26 Feb 2010, Comments (2)

Jersey Cake Boss and Jersey Guidos, Italians in Reality

Author: Martin Milius

The TV shows, Cake Boss and Jersey Shore capitalize on the Italian culture for entertainment. Both shows highlight characters arguing and drinking. It seems most Italians are identifying with Buddy and snickering at Snooki. Do you watch Cake Boss for the cakes or the characters? Do you watch Jersey Shore to see Italian Americans or to see demoralized youth? Would these shows be successful if the characters were not Italian?

Jersey Shore illustrates what the cast refers to as the “Guido” Italian subculture. Tony DiSanto is an Italian American and president of MTV’s programming. He said in response to Jersey Shore critics, “My intention is never to insult, stereotype or hurt. It was about capturing that sort of character and zeitgeist. I thought it would be a fun and entertaining show.” The show has been highly successful, highly publicized, and highly criticized.

The National Italian American Foundation has issued an official statement against Jersey Shore saying, “it portrays the program’s characters as representative of the Italian American community. This is simply not accurate and its prevalence in the media is damaging to Italian American Identity.” They also said, “This program and its characters had more in common with the adolescent residents of ‘Animal House’ than with Italian Americans.” If you have seen the show it’s easy to understand why they feel this way.

On another TV network, Cake Boss shows the love and arguments in Italian family relationships. The main character Buddy Valastro struggles to manage the bakery and the rest of the cast. The cast consists of his wife, his kids, his cousins, his mother, and his friends. The show visually portrays the old Italian saying that everyone is in each other’s business. However this show has received no backlash, outrage, or criticism.

The television shows, Jersey Shore and Cake Boss both entertain us with their Italian characters. One shows the Italian “Guido” subculture, while the other serves us Italian family values, arguments, and cake. They both have stereotyped characters, yet Jersey Shore has been criticized for promoting a false Italian image. What are these shows saying about Italians?

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