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'Jersey Shore': The Backlash Begins

"Jersey Shore" returns this Thursday, and right on cue, the naysayers are piping up—from The New York Times to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. What are they saying about America's new icons?


One of the occupational hazards of bringing up the rear of a newsmagazine—or "the back of the book," as it is more politely known—is that people don’t always take you seriously. I've never written or edited a major culture story where a good chunk of readers haven't questioned our news judgment. Dr. Phil? Friends? On the cover?!

So I was expecting readers to respond to our Jersey Shore piece this week much as Exodite Dragon did: “This counts as news?”  For what it’s worth, that’s what I thought all through the long, dull slog through the World Cup, but just because I couldn’t care less about soccer obviously doesn’t mean that it’s not newsworthy to millions of people (who apparently also enjoy watching paint dry).

So you can imagine how delighted I was that the World Cup of TV shows—the somber Sunday talk show This Weekasked New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie what he thought about Snooki, the Situation, and their fellow guidos and guidettes. "Negative for New Jersey," he said, before blaming the Jersey TV phenomenon on ... New York. Typical.

And it gets better, or maybe I should say worse. The New York Times took the name-calling one step further in a profile of Snooki, which began with this flattering sentence: "FLAKE, cow, loser, slut, idiot, airhead, trash, penguin, creep, moron, midget, freak, Oompa-Loompa, nobody." All of which may be true, but given that the next line of the story talks about how Snooki's father is dealing with his pint-size daughter's fame, it seems just this side of cruel, not to mention out of touch. America loves Snooki. She tells it like it is and doesn't pretend to be something she's not. People look up to her—you don't think that Governor Christie would be going around with a megadark suntan if Snooki hadn't made that look cool, do you?

Marc Peyser is NEWSWEEK's culture editor.

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