While MTV is notorious for pushing the envelope of good taste and decency in its program selection, few of its shows are as controversial as Jersey Shore. Ever since television viewers first encountered Snooki, The Situation and other cast members of the now-infamous show named after their home state, there’s been no lack of the kind of debauchery that’s become the hallmark of all MTV fare.
Thanks to the cartoonish cast, America has been introduced to all sorts of new slang terms that characterize their depraved behavior. Ever heard of GTL? For “guidos,” or New Jersey men of Italian heritage, it represents their daily regimen of maintaining their body at the gym and tanning salon, and further maintaining their appearance with laundry; thus, GTL. (And, yes, I did have to reference Urban Dictionary to write that last sentence.)
The show is so full of embarrassingly bad behavior that, according to a recent Quinnipiac University poll, sixty-seven percent of New Jerseyans believe it is bad for their state. Who can blame them? What state would want the Jersey Shore crew to represent their residents?
The most reprehensible part of the show is how it unapologetically portrays the stars: as bed-hopping drunks with no life ambition other than searching for the next party and their next sexual conquest. It is indeed a sad commentary on American culture when this behavior is glamorized by a major cable network that influences the lifestyles of its young, impressionable teenage audience. The Jersey Shore cast members should be offered as cautionary tales, not the people you want to party with.
With entertainment venues constantly barraging young people with such harmful messages about what’s acceptable behavior, parents feel besieged by a culture that could care less about preserving the innocence and mental and physical health of its young. Sadly, government is only compounding the problem by further usurping the diminishing role of parents in the lives of their children, while at the same time sending them a very similar message to that of Jersey Shore.
New laws recently passed in California clearly represent the problem. Governor Jerry Brown just finished clearing hundreds of bills from his desk. Amongst those bills were two related to parental rights and the behavior of young people.
Assembly Bill 499 allows minors over the age of 12 to consent to medical treatment for sexually transmitted diseases without parental consent or notification. So if some thirteen-year-old Snooki-wannabe emulates her favorite celebrity by having sex, she can now use the same immature judgment that led to her STD in determining its treatment—all without her parents’ knowledge. How does it aid a teenager’s health by further abetting a dangerously promiscuous lifestyle?
Being sexually promiscuous is only part of the Jersey Shore lifestyle. There’s also the tanning Senate Bill 746 bans minors under the age of 18 from using tanning beds in California. There goes the “T” in that GTL regimen. Even if a parent wanted to give consent to their child using a tanning bed, that parental right has been take away by the state. (Sorry, Toddlers & Tiaras stage moms.)
From a parent’s perspective, it’s impossible to follow Governor Brown’s logic in signing these two bills. He’s fine with 12 year-olds being sexually active and making major decisions about their health without parent involvement, but he doesn’t think they have the maturity to determine whether they can use a tanning bed.
In California and for Jerry Brown, potentially getting skin cancer from tanning is far worse than having underage sex, which has awful physical consequences (sterility, long-term STD damage). Do politicians not understand that teens aren't emotionally ready to handle the consequences, which can leave much deeper scarring?
It may be on the opposite shore of America, but California’s government is treating its young people as though they are living the Jersey Shore lifestyle. Governor Brown and his liberal friends think they should have control over whether your child gets a tan, but children should determine their sexual health regardless of parental wishes. Sounds like a bad TV show, right? Too bad it’s reality.