“Jersey Shore” — Florentine Parades & Plagues of a Different Era
“Oh my God! Oh my God! Like, oh my God!” Carrot orange tans, muscle tees, cross necklaces and East coast accents — any American could easily identify these as the “guidos” and “guidettes” of MTV’s reality show “Jersey Shore.” For Italians and Florence, these characters, if even recognized at all, signify more than mere comic entertainment.
Threatening Florence with unleashed chaos, fights and drunken behavior, the “Jersey Shore” cast landed in Florence, Italy May 13, 2011 to film season four. It is this low entertainment level that draws viewership.
“It’s like watching a train wreck or car accident; I can’t look away,” says American Florence resident.
While MTV viewers may swarm to see the “when in Rome” philosophy personified, Florence instated strict rules to avoid a cultural collapse.
According to the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, Mayor of Florence Matteo Renzi specified guidelines regarding the filming, the portrayal of Florence and the cast’s public behavior, prior to their arrival. Despite regulations that limit the “Jersey Shore’s” underlying party theme, Renzi could not close the show’s curtain. They have arrived!
A twenty-two year old American sighted the “Jersey Shore” cast while exploring Florence with a group of Italians and Austrians. She describes the public’s reaction to the recent celebrity sighting near the Duomo.
“It looked like a parade was coming down the street. My Aussie friends grabbed their cameras. The Italian guys could care less and did not know what was going on.”
Amidst a storm of American’s and tourists’ pulsating camera flashes and gossip about the show’s stupidity, most Italians appear uninformed and disinterested in the “Jersey Shore,” or know only what they have read in online Florentine news sites.
“None of my friends or colleagues in Italy have ever heard of the show. Most do not even watch much MTV,” says a twenty-one year old Florentine male university student.
The few Italians that do follow the “Jersey Shore” relish the show’s care free style. Italian youth anticipate the portrayal of Italian Americans and some even plan to visit O’Vesuvio Pizzeria where the cast will work.
“VIPs in Florence don’t happen every day,” a 16 year old Italian girl excitedly remarks.
So, what does the arrival of the “Jersey Shore” bring to Florence and Florentines? It is not the debate over the offensive term “guido.”
“There are tamarri (guidos) in Italy too,” laughs a 16-year-old Italian “Jersey Shore” fan.
“Jersey Shore” ushers in a new decade of tourism for Florence, characterized by Ben & Jerry ice cream shops, the echoes of flips flops kissing the cobblestone streets, and the murmurs of tourists asking the barman for the nearest Starbucks, while highlight the Florence night scene.
The filming of this reality show in Florence mirrors the internationalization and evolving culture of Florence. The opening doors benefit Florence financially but at the risk of losing its cultural and artistic history to that of drinking and clubbing.
According to one source, “The show could promote Florence, but also to the ‘wrong’ types of people.”
From Renaissance and Medieval parades to celebrity outings, from the Bubonic plague to drinking and unruly students, Florence continuously develops into a modern age of trials and celebrations. It is yet to be determined what the “Jersey Shore’s” presence will be for Florence.