Friday, May 06, 2011

In defense of Jersey Shore

I watched George Stroumboulopoulos interview Rex Murphy the other night. At the end of the interview, George asked Rex what his guilty TV pleasure was. To my surprise, Rex said he wholeheartedly and unabashedly loved Jersey Shore.

I was floored. Here was one of Canada's sharpest and most accomplished political commentators coming out of the closest to confess his fond feelings for the debauchery of the Shore. A man known for his love of literature was publicly admitting that he also enjoys watching a bunch of gorilla juiceheads getting jacked, dodging grenades and creeping in the club.

All I could think was: I'm not alone!

Embracing high art does not mean you have to snub low art. I love books and I love Jersey Shore. Rex Murphy proves it is possible to appreciate both Shakespeare and Snooki. So why is this such a difficult concept for some people to wrap their heads around?

I once told a friend I was a fan of the Shore and she acted as if I had slapped her in the face.

"But, but, but," she stammered. "Your lifestyle is the complete opposite of their lifestyle! They're so stupid. How can you watch that garbage?"

Because it's funny. Because it's fascinating. Because it's dark. Because you don't have to be stupid to enjoy the stupidity of it all.

We all know a triple-fudge brownie is bad for us but that doesn't make it taste any less sweet. It's the same with Jersey Shore. It's junk but it's delicious junk.

To be fair to my friend, my lifestyle really is the complete opposite of the one enjoyed by the Shore cast mates. I don't tan. I don't club. I don't creep. I don't drink to the point of inebriation every night of the week. I don't have fake hair, fake boobs, fake nails and fake eyelashes. I am not attracted to guys with big muscles and small brains. And I most definitely would not be DTF with Vinny, Mike or Pauly D (and even if I was DTF, they'd probably think I was a grenade so it's out of the question on all counts).

Rex Murphy defends the Shore much better than I ever could. He explains that the environment of our common consciousness is television and the Internet. And, like it or loathe it, Jersey Shore is part of our collective consciousness.

"I mean, you don't have to want to marry Snooki to watch it," he said. "But as long as you're aware of it, at least you know the world you're in. But this idea that you seal yourself off in some purist castle and read Descartes and Kant and snub the world, it's idiocy! And as I often say in this kind of context, Moby Dick really is a great book and you really should read it more than once but you shouldn't read it every day. It's a bad habit." (Source: George Stroumboulopoulos Tonight, interview with Rex Murphy, May 3, 2011)

In other words, it's all about balance. A little bit of Shakespeare, a little bit of Snooki. It doesn't have to be one or the other.

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