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by on February 1, 2011

Franca Sozzani is quickly becoming my favorite blogger. Her ill-translated, acrimonious diatribes on the decline of culture and civilization are refreshing because unlike her American counterpart, Franca’s not afraid to be frank. The Vogue Italia EIC’s latest issue, the trash of the Jersey Shore.

Around the World in a Trash Bag

You may have heard that the fourth season of MTV‘s pop culture juggernaut, the Jersey Shore will be filming in Italy. Italians, for reasons I cannot begin to comprehend, are none too pleased about this. But luckily Franca is around to explain:

“It doesn’t make us [Italians] look too good, and no matter how many protests there are in Italy, the series is a great success. It looks incredible that whatever is ugly, cheap, ignorant, foul, and doesn’t make much sense other than being seen…young people screaming and fighting, insulting each other, get drunk and make love, is a success. It’s like that. And they get success.”

The success of the Jersey Shore is no doubt baffling to anyone with an IQ above, oh, 30, but as a devotee of the show — yeah, I’ll admit it publicly — I derive a great amount of pleasure in seeing people who clearly have never heard of “self-awareness” going through the motions of their petty dramas, fights and inevitable reconciliations all while drenched in Jose Cuervo.

Why does ugliness attract, and especially a young audience? What’s so interesting about watching ugly people, poorly dressed, and that speak vulgar? Why should anyone fall down to that level? It’s sounds impossible that people would want to lower themselves this much. It’s ignorance, lack of real interests.”

I’m not sure if Sozzani’s referring to their looks or their behavior when she calls them ugly, but we as human beings loves to see someone — not ourselves , god forbid — “fall down to that level” and act vulgar. Not only does it make you feel superior, but that behavior allows you to live vicariously through these characters — and at this point, they’ve all become caricatures of themselves.

You may have the worst day, have broken up with your significant other, lost a job, what have you, but there’s something comforting in seeing Snooki wasted, yet again, in a nightclub wearing what could barely pass for a dress, falling down and getting arrested. You can experience that hedonism without directly suffering the consequences.

I, however, am not Italian — and for that matter, neither is half the cast of the Shore — and Franca seems to think that their actions are a reflection on Italians. A very poor reflection at that.

“Is this what they think of us abroad? Apparently, yes.”

On this point, I would have to say Sozzani is way off the mark. The Jersey Shore doesn’t depict life as an Italian-American, it depicts life as a guido; that special subset of Italian-American culture that revels in spray tans, big hair, gorilla juiceheads and smooshing. And who, for their credit, are damn proud of it.

When I think of Italy, I still think of a country rich in history and culture; I think of Italy as I’ve seen in it in Fellini films; gorgeous men in tight pants riding around on vespas; gorgeous, dark eyed women with impossible curves gyrating seductively to a mandolin. But then again, I’ve never been to Italy.

Franca Sozzani believes Italy has culture, but she’s shocked that “there is a lot of trash.” Well, sister, how do you think we feel? America spawned the Jersey Shore and the culture it documents/lampoons. We’re the garbage dump; Italy is a wastebasket in comparison.

Link Love: Vogue.it


Contributed by Lester Brathwaite

I was center square from 1969 to 1978, during which I perfected the art of the zing as well as a crippling cocaine addiction. Bea Arthur was responsible for both. @LesFabian lester dot brathwaite at gmail

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