Saturday, January 2, 2010

Just grow a pair, MTV

This Thursday we were all treated to perhaps the greatest New Year's Eve gift of all: a new "Jersey Shore." It was a little bit of a letdown maybe, but that was almost inevitable after last week's masterpiece. It was the closest thing we'll ever see to the lovechild of Shakespeare and Amy Winehouse.

But as much as I have loved this parade of Bacardi-fueled debauchery, I have some serious qualms with the network itself. I don't blame the Guidos for the same reason I don't blame the cast of "Meerkat Manor" for being kind of mean to each other and getting killed by jackals and cobras--it's just what they do. That being said, over the last few weeks MTV displayed approximately the same level of consistency on the issue of violence as a rabid squirrel set on fire.

Let's run the timeline of events:

1) MTV extensively runs the clip of Snookie being punched in the face to build interest in the episode.
2) MTV circulates it online for the same purpose.
3) MTV announces that we won't be seeing the actual punch on the show because of it's concerns that the act would be condoning violence against women. There is also a serious looking PSA at the end of the show denouncing violence.
4) In the following episode, JWOWW initiates a fistfight against multiple strangers. This is followed by numerous slow-mo replays and and extended analysis by Snookie and Jwowww explaining how awesome that was, and how much she enjoys fighting.
5) Clips from next week when Ronnie apparently assumes his role of street brawler by drunkenly fighting with another stranger.
6) Snookie murders two people with a nail-filled two by four. MTV charges $39.95 on pay per view to see it live.

OK, the last one was only partially true. They wouldn't have shown it live since there would have been too little chance for replays and in-fight analysis from Snookie ("I jus saw her all up on my poof and I'm all like HELLLSS NOOOO!!! YOU DO NOT TOUCH MY POOF! And then I hit her in the eye with my board.")

The problem here is that the network made this whole push to come off as respectful of women and opposed to violence, and then spent the next 2 episodes fully advocating drunken fighting with strangers. Which inherently puzzles me as to why they felt it necessary to black out the actual punch everyone wanted to see. I don't doubt that they were receiving some flack from organizations opposed to violence (and normal society in general), but since when has this mattered? They've been catching hell from pretty much every Italian organization and I'm sure any number of feminist groups since day one, yet somehow they thought it would look responsible if they blacked out a single act that was probably the one thing that wasn't the fault of the show's characters. Huh?

I suppose it's partially to give the appearance of not trying to capitalize on violence, but it's really irrelevant in the broader context. If we're going to go the route of trashy, gritty, realism, why the hell are we suddenly censoring the elements that best demonstrate the danger and repugnance of what happened. It's because, wait for it....they don't really give a shit. If they were really concerned with violence, they'd either :(1)not show (and inherently approve of) any of it or (2) show everything and then be critical of it. Instead, they've neutered the negatives of what happened and promoted the parts where people didn't get hurt as some sort of rascally good fun. Problem is, the main arc of episode 7 isn't going to be where Ronnie has to visit his probation officer for an aggravated assault.

My stance is to just show everything and then if you want to call it bad, then do it. But the half-way thing is a complete waste of everyone's time. And the option to cut out the negative ramifications while showing how fun it is to attack strangers is completely out of line and does nothing except suggest that it's not really that bad.

I'll write more on the season so far and other items, probably some football and news. Lots to get caught up on, so I'll post next early next week.

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