New Jersey residents believe that the hit MTV show “Jersey Shore,” with its uncouth cast of pseudo-celebrities, is giving the Garden State a bad name. According to a Quinnipiac University poll, a majority of New Jerseyans find the show reflects poorly on the state and is harmful to its image. CNN reports that, regardless of gender, political party affiliation, or as a general population, New Jerseyans find MTV’s “Jersey Shore” bad for the state’s image.
Just last month, New Jersey governor Chris Christie made the comment that the show was doing the state more harm than good. He said:
“What it does is it takes a bunch of New Yorkers, who are — most of the people on ‘Jersey Shore’ are New Yorkers — takes a bunch of New Yorkers, drops them at the Jersey shore, and tries to make America feel like this is New Jersey.”
It seems, at least according to the Quinnipiac poll, that most New Jerseyans agree.
The poll found that 57 percent of New Jersey residents see “Jersey Shore” as bad for the state’s image. By gender, men see it as 51 percent bad, while women see it as 57 percent. Along party voting lines, Republicans find it just a little worse than Democrats, 57 percent to 52 percent, respectively.
But is it just “Jersey Shore”? Doesn’t New Jersey already have a bad reputation? The show certainly doesn’t do the state any favors by illuminating the drunken lifestyles of the cast members, but is the impact that pronounced or is it just another layer of dirt on an already tarnished surface? To be fair, MTV’s “Jersey Shore,” with Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, Jennifer “JWoww” Farley, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, and their fellow housemates, has only been around for two years.
It isn’t difficult to find a comedian on YouTube or some late night talk show host quipping that New Jersey is the “armpit” (or worse) of New York (or America). New Jersey is for states what Cleveland, Ohio, is for cities. It is the brunt of countless disparaging jokes, from Don Rickles to David Letterman. Although meant to be humorous, there is little doubt that decades of such jokes, not to mention regular news — scandals, crime statistics, etc. — reflecting poorly on the state, has had an adverse effect on the way the state is viewed from outside (and sometimes inside) its borders.
And what about people outside of New Jersey? There is little doubt that the Quinnipiac poll is biased, considering that the survey only asked for the views of those who dwell in New Jersey. Individuals with ties to the state — family, friends, business — would most likely be more apt to be defensive of the state. To be fair, perhaps an outlet (like Quinnipiac University) should do a survey where the sample population is drawn from areas outside the state of New Jersey, asking if “Jersey Shore” and its group of young partiers makes the state of New Jersey look bad. Then, as a follow-up, they could ask if the participant knew that the cast members were from outside New Jersey (they’re New Yorkers) and if that knowledge — or lack thereof — had any bearing on their view — or altered their view — of the show and its impact on New Jersey’s image. They could then compare the findings of the various survey questions.
If anything, the poll — and Gov. Christie — gives Snooki Polizzi and her fellow cast members far too much credit. Fairly or unfairly, the cast of “Jersey Shore,” from their foul mouths (the entire cast) to their drunken exploits (most of the cast) to their arrests (Snooki, Ronnie Magro) to their sexual shenanigans (Ronnie and Sammi, Snooki and her boyfriends, etc.), have simply added to New Jersey’s already poor image.
Maybe there should be an episode where the producers share the findings of the Quinnipiac poll with Snooki and crew. The opinions of the housemates would most likely be quite colorful. Most likely, the cast members would claim their New York backgrounds and denigrate New Jersey. But would it help? Doubtful.
Still, for now, it looks like business as usual — a bunch of outsiders making New Jersey look bad.