Yesterday's Pop Culture Trash, Today's Viral Hit
- January 13th, 2010
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For a show I’ve never seen and have no real interest in seeing, I know way too much about “Jersey Shore.” My guess is anyone (youth or otherwise) with a passing interest in pop culture today could say the same. For this, I don’t blame MTV or the cast of seven, integral as they are. I blame Michael Cera (who seems to be coming up a lot today), reposted SNL clips, and the countless snarky blogs that can’t help but make fun of JS and its (sigh) breakout stars Snooki and The Situation.
It’s the social media watercooler effect in action. Just like the sudden spread of viral trends or internet-famous celebrities we’ve discussed here in the past, this age of fragmentation has allowed old media’s disposable culture (trash TV like “Jersey Shore,” faux-cialites like Speidi, tabloid news like Balloon Boy) to living on well past their normal expiration dates as prime meme material. Admittedly, amusing at times (see photo above), it concerns me that this prolonged buzz and the delayed ratings boost it can bring will ultimately legitimize this type of lowest-common-denominator entertainment and worse yet, ensure more to come. A hypothetical that doesn’t bother me so much because of issues like ethnic stereotyping or heavy partying/drinking (I think Caro’s review speaks to how desensitized teen viewers are), but because, well, teens deserve better than that. And, call me naive, but I still believe MTV is capable of delivering better than that. Not that they’ve proven it to us lately, and the pressure to regain their youth media par excellence status hasn’t done anything to help, but still. A show that seems to exist solely as punching bag fodder for the bloodthirsty blogosphere? Really? It just makes me miss the days of “Daria”, “Sifl and Olly” and “Real World” casts that actually had something intelligent to say to each other.
As for what the rest of us can do to help the cause, I’ll point to a brief, but brilliant post from Jason Kottke. Inspired by a gag on “The Simpsons,” Jason encourages readers to use the “just don’t look” strategy for killing the spotlight on anyone or anything that runs on attention translating in webspeak “roughly into ‘just don’t link or read’.” Easier said than done, I know. But like the message I hope MTV will take away from all this, easier isn’t always best.