December 24th, 2009
01:58 PM ET
What does former “Who’s the Boss?" star Alyssa Milano have in common with a New Jersey politician? They are both fed up with the MTV show “Jersey Shore.”
MTV’s latest reality creation has been run through the wringer of public opinion by folks upset over its stereotypes of Italian-Americans and its portrayal of violence against women.
Now New Jersey State Senator Joseph Vitale, the chairman of the New Jersey Italian American Legislative Congress, is taking a stand. The senator announced earlier this week that his group has sent a letter to Viacom, parent company of MTV, asking them to cancel the controversial program, saying the show promotes ethnic stereotypes of Italian-Americans that are offensive and untrue.
“They go out of their way to encourage the cast members to use the term 'guido,' ” Vitale told CNN. “Any other ethnic group would not allow words that offend them or offend their ethnicity to be used this way. I don’t care what these kids do down the shore if they want to tan or spike their hair - that’s their life - but I think words do matter.”
The letter, addressed to Phillipe P. Dauman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Viacom Inc., questions just how “real” the depictions on the show are.
“ 'Jersey Shore' is a fabrication created by MTV Networks and marketed to represent reality. It was filmed on a set, which, in fact, is dismantled after filming. A story-line, while perhaps not scripted, was created and a cast of Italian Americans hired. … The subculture depicted in ‘Jersey Shore’ is one created solely by MTV Networks,” Vitale wrote in the letter.
Vitale also notes that the Italian-American cast of the show regularly uses the derogatory terms “guido” and “guidette” when describing themselves, and that the use of such terms violates Viacom’s own policies requiring a harassment-free workplace, as well as New Jersey’s tough laws on racial bias and ethnic discrimination.
“You just don’t use words like that. It’s not acceptable and it’s not OK for Italians to use them and it’s not OK for non-Italians to use them. It promotes a stereotype,” Vitale said.
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