicity, then I'm just a drunk.
posted by Astro Zombie at 8:32 PM on January 3, 2010 [7 favorites]


As long as the show is making Italians look bad, and not New Jersey as a whole, I'm fine with it. We already have enough (mostly) inaccurate stuff out there about this state, and we don't have NEARLY as many of these douchebags as it may seem, thank god.


(First they came for the guidos, and as I was not a guido, I was like, dude, yeah, get rid of those guys.)
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 8:34 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


My mother embraced it (along with other slurs for Italians)

I simpatize with her, I did the same thing. In addition, I collected the most awful italian jokes in self defense against the obligatory "Did you hear the one about a dumb italian who..."

Now that I'm much older and a lot less patient I find that a cold "I beg your pardon?" or a severe "Would you repeat that, please" shuts up about 90% of the subhumans. And the rest? You would not believe how much like cussing "Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita.." sounds if recited in a nasty tone.
posted by francesca too at 8:44 PM on January 3, 2010


How does that disprove the idea that Italians, Germans and Irish are, in fact, real ethnicities and not "just countries"?

It doesn't entirely, but what it does is cast doubt on the idea that it was ever as simplistic & tidy as a bunch of people of identical ethnicity magically self-manifesting as a country.

What people like Garibaldi & Bismarck did was to squidge together a whole bunch of peoples with different local cultures, identities & dialects into reasonably unified wholes - a kind of ethnolinguistic arms race, if you like.

What happens in the process is that you end up with an official national language (Castilian, for example, in Spain) with the local languages suppressed (eg not taught in schools, not used on roadsigns etc) until the vanilla-flavour of the nationally-sanctioned language gains dominance.

Whatever happened to the Prussians, for example? In Napoleonic times, they were a major European power. Now, Prussian is a dead language. Did they suddenly transform into Germans?

And would you ever think of Americans as an ethnicity?
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:47 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


Whatever happened to the Prussians, for example? In Napoleonic times, they were a major European power. Now, Prussian is a dead language. Did they suddenly transform into Germans?

Er, that's a bit of a bad example there - Prussian was a dead language long before Napoleonic times (and when alive, it was closer to your parents' Latvian than German). The name might have stuck, but these were Germans. Moreover, the reason they don't live there anymore is not the state-building of Bismark and Garibaldi, but their fleeing from the Red Army in 1945.

None of which has anything to do with the original point of Polish-Americans calling themselves Polish etc. It must be mystifying for the man on the street in Warsaw have some American tell him in English that he's also a Pollack...
posted by claudius at 9:03 PM on January 3, 2010


As long as the show is making Italians look bad, and not New Jersey as a whole, I'm fine with it.

The cast members are all from New York.
posted by lullaby at 9:15 PM on January 3, 2010


Meet the Cast: Jersey Shore.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:16 PM on January 3, 2010


None of which has anything to do with the original point of Polish-Americans calling themselves Polish etc. It must be mystifying for the man on the street in Warsaw have some American tell him in English that he's also a Pollack...

It probably depends a great deal on the family, if it's been thoroughly absorbed into mainstream American culture, it's kind of pointless to hyphenate your ethnicity, but being Irish-American or Italian-American means something and are not just empty words. It implies a lot about family customs, foods you eat, your religion, etc. For a lot of people those are not minor facts about themselves, but are inextricably tied into their identity.
posted by empath at 9:18 PM on January 3, 2010


JWOWW's beauty site, including a link to her plastic surgeon and the glorious yellow top/acid wash jean combo she wore that seduced a nation...

Oh yeah... that sexy number will set you back $50, but she takes Paypal.

The copy. The font. The weight. The color combos. That site Timecubed me, and I'm paying it forward.
posted by Unicorn on the cob at 9:18 PM on January 3, 2010


Once raves were economically squeezed out / commercialized by the city, the whole clubber/raver distinction kinda collapsed and got messy.

derail: I've been to Toronto exactly once, for Labour of Love @ guvernment. Not exactly a real rave, but it was still a pretty awesome party and Toronto has the nicest ravers of any city I've partied at.
posted by empath at 9:25 PM on January 3, 2010


regardless of ethnic background they are all island trash.
posted by djduckie at 9:26 PM on January 3, 2010


I just watched the first episode of Jersey Shore (as well as Real World DC) at the behest of this thread, and I had forgotten how much MTV can make me feel like an indigent parent at a PTA meeting.
posted by Weebot at 9:28 PM on January 3, 2010


The cast members are all from New York.

Oh, thank the maker.
posted by John Kenneth Fisher at 9:28 PM on January 3, 2010


I'm the President of the Italian-American Anti-defamation League, and this really burns my cannoli.
posted by Eideteker at 9:30 PM on January 3, 2010 [5 favorites]


MTV can make me feel like an indigent parent at a PTA meeting.

Did you mean "indignant" or is this something I would have to live in NJ to understand?
posted by hermitosis at 9:40 PM on January 3, 2010


Jenni Farley aka JWoWW was twenty one yrs old when she moved from rural upstate New York, to New York City. Since Jenni was Seventeen she was interested in computer programming and spent 3 years studying it. After fulfilling her desire to be a computer programmer, Jenni realized she had a passion for fine arts and graphic design. Shortly after finishing 4 years of study at a local university she opened her own graphic design business known as Jenni Farley Designs Inc. In early 2008 Jenni was appointed vice president of marketing for the well known IgnitionNation.com social networking website.


Jenni always had a thing for nightclubs, but being the impatient & easily annoyed type never wanted to wait on the lines. It was the long lines, cold winters, and fake club promoters who think they own NY that got Jenni to realize that she wasn't going to be like everyone else who had to wait or pay to get into clubs in the tri state area. After conquering the club scene on long island and much of Manhattans outlaying boroughs she realized she wanted to reach out to the rest of the country by telling her story through MTV's newest reality show "Jersey Shore".


It's a crying shame that the race to the bottom is sometimes more profitable than the race to the top. On the other hand, it's also true that no one ever went broke overestimating the stupidity of the television public, so I guess it's not surprising that Jenni is successful in this endeavour.

Also a bit of a shame about basic literacy skills, but I suppose that's a bit moot compared to the bigger picture.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:54 PM on January 3, 2010


OK, so Prussian was a bad example. I was just trying to point out how problematic it can be to try to claim a simplistic 1:1:1 relationship between language, country of ancestral origin, and ethnicity, especially from the point of view of somebody born & bred in the new country.

But like empath says, it can really mean a lot if it's part of your family & upbringing.

Having said that, an Irish-Italian (ahem, sorry, Calabrian) friend of mine is very fond of pointing out that Italian-Australians whose parents or grandparents migrated here after the war often play up their "Italian" heritage (in the cliched "stylish & sophisticated bon vivant" mode) when in reality their forebears would've been the coarsest illiterate bog-peasants fom economic backwater villages in backwater places like Sicily & Calabria, which is why they hopped onto a boat to Australia in the first place.

So, there's also an economic or class aspect to claimed heritage as well. It's all very well to refer to da Vinci & Dante as part of some imagined generic "Italian" heritage, but it's a bit misleading if your true heritage was gutting pigs in the shed out the back, or trying to hawk cheese on the pavement that you've carried on the back of a donkey for two dozen miles to the nearest market village, because otherwise your wife - who is also your cousin - will knock out the last remaining tooth in your mouth, and at age 27 you sure could do with that tooth for the longer term.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:59 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


The cast members are all from New York.

Oh, thank the maker.


Not to start an old, snobby war, but Long Island-Party-Club-Beach culture is really fascinating. It's so insular and self-supporting and manifests itself in these exaggerated, distinctly identifiable displays. Like a cultural version of Australia, allowed to evolve brave new orange people - and keep creating new ones, every year, without outside interference. I feel like we need a Margret Meade of Montauk of something.
posted by The Whelk at 10:11 PM on January 3, 2010 [2 favorites]


And for John Kenneth Fisher, NJ is the strangest state in the Union, but not for the reasons everyone thinks
posted by The Whelk at 10:14 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


...in reality their forebears would've been the coarsest illiterate bog-peasants fom economic backwater villages in backwater places like Sicily & Calabria...

Heh, I have a friend whose (Northern-Italian-Australian) mother has unrestrained contempt for her (Southern-Italian-Australian) father's family's, furniture, style, cooking, everything. The only thing worse, it seems, is Greeks, but not by much.

Incidentally, I've heard that in Italy proper Northerners will call Southerners "Greeks" or "Arabs", since the south was colonised by both.
posted by claudius at 10:19 PM on January 3, 2010


"Guido" doesn't mean anything in New England, except for a person's name. My late Anglo-American grandfather felt that post-war, upwardly mobile Italians were assaulting his formerly all-Protestant town like the bugs from "Starship Troopers." He used "Guinea." As in, the development of tract houses where the Italians first settled was "Guinea Gulch" and a sub sandwich was a "guinea grinder."

So it remains. But now the term is mainly used by people of Italian extraction to demean other Italians whom they perceive to be of a lower station and displaying loud fashion/decoration preferences.
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:28 PM on January 3, 2010


NJ is the strangest state in the Union, but not for the reasons everyone thinks.

Color me interested. What's so strange about Jersey? I should mention, I ask as someone who's never been, and only knows the state through textbooks, popular culture and a few "expatriates" who had wildly varying opinions of their home state.
posted by joechip at 10:28 PM on January 3, 2010


I thought Metafilter was smarter than to get snared by this ridiculous bullshit. You know the fact that we're "discussing" this "controversy", and that it's getting so much play elsewhere as well, is entirely due to MTV's marketing department, right? This is the new advertising. It might as well be a thread about whether or not Snickers really satisfies. Jesus Christ, flip on your bullshit detectors.
posted by DecemberBoy at 10:29 PM on January 3, 2010 [6 favorites]


Oh, I see the "and for" context now. Never mind. Whoopsie!
posted by joechip at 10:31 PM on January 3, 2010


It might as well be a thread about whether or not Snickers really satisfies.

Dude her nickname is Snooki.
posted by graventy at 10:34 PM on January 3, 2010 [10 favorites]


I've been called "wop", "dago" and "guido" throughout my life (even if I'm more Polish than Italian - the last name draws the attention). Most often it has been done with love by friends, but I have to admit that there has always been a bit of... I don't know, hurt? annoyance? I play fast and loose with all the traditional stereotypes and have fun with the jokes, but for some reason when one of these words are sent in my direction there is the tiniest bit of a sting.

Its no big deal to me - I'm two generations removed from my family's immigration and my great-grandfather did quite a bit to Americanize us so that later generations wouldn't be discriminated against. A story my Grandpa tells is that no Italian was allowed to be spoken in the house. "If you speak Italian you'll get an accent. And if you get an accent then no one'll hire you because you sound like a God-damned Wop." (Sadly and ironically, my great-grandfather had a stroke later in life and lost his ability to speak English so none of the younger generations could communicate with him.)

I guess my point is that while the words may not have the impact that they used to and that their targets may no longer be oppressed the way they used to be, there is still a history there that can cause some discomfort for those still attuned to those old troubles. Especially for those who are older and remember when being Italian was a bad thing.

While the term "Guido" is often used in a self-identifying way, so are a lot of epithets. Some women identify with "JAP", but it shouldn't be thrown around carelessly since it has other uses that are not so nice. I feel the same way about "Guido", but I understand why people aren't up in arms about it as much as they would be about a show about a bunch of women who self-identified as "JAPS".

So in short, um, a show about "Guidos" is not cool but since no one is really going to be badly traumatized then there isn't much to do about it except not watch it and hope that other people won't either in order to keep it from coming back. Consequences of free speech and all that jazz.
posted by cimbrog at 10:41 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


when in reality their forebears would've been the coarsest illiterate bog-peasants fom economic backwater villages in backwater places like Sicily & Calabria, which is why they hopped onto a boat to Australia in the first place.

Which is probably why first generation immigrants were so uninterested in preserving their old world culture and so eager to embrace being Americans. They weren't rejecting opening night at the opera or quiet evenings reading the Divine Comedy as much as they were rejecting slopping out the hog shed 6 days a week.
posted by atrazine at 10:48 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


You know the fact that we're "discussing" this "controversy", and that it's getting so much play elsewhere as well, is entirely due to MTV's marketing department, right?

There is never a way to use quotation marks like that and be constructive or insightful. Imagine reading a comment with sarcastic quotations aloud with appropriate hand signals. Same thing, just as awful.
posted by joechip at 10:49 PM on January 3, 2010


I heard they were going to do a show about Dicks, but couldn't get it past the censors.
posted by o0o0o at 10:57 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


These people are amazing: Sometimes even The Situation, can't face The Situation.

The Situation as a method actor having trouble with his roles as himself, being counseled by the actors playing Snooki and Pauly D (who is British, like House or Stringer).
posted by blasdelf at 11:08 PM on January 3, 2010 [1 favorite]


They are "actors" and the "controversy" is largely scripted. I think quotation marks are entirely appropriate, as is the scolding. MeFi has undoubted been suckered by MTV.

It's so insular and self-supporting and manifests itself in these exaggerated, distinctly identifiable displays.

Evolutionary science explains it all perfectly well. Orange skin:peacock feathers. Sexual marker feedback loop: females love the tail feathers, so the male evolves ever-bigger, brighter tail feathers, until it all becomes quite ridiculous. See also: red-assed baboon, hummingbird dances, and other extremes.

It's difficult to predict where evolution might take us, but I'm thinking triple-breasted orange women will probably arise first in the NJ club scene.
posted by five fresh fish at 11:09 PM on January 3, 2010


You know what all this reminds me of? The Untouchables.

That film showed, among other things, just how entrenched societal racism was 80 years ago:

Malone: Ah, I knew it. That's all you need, one thieving wop on the team.
George Stone: Hey, what's that you say?
Malone: I said that you're a lying member of a no good race.
George Stone: Much better than you, you stinking Irish pig.
Malone: Oh, I like him.

Seems to me not much has changed.
posted by bwg at 11:11 PM on January 3, 2010


Tribes, clans, and even city states, used to be the absolute source of self identity throughout the entire world. One was far more likely (and expected) to fight and kill to asert this sort of primal identity than one ever would race or nationality. We tend to view these concepts as rather barbaric now.

One day maybe the entire concept of ethnicity will be looked upon as antiquated. As an Irish/Danish/Native American I hope so.
posted by tkchrist at 12:23 AM on January 4, 2010


There is never a way to use quotation marks like that and be constructive or insightful

Piss off. It's a perfectly acceptable way to communicate sarcasm in writing, since I can't very well write down the tone of my voice.
posted by DecemberBoy at 1:14 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Why no, no you can't.

hamburger
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:02 AM on January 4, 2010


Self-appointed "melting pot" still confuses descendance with ethnicity, and ethnicity with race.
Chinks, Wops, Niggers, Polaks, Nips, Heebs, Russkies, Frogs, Krauts, Gyps, Beaners, Spics and assorted Ragheads are moderately surprised.

HAMBURGER HAMBURGER HAMBURGER
posted by _dario at 3:06 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


And by the way: it's Leonardo. Really.
posted by _dario at 3:09 AM on January 4, 2010


Sorry I thought we were talking about this.
posted by alfanut at 3:56 AM on January 4, 2010


Remember when MTV played music videos?
posted by fixedgear at 5:23 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Real World San Francisco was 15 years ago, grandpa.
posted by smackfu at 5:33 AM on January 4, 2010


Puck is old and fat now.
posted by Mister_A at 6:58 AM on January 4, 2010


What a weak concept for a show. I can't think of anything I'd like to watch less.

Also: How is this a racial slur? Last I heard, Italians aren't a separate race.
posted by Liquidwolf at 7:08 AM on January 4, 2010


Hmm. I've seen "isn't a race" used as cover for some pretty awful stuff, including actual racism. I suspect that if you ever fond yourself saying "x isn't a race" you should really stop and have a good old think, even if it's semantically possible to argue it into some brand of bigotry that it's less fashionable to be outraged by.
posted by Artw at 7:32 AM on January 4, 2010


As an Italian-American, I don't care about hurting some people's feelings about the word "guido." Stop acting like one, and we'll stop calling you one.

WOP GUINEA MOTHERFUCKER OUT!
posted by grubi at 7:49 AM on January 4, 2010


And what's this "hamburger" nonsense?
posted by grubi at 7:49 AM on January 4, 2010


Yesterday's New York Times tackled the same question with the sneering glee they usually reserve for Harvard.

You know what? I love this show. It reminds me of the early 2000s, when everyone dressed terribly and partied all the time and felt free to complain about their jobs because there was no recession. It's like peering into an alternate, Bush-administration free universe, and it is wonderful and terrifying. Haters can step.
posted by oinopaponton at 8:15 AM on January 4, 2010


Wait, shmegegge is Italian?

I'm half Italian, half Jewish. Fuckin' I'm all pizza bagel and shit over here.

I understand why you're frustrated with the way people project their stereotypes onto you personally, shmegegge, but your attitude towards the problem rests on the same racialist framework that supports those stereotypes in the first place.

It absolutely does, and I assure you that this contributes to my frustration.

how do you draw the lines that save you from being the inheritor of, say, Pope Paul IV's legacy? Or Mussolini's?

I don't, but what a bizarre question. Is there some problem with me wanting to focus on the positive parts of italian identity?

If you're angry that people tend to associate you with another group based on your ethnicity, blame the people doing the associating based on simplistic stereotypes.

In as much as I blame anybody, I do. Part of the problem is that the people doing this associating are italians who behave this way.

It's anywhere from hard to impossible to issue blanket condemnations of a group of people without miring yourself in hypocrisy, so why not just avoid it?

sweet, I'll go ahead and tell my emotions to clam up, then. But honestly, I don't see the hypocrisy in condemning behavior and ignorance and a fucked up value system. in particular, I don't see the hypocrisy in condeming that behavior and value system when I'm told that that's what I should be like in order to be italian.

It's probably better for your blood pressure, anyway.

ha, it certainly is.

In truth, I wish I could get past shit like that. It frustrates me to no end, and I'm not made happier for it. It's just something that upsets me, and I'm not really able to move beyond it when I encounter it at this point in my life. Which sucks for me more than it does for anybody else.
posted by shmegegge at 8:16 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


goddamn i want to kill myself
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:27 AM on January 4, 2010 [6 favorites]


when in reality their forebears would've been the coarsest illiterate bog-peasants fom economic backwater villages in backwater places like Sicily & Calabria, which is why they hopped onto a boat to Australia in the first place.

Well, they weren't rich by any stretch of the imagination, but they had to be able to afford a boat ticket. At least in the US, the European immigrants of the early 20th century were lower class, but by no means the coarsest illiterate bog-peasants for this very reason. The poorest people and their descendants were stuck in Italy (and Poland and Ireland and Greece, etc.). Later generations have tended to romanticize the poverty of their immigrant ancestors. Their ancestors' struggles were very real, but very few of them were actually stumbling onto the boat penniless and alone.
posted by Copronymus at 8:31 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Jeez, this sentence...
After conquering the club scene on long island and much of Manhattans outlaying boroughs she realized she wanted to reach out to the rest of the country by telling her story through MTV's newest reality show "Jersey Shore".
...is wrong in so many ways...
posted by Mister_A at 8:42 AM on January 4, 2010


I call them douchebags.
posted by GratefulDean at 8:44 AM on January 4, 2010


goddamn i want to kill myself

Freddesign.com could learn a few things from her. Everyone knows you should never, ever mix Comic Sans with Arial, unless you tastefully apply layers and layers of hot pink and fluorescent magenta.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:57 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


How ganked on coke was the Situation on MTV's New Year's Eve countdown? Dude looked like he was going to gnaw his own face off.

I fucking love this show, NO APOLOGIES.
posted by The Straightener at 8:59 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Freddesign.com could learn a few things from her. Everyone knows you should never, ever mix Comic Sans with Arial, unless you tastefully apply layers and layers of hot pink and fluorescent magenta.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:57 AM on January 4


"WWW.IGNITIONNATION.COM is a car and motorcycle enthusiast website. JWOWW is the VP of Marketing..."

How on earth could someone this terrible ever get hired as

"...and spokes model for this ever growing social networking site."

Ohhhhhh.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 9:06 AM on January 4, 2010


I'm half Italian, half Jewish.

Call your mother.
posted by fourcheesemac at 9:11 AM on January 4, 2010 [10 favorites]


Ha ha ha ha! I am totally going to start calling my girlfriend a "pizza bagel."
posted by Eideteker at 9:19 AM on January 4, 2010


s/girlfriend/soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend
posted by Eideteker at 9:20 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


So, there's also an economic or class aspect to claimed heritage as well. It's all very well to refer to da Vinci & Dante as part of some imagined generic "Italian" heritage, but it's a bit misleading if your true heritage was gutting pigs in the shed out the back etc.

I don't think it's "imagined" when da Vinci and Dante were Italian. If you're claiming to be related to these people when your actual bloodline doesn't even approach them, then yeah, that'd be a tad dishonest. But I don't think there's anything wrong with being proud of or citing those who hail from your ancestral homeland. Especially as a counter to hurtful stereotypes about your ethnic background.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 9:33 AM on January 4, 2010


I just came back from the holidays, visiting my parents and my old homeplace on the Jersey Shore. I hadn't heard of this show before I went, but boy are people disgusted with it. It's not even the stereotyping that is bothering them so much - just the relentlessly unimaginative portrayal of the people and society of the Jersey Shore as one-note, crass, and crude. Sure, I'll fault the show for reinforcing a (definitely) negative stereotype, but I'll fault it more for its naive and manipulative idea of a region and culture the producers are shallowly uninformed about.
posted by Miko at 9:45 AM on January 4, 2010


I don't think it's "imagined" when da Vinci and Dante were Italian.

To be fair, they weren't, actually, since they both lived before the unification of a bunch of disparate city-states with their own language and identity into what we now know as Italy. Even an 'Italian' identity is a relatively recent development, let alone an Italian-American one. This is one reason that Italian-Americans whose families hail from different regions draw distinctions: Sicilian, Neapolitan, Milanese, etc. Growing up in NJ, I was aware that these distinctions had meaning to Italian-Americans (what meaning differed based on which group you were addressing).
posted by Miko at 9:48 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


Jenni always had a thing for nightclubs, but being the impatient & easily annoyed type never wanted to wait on the lines. It was the long lines, cold winters, and fake club promoters who think they own NY that got Jenni to realize that she wasn't going to be like everyone else who had to wait or pay to get into clubs in the tri state area. After conquering the club scene on long island and much of Manhattans outlaying boroughs she realized she wanted to reach out to the rest of the country by telling her story

It's like she's America's new Horatio Alger.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:02 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just can't get over the Manhattans outlaying boroughs part.
posted by Mister_A at 10:10 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


Isn't that everything but Manhattan?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:15 AM on January 4, 2010


Yes-but these would be New York's outlying boroughs. No borough out-lays Manhattan.
posted by Mister_A at 10:18 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Words cannot express how disappointed I am -- and I think I speak for a lot of people out there in this slice of the Internet -- at your failure to use the MammaMiaThatsaSpicyMeat-A-Ball tag on this post.
posted by jason's_planet at 10:27 AM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


I'm gonna go with the real nasty stereotypes, and wonder aloud if JWOWW's business ventures are a way of laundering money.

I sure as hell can't imagine any other way she'd get any business. Gross incompetence and eye-blindingly bad taste usually aren't well-rewarded.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:37 AM on January 4, 2010


Gross incompetence and eye-blindingly bad taste usually aren't well-rewarded.

You don't spend a lot of tiem in America now do ya?
posted by The Whelk at 10:50 AM on January 4, 2010 [2 favorites]


True, that. And none on the East Coast.

If JWOWW is legitimately successful, I am a failure and should move to Jersey where I can make my millions being mediocre.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:52 AM on January 4, 2010


Gross incompetence and eye-blindingly bad taste usually aren't well-rewarded.

Ha!

Wait, you're kidding with that, right?
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:53 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


I want to take this opportunity to say that I don't support excessive hair gel use.
posted by anniecat at 11:10 AM on January 4, 2010


Whycantwealljustfuggedaboutit
posted by Damienmce at 11:32 AM on January 4, 2010


Not all of the castmembers are from New York. Pauly D is from Rhode Island, and Sammi is from Hazlet, New Jersey.

Also: The Situation gets his own tag, and yet no love for Snookie (aka Schnookie aka Schnickers aka Snickers aka recipient of the infamous punch)?

I think her bump just deflated a little.
posted by shiu mai baby at 12:02 PM on January 4, 2010


To be fair, they weren't, actually, since they both lived before the unification of a bunch of disparate city-states with their own language and identity into what we now know as Italy.

I'm aware of this. But since the regions where they lived are now a part of modern-day Italy, you'll have people calling them Italians. The larger point I was trying to make, though, is that there's nothing wrong with expressing pride in sharing an ethnic/national/regional background with some of history's greats, especially in the face of the kind of one-dimensional stereotyping that people like to make about your background.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 1:10 PM on January 4, 2010


No borough out-lays Manhattan.

well, we're making a strong effort out here in Queens.
posted by shmegegge at 1:24 PM on January 4, 2010 [3 favorites]


The New York Post's Linda Stasi waded in with a fiery column in which she accused MTV of stereotyping her ethnic group as "gel-haired, thuggish ignoramuses with fake tans, no manners, no diction, no taste, no education, no sexual discretion, no hairdressers (for sure), no real knowledge of Italian culture and no ambition".

Welcome to Jersey, Sugar.


When I was a kid growing up in SF, the corner store in our Italian neighborhood was called Guido Bros., because that's what the owner's names were. I don't see a problem in using the word guido as slang. I DO however see it as a problem on the show, because clearly those people are mooks.
posted by MiltonRandKalman at 2:34 PM on January 4, 2010


So, there's also an economic or class aspect to claimed heritage as well. It's all very well to refer to da Vinci & Dante as part of some imagined generic "Italian" heritage, but it's a bit misleading if your true heritage was gutting pigs in the shed out the back etc.

I think self-determination is pretty nice. Besides, Leonardo's mother was a pig-gutting peasant and Dante was an exile, so...

An Australian can still lay claim to Australia's rock tradition even if his parents preferred Kylie Minogue to AC/DC.
posted by ersatz at 4:38 PM on January 4, 2010


Yes, sure a modern-day Italian-American can lay claim to Da Vinci or Dante if they'd like. The thing is that, based on my observations growing up in ethnically mixed NJ, they don't identify with them because of the regionality I mentioned. The elite Middle Ages Florentians just aren't what those families thought of when they thought of family back home in the country from which they emigrated. They thought of Napoli, Sorrento, Sicilia, maybe Abruzz, maybe Puglia, and they thought of them as they were in the nineteenth century when the families left - the places most affected by poverty or conscription. The Italians who became Italian-Americans in 20th century NJ identified more with their own regional pasts than with historical events in major cities in faraway regions hundreds of years before they were born. I say this not to snipe or to justify anything, but just to note it - the memories and identifications passed through families most directly were about home regions, not political organizations like nation-states, which came along later and were so unstable right into the 20th century. I think the compression of regional identity into national identity amongst American descendants of immigrants was almost a second-half-of-the-20th-century kind of thing: "Kiss Me, I'm Irish," "Italian Stallion" and all that. National solidarity was not an important thing to my great-grandparents and grandparents, who made significant distinctions about which local Irish families they considered worthless trash, which were 'good' families, and which just basically had nothing to do with them, being from the east or what have you. That's the kind of distinction I'm noting.
posted by Miko at 5:34 PM on January 4, 2010


Nod to my fellow Torontonians (from a former greater metro area-type).

Ginos and Ginas is what we called them (and they called themselves). Interestingly the Portuguese counted themselves among them. While I counted myself amongst the raver kids Ginos / Ginas were pretty much a non-event to me - other than an interesting oddity (much like their modern equivalents) and to be fair the feeling was mutual.

I'd like to try and give credit to the Jersey Shore bunch that their use of Guido is an attempt to reclaim and own an otherwise derogatory term as some African-Americans do with the N-word.

While I think the latter are credible in this regard, I simply think the Jersey Shore crowd (TV and otherwise) are operating more out of ignorance than anything and are in fact only giving more negative credibility to the term (Snooki is an excellent example of this - rocks are literally smarter).

This said, smarter Italians / descendants could take this and run with it, reducing the power of the pejorative term significantly or at least taking it down from the height by which it has been propelled by Jersey Shore.

In the meantime Jersey Shore will remain a guilty pleasure of mine. The navel-gazing is simply hypnotic.
posted by gnash at 5:48 PM on January 4, 2010


An Australian can still lay claim to Australia's rock tradition even if his parents preferred Kylie Minogue to AC/DC.

The thing is, they're both equally ridiculous positions to take.

It's classic "halo effect" stuff from in-group / out-group psychology. I have no more to do with Kylie or AC/DC than I have to do with Bjork or Vanilla Ice, so it's utterly ridiculous to lay any kind of "claim" to either tradition.

Ditto for Italians & Leonardo et al. Just because somebody from your country or your ancestral country was good at something or other, doesn't mean that you have any legitimate right to bask in their halo, or that any of their greatness somehow osmositises itself into you.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:57 PM on January 4, 2010


Just because somebody from your country or your ancestral country was good at something or other, doesn't mean that you have any legitimate right to bask in their halo, or that any of their greatness somehow osmositises itself into you.

For clarification purposes: I was speaking more to citing historical greats from an ancestral homeland as a counter to the types of damaging stereotypes people dream up than anything else, that is, in response to "all you wops are thuggish idiots" for example. It doesn't necessarily mean the person citing these greats is themself trying to sap into the mystic power of Da Vinci or whatever.
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:13 PM on January 4, 2010


"is themself"?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:14 PM on January 4, 2010


It's interesting to me how completely German ethnic identity died after the two world wars. There's no real equivalent Hans or Dieter slur; if you see a pop "German" reference, it's likely actually Yiddish. Germans in Germany have largely given up on the idea of ethnic and national pride, though that's coming back somewhat. But it's not like you can reclaim "Nazi."

(It is funny to me just how much one of my mother's colleagues, an Austrian, freaks out over Hogan's Heroes.)
posted by klangklangston at 11:03 PM on January 4, 2010


it's not like you can reclaim "Nazi."

Unfortunately, I think that has become the de facto German ethnic slur - if not specifically the use of the word "Nazi," then at least Nazi-esque: rigid, rulebound, acting superior.
posted by Miko at 6:24 AM on January 5, 2010


Yes, sure a modern-day Italian-American can lay claim to Da Vinci or Dante if they'd like. The thing is that, based on my observations growing up in ethnically mixed NJ, they don't identify with them because of the regionality I mentioned.

You know, there's a whole thing in this sentence that I'm positive you didn't mean to put there. But I feel it's worth mentioning that there's kind of a wide brush you're using here to talk about italian americans. I'm sure you didn't mean to imply that all italians are like this, but well there it is.

I think the compression of regional identity into national identity amongst American descendants of immigrants was almost a second-half-of-the-20th-century kind of thing:

I would imagine that there's some truth to this, in a kind of academic anthropology class kind of way. But again, awfully reductive and general. My grandfather was from Abruzzi, my grandmother Calabria. both american born, mind you, but those are the regions their family were from. It never stopped them from considering themselves of Italian heritage, and thinking of each other as kinsman in that way when they courted, rather than people from different regions. What's more, this kind of "oh, he's Nabollidan'" thing is straight up out of that very stereotype I'd prefer people not to assume is synonymous with italian american life.
posted by shmegegge at 8:14 AM on January 5, 2010


I have to second you there. My grandfather was from the north of Italy, and the neighborhood he grew up in, raised a family in, and passed away in had people from many, many different regions of Italy. But they refered to themselves as "Italian-Americans" (well, in those days it was "sons of Italy", like the club of the same name, but you get the picture.)
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 8:21 AM on January 5, 2010


Just because somebody from your country or your ancestral country was good at something or other, doesn't mean that you have any legitimate right to bask in their halo, or that any of their greatness somehow osmositises itself into you.

who on earth said it did? I mean, it's obvious that having family that comes from one or another location carries with it a history, some tradition, and can influence how other people view you, etc... it's not like italian americans are running around like "hey! everyone let's all talk about how we'd be natural born writers because of dante!" but people can and do feel an attachment to the country their family comes from. it's just human nature. that being the case, they can reasonably take an interest in what has come from there, and what it has contributed to culture.
posted by shmegegge at 8:24 AM on January 5, 2010


Very occasionally Americans tell me how English they are. Mainly I just laugh at them. I also laugh when my wife claims to be "Scottish", that's not always so popular with her though.
posted by Artw at 8:33 AM on January 5, 2010


I also laugh when my wife claims to be "Scottish"

Hey now, I can trace my Scottish line down to the first relative in the New World. He was an indentured servant from Scotland sent to be a carpenter's appearance in Virginia. He ran away after a few months and then went on to a life of petty crime and vagrancy before hoping a ship for New Spain and never heard of again.

His name was John too.
posted by The Whelk at 8:43 AM on January 5, 2010


I'm not going to hate on just this show but all reality shows that put immature people together and let whatever happens just happen. I swear all they do is go to a club, find the trashiest people there and put them in a huge house. Film them and call it a show. I feel sorry for the advertisers that have to pay to have their products shown during these time slots.

As for describing the show as a bunch of G***Os from Jersey is racist. I don't care if some people don't feel that it's wrong. It is the same thing if they said N****a's straight from da hood. It is wrong and this shit should be taken off the air. While they are at it, take off all crap like this. My brother loves this garbage. He says "the girls are hot". I say go watch porn then. Don't encourage producers to make more of this shit by watching it.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 9:04 AM on January 5, 2010


Advertisers don't have to advertise during those time slots. They choose to do so.

Speaking of which, I read that every single major advertiser has now pulled from the Glenn Beck timeslot. Yay!
posted by five fresh fish at 9:35 AM on January 5, 2010



Speaking of which, I read that every single major advertiser has now pulled from the Glenn Beck timeslot. Yay!



Cite? I need some cheering up today.
posted by The Whelk at 9:52 AM on January 5, 2010


The Whelk - yeah, that's the sort of thing.
posted by Artw at 10:18 AM on January 5, 2010


A lot of advertisers did abandon Glenn Beck last summer. However, he's still going strong.

Washington Post | January 03, 2010: Fox News host Glenn Beck's national domination -- "It's official: Americans admire Glenn Beck more than they admire the pope."
posted by ericb at 10:27 AM on January 5, 2010


Saturday Night Live Weekend Update: Snooki.
posted by ericb at 11:20 AM on January 5, 2010


It's classic "halo effect" stuff from in-group / out-group psychology. I have no more to do with Kylie or AC/DC than I have to do with Bjork or Vanilla Ice, so it's utterly ridiculous to lay any kind of "claim" to either tradition.

I wasn't talking about people claiming people for imaginary points. Just saying that if people consider their (often far removed) ancestors' works part of their cultural playground, they may feel more attached to them than to Vanilla Ice or Li Bai, regardless of the status of the first immigrants in their family. They also may not.
posted by ersatz at 1:03 PM on January 5, 2010


I'm not going to flippin' cite anything, Whelk. It was a blog post or news article I saw the other week. I'm sure it will take you no longer than it will take me to find it through a search, so go for it: there's certainly nothing in it for me to spend the time re-affirming what I know I read.

Sorry, but I don't have an photographic memory for URLs. Sometimes you're just gonna have to dig for yourself, or take what is said with a grain of salt. Especially over something as inconsequential as this.
posted by five fresh fish at 6:44 PM on January 5, 2010


So, there's also an economic or class aspect to claimed heritage as well. It's all very well to refer to da Vinci & Dante as part of some imagined generic "Italian" heritage, but it's a bit misleading if your true heritage was gutting pigs in the shed out the back etc.

Well, remember. You have two parents, four grand parents and so on. You have 2n ancestors as you go n generations back. Eventually the number gets so large that it encompasses every person who lived (and successfully passed along their genes) at that time. 33 generations would be 8 billion people (at that level) There's actually a pretty good chance that any random Italian would have been descended, at least in part from a medici or a some other historical italian figure. The same is true of people who don't live in Italy though.

Gross incompetence and eye-blindingly bad taste usually aren't well-rewarded.

Since when?

Washington Post | January 03, 2010: Fox News host Glenn Beck's national domination -- "It's official: Americans admire Glenn Beck more than they admire the pope."

To be fair, this pope kind of blows.
posted by delmoi at 1:52 AM on January 6, 2010 [2 favorites]


Gross incompetence and eye-blindingly bad taste usually aren't well-rewarded.
Since when?


That's the second time someone's said that. I'm sorry, I was foolishly overoptimistic about the value of competence and vision. As I sit here and look around at crap both in my house and on the web, it's obvious that the rewards come to those with connections and the balls-out boldness to claim their mediocrity is superior. JWOWW is the epitome of bad being valued over good.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:44 AM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm not going to flippin' cite anything, Whelk. It was a blog post or news article I saw the other week. I'm sure it will take you no longer than it will take me to find it through a search, so go for it: there's certainly nothing in it for me to spend the time re-affirming what I know I read.

Sorry, but I don't have an photographic memory for URLs. Sometimes you're just gonna have to dig for yourself, or take what is said with a grain of salt. Especially over something as inconsequential as this.


Wow, dude. You don't need to get snippy about it. Whelk was likely just as excited as anyone would be to hear this news. Or maybe, like me, he spent the past 20 minutes Googling around for this "all major advertisers leave Glenn Beck" story and found only stories of some advertisers leaving last August. It's like you told us it turns out unicorns exist, and they poop jelly donuts. WHY MUST YOU TEASE?
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 10:45 AM on January 6, 2010


Gah. Okay, so it's this important. It's not like I fact-checked the blog that had mentioned how many advertisers had pulled out; it's just not that important to me. But for all y'all, this should do the trick: eighty advertisers have dropped him and almost half his remaining advertisers are his employer's various other shows; several others are blatant gold-scamming rip-offs.

That's five more minutes put into learning more about Glenn Beck than I ever should have to spend on that creep.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:44 PM on January 6, 2010


And for kicks, here's more evidence the man is failing fast.
posted by five fresh fish at 1:45 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


Beck sold only 17 tickets in Boston, another 17 in New York

To be fair to Mr. Beck, only 13 of those tickets were purchased ironically.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 2:37 PM on January 6, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm of Italian descent but live in California. My fellow Italians and I around here refer to ourselves as porch monkeys. Is that OK?
posted by qwejibo at 7:48 PM on January 6, 2010


And for kicks, here's more evidence the man is failing fast.

Eh, it's a movie theater simulcast of a live show (never popular) in thoroughly Democratic cities. I don't think that's evidence of anything except the low bar for ThinkProgress stories.
posted by smackfu at 6:21 AM on January 7, 2010


Lynwood Washington is not a thoroughly "democratic" city.
posted by tkchrist at 4:21 PM on January 7, 2010


The quote that was posted here was for Boston and New York.
posted by smackfu at 4:59 PM on January 7, 2010


Can't we all just be happy that Glenn Beck is failing?
posted by five fresh fish at 5:21 PM on January 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


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