Thursday, August 11, 2011

C Snookies Room

There's two general points-of-view toward  the show Jersey Shore. One is  that it's terrible for New Jersey & the Jersey Shore. The other is that it typifies one aspect of boardwalk town sleaziness. I pretty much go with the latter. I don't like how it inflates the its particular sleaziness, but the characters are not inauthentic.  They aren't caricatures; they only play them on TV.   The semi-fictional "reality" show drives some Jerseyans into spasms of denial, just as the totally fictional but plausible The Sopranos did. New Jersey grows plenty of the  types from both programs. A lot of Jerseyans want the state's image to be the one projected by a slick magazine, New Jersey Monthly; affluent middle-class; hip, expensive restaurants; fashionable boutiques; classical music & jazz that musicians play without breaking a sweat; features listing the state's best & most exclusive divorce lawyers & cosmetic surgeons.  Well, that's true, too. I can draw you a map for a tour of Jersey that avoids everything sleazy or potentially offensive to easily-bruised sensibilities. It can start or end at a Victorian bed & breakfast in Cape May City. Seaside Heights is not for those who need to control their environment & like everything muted. On a good summer evening, a good boardwalk is the "11" setting on the Marshall amp.

A boardwalk store displaying  cheaply made pink bikini bottoms with "Kiss Snooki's Ass" printed on the rump is just offering the more topical version of the  timeless "Italian Bitch" tee shirt hanging on the racks inside.  Of course, a motel with no pool that relies on nightly walk-ins to light the "No Vacancy" sign will put "C Snookies Room" on the letter board marquee. Seaside Heights attracts people who want to "C Snookies Room" because Snooki Polizzi  herself would want to see it & stay at that motel if she weren't Snooki. Doing business on & around the boardwalk is about selling some stuff different from  what you sold last year  & yet the same.  People that return to Seaside Heights & Wildwood boardwalks year-after-year (proportionally few of whom stay for a week in Seaside Heights & Wildwood proper -  most  stay in towns north & south of the boardwalk) are just as adverse to radical change as the readers of New Jersey Monthly.

Jersey Shore didn't create a culture, it just branded one that already existed & will continue to exist when the show is over. Jerseyans resent, with some justification, the branding of the entire shore with a culture that exists in only some of the towns.  On shore vacations, I center myself in convenient proximity to the big, raucous Wildwood boardwalk, but I also spend an afternoon in sedate downtown Stone Harbor, have dinner at an affordable outdoor restaurant on the Cape May Mall,  enjoy  the county zoo, prefer a beach at the Hereford Inlet end of North Wildwood, take a cruise on the Lewes ferry, & visit two lighthouses, My favorite tacky shell/souvenir shops aren't even on the boardwalk. & I've always  avoided the bars where people like the cast of Jersey Shore hang out. Those bars have lousy DJs.

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Bob- this post is sheer brilliance and 100% right on.

I remember going to Seaside Heights and Wildwood years ago, at times when I wanted a different experience, although sometimes when I did not.

Now - as you know, it is Ocean City for this old girl.

Thank you!
My family has been spending a week or two every summer at Seaside Park for 50+ years. Seaside Heights really hasn't changed much since I was a kid in the 1970s. Young people primped, preened and showed off for the opposite sex in the 70s too...they just sported longer hair and smelled differently.
Fran, I loved the Ocean City NJ boardwalk at night when I was a kid. Until I was about 12 it was the only boardwalk I really knew. All lit up, it was a magical world. I think I was first brought there before I was one year old., definitely before I was two.

The great flaw in Atlantic City may be that casinos were just too radical a change. They were too self-contained to co-exist with the old Atlantic City. The first time I went back after casinos was an extremely depressing experience. I guess I was hoping for something more like downtown Vegas.
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