The Real Jersey Shore, A Local Perspective
From the first time I set foot on the USC campus, one question has plagued me. No matter who I meet or where I meet them, almost every person I have encountered has asked me the same question the moment I tell them where I am from: “Is that what it’s really like?” I almost dread telling people because saying that I am from New Jersey, and more specifically the Shore area, has become a little tiring. This will be my final explanation, for all of the people who I am yet to meet: I’m going to let down my pouf and let everyone what the Jersey Shore is really like, from guidos to grenades and everything in between.
I personally have all the makings of a guido or more properly, a “guidette”. I’m really just a few spray tan sessions and the occasional fistfight away from being one. I was born on Staten Island, I’m Italian, and I now live by the Jersey Shore. MTV probably would classify me as a guido and unfortunately for others like me, thanks to this show as well as others (Real Housewives, Jerseylicious, Jersey Couture), so would a lot of people. Maybe no one else has noticed, but of the 8 people on Jersey Shore, only 2 are from New Jersey: Sammi and the Situation. The rest are mostly from New York and your girl’s fave DJ randomly showed up from Rhode Island (that would be Pauly D, in case you didn’t know).
That’s lesson number one about Jersey Shore. It’s named for where they are, not where they are from. However, every summer people from these places do tend to storm the Shore, and if an outsider were to visit certain beaches during the day, they would find tons of guidettes flocking around juiceheads, trying to get noticed in their miniscule bikinis, while at a club later that night they would find tons of guidettes flocking around juiceheads trying to get noticed in their miniscule dresses. You know who probably wouldn't be found at that beach? My friends, most of my town, other non-guido New Jersey residents – and me.
New Jersey has a lot of beaches, and most locals don’t want to be bothered with people whose names consist of one letter and an exclamation point. In fact, we had a name for those sorts long before Jersey Shore existed: Bennies, and there has been a “Benny Go Home” campaign along the Shore for as long as I can remember. Benny actually stands for Bergen/Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York, the places that these people tend to come from.
The term has been used for years to describe the people viewed as polluting the local beaches due to intrusive and obnoxious behavior. Sound familiar? This was the precursor to the new infiltration of guidos, and it allowed the locals to be prepared. We tend to go to smaller, simple beaches and the guidos, Bennys, shoobies -- whatever you want to call them -- tend to gravitate towards the ones that offer more -- places with a boardwalk, or a pier or now, nightclubs. Technically, it's all part of the Jersey Shore, but if you want the real experience, small beaches are the place to go. This is where the real real people of the Shore spend their summers.
It’s hard to describe the Jersey Shore. There are so many different kinds of people and places. Just as describing any part of the California coast with overarching statements would be difficult, there is no one generalized image to represent the entire area. We are not all guidos and that is by choice. Sure, my fellow New York-Italian boyfriend and I may have been the most convincing-looking guido couple at a themed party, and it may have come almost too easily, but when it comes down to it, that’s not us and that’s not a significant amount of the people in New Jersey either. My point is, next time you watch Jersey Shore, try to remember that there is more to it than that. There are so many different kinds of people there. It's just that MTV doesn’t find them interesting enough to air. So please, stop asking me what it's really like, and if you don’t like it, come at me bro.
Reach reporter Samantha Rullo here.
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