Mary Ann Sorrentino's 2 Cents Worth

Opinions, Observations and Musings

Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
RI or FL depending on season, USA
June 19
Mary Ann is a columnist for the Keene (NH) Sentinel, the Providence Phoenix and other newspapers and has appeared on She was an Associated Press Award-winning radio talk host for 13 years and the Executive Director of Planned Parenthood of RI 1977-1987. Her most recent book, ABORTION - The A Word (Gadd Books) is available on line and in major bookstores.


SEPTEMBER 27, 2011 5:31PM

Grazie, Governor Chris Christie

Rate: 11 Flag



(Click on the Flag for an IMPORTANT  Message)

Good for New Jersey governor Chris Christie (with whom I seldom agree) for vetoing the proposal to give the TV show Jersey Shore a taxpayer-funded tax break. In axing the legislation, Christie said, appropriately:

“…as chief executive I am duty-bound to ensure that taxpayers are not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the State and its citizens."

“Misconceptions” doesn’t begin to describe how many Italian-Americans feel about this show and other television and movie projects like it over the years. It is about time a prominent government figure reinforced the movie NETWORK's sentiment that, “we’re mad as hell and and we're not going to take it any more” — let alone pay for anyone to insult us!

In an era when fairness, equality and accuracy should play a major role in the media, the offensiveness of Jersey Shore goes far beyond any concerns about political correctness. The idea that these inarticulate, foul-mouthed young people who personify what Italians call “cafoni” (coarse, ignorant and tasteless people) represent in any accurate way the average American of Italian background is ridiculous. While there are thousands of these types who worship at the altar of 20th century machismo, bigotry and stupidity, there are also millions more who have taken their rightful places in American society as revered and respected scholars, inventors, scientists and physicians, artists, lawmakers, judges, diplomats, businessmen, military heroes, great parents, hardworking and skilled workers, and dutiful children.

Italian-Americans should not be portrayed endlessly in the media as ignorant, tasteless dolts any more than Jews should to be stereotyped as avaricious and conniving sneaks, Blacks miscast as lazy and inferior slackers, or WASPS characterized as heartless, prejudiced snobs.

The Godfather trilogy, considered by people of all stripes as an artistic triumph tells the story of one sub-group in America’s criminal underworld. It also portrays the anguish of good people in the Italian community who are not and do not care to be part of that equation. Most importantly, it is fiction, not a “reality” show.

The popularity of Jersey Shore is due in part to the apathy of Italian-Americans who do not stand up for themselves and, by extension, for their forebears and grandchildren. Indeed, too many in this group watch Jersey Shore and even enjoy it at some misguided level. They apparently forget that if we belittle ourselves we have no credible defense against people intent on belittling us.

Jersey Shore is not “reality” it is the worst kind of bastardization of the Italian-American ethic which is far more complex than any of the people involved in this show can or do appreciate.

Chris Christie—son of an Italian mother—does understand this and has rightfully moved not to have taxpayer money pay for attacks on fellow Americans. For that he deserves, and has, the gratitude of all reasonable people, in his home state of New Jersey and beyond.


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I live in New Jersey...have all my life. I am of Italian descent. I have never watched even one minute of Jersey Shore...even though I go near to one of their sets when I visit Seaside Heights each weekend.

Most of the cast is from Staten Island...and from the few pictures I've seen are grotesque looking. That snookie person looks like a cartoon character. What anybody would see sexy about her is beyond me.

We have a way of dealing with stuff like that here in New Jersey. It involves strategically pointing at a bit of anatomy and saying, "I got yer Jersey Shore, right heah!"

We are cultured.
Bravo, Frank! I got it....
"Jersey Shore THIS!"
I had the misfortune of watching that show for a while...yuk.
Thanks for the reads and comments, Elijah and Sarah.
Frankly, I didn't even know that was a show and have never seen an episode. I did see The Newtwork and remember the impassioned "mad" speech of Finney, though. Good piece, Mary Ann. Supported and rated !
"The Network", sorry, my fingers slipped.
Thanks, Fusun...I thought at first Newt Gingrich might have his own NEWTWORK up there in Quebec where you are....
Thanks, Sheila, though I could never be a "reporter"..... Too much opinion in my blood. I always appreciate your taking the time to read and comment though.
Why would the network need a tax break regardless of content?

But I sympathize with the ethnic stereotype thing. Even tho we WASPS truly ARE heartless snobs. (And Bob & Doug McKenzie ARE Canadian...)
Good commentary, Mary Ann. You put it very well.

I too was reminded of "Network" and wondered what depths TV will go to get viewers. And while I often don't agree with Christie, it certainly was a good decision to refuse to participate in the dishonoring of not only Italian-Americans but a generation of young people in general.
So well argued, Mary Ann. You're right: people are always more complex that they are portrayed in the media, even the so-called reality shows. The danger with these depictions is that they create a kind of preformulated image of who certain groups of people are and what they are like. And the danger of that is that in real encounters they are expected to measure up to that limited standard. But, what can we really expect from such shows: stereotypes are easy to portray--no creativity required. To create richly-drawn characters takes writerly talent. Hooray for Christie--and for your enlightening post on this matter.
Great article-----I have never watched Jersey Shores or the Sopranos, and am very proud of my heritage.
I have never watched those shows either...intentionally...boycotting them (and their sponsors) is the only real way of protesting we have.
I have never watched those shows either...intentionally...boycotting them (and their sponsors) is the only real way of protesting we have.
Even a broken clock is correct twice a day. According to a recent New York Time article Snooki is from Poughkeepsie.
This -- outrageous as it is -- is only a infinitesimal slice of the free pie given out by legislators. The idiotic notion of 50 utterly independent states means that clever and soulless corporations can and do play one state against the other in a pointless race to the bottom. Whether it's industry tax breaks like this, right-to-work laws, or stadium financing the only winner in these deals are the corporations -- and the legislators who are bribed by them.

For the record, I've never seen Joisey Shore, nor any of the Housewives nor any other "reality" TV, which is simply a scam to cheat writers and actors out of a living. As for the portrayal of Italians in the media, be thankful you aren't black or Muslim.
I've always had a thing for Italian- American men. So much passion for life.

I was frankly appalled at JS because it is such a low class premise in general, and would be an insult to any ethnic group that it portrayed. As for Snooks, I think her attraction is the big bosoms and round heels. I've never heard anyone say they want to take her home to Mom. Or Dad, for that matter.
As my upcoming post will state (yes, I think I'm ready to come back to OS), no one in Italy that I have ever met looks like the Jersey Shore cast. As for behavior, I can't say, since I've never watched the show.

Tax breaks for allowing a locale to be the backdrop for some mass-media spectacle have always been problematic to my mind. How about a tax break for drive-by shootings? That would make about as much sense.

Great post as always. I will look forward to catching up.
O'sheepdog - Right about the clock, but you have to give the devil his due. I agree with Christie on practically nothing else, but I appreciate that he had the balls to tell these idiots to go pound sand.

Tom - Correct as usual....movies and TV will give away (our) ranch for ratings and advertising they get the tax break AND more profits to boot! What a country. (I bet Florence, Italy, on the other hand, made JS pay thru the nose to film there last summer.)

Phyllis - When you say, "Italian men" I assume you mean men fromItaly. The knock-offs stateside don't hold a candle in too many cases...

Paul- What took you so long? I have missed you! And, you are right---any resemblance between a real Italian from Italia and the idiots on Jersey Shore stops at the last names....and is really coincidental...
Sad confession- I've never known any men from Italy; they've all been knock offs. But fun, nonetheless.
Thanks for shedding some light on this bullshit, Maryann. I was born and bred and I still live in NJ. I'm proud of my state, its farms and Pine Barrens, Edison's workshop and Cape May. I remember the Steel Pier and the old Atlantic City. I was nine years old and rode the jitneys while my parents whooped it up at the Elks Convention. And I remember Seaside Park. Spent countless afternoons on the wide beach and crazy boardwalks when I should have been in school. We rented a house each summer facing Baenegat Bay, and the Tom's River Bridge, which I though was The Eigth Wonder of the World.

That was the Jersey Shore. It was one of a kind, unparalleled. Wild, crazy, sometimes lewd...but always user friendly. I have never seen this show either, and I think Christy is ruining our state, but I don't want to see anyone bastardize our state. I'll brush off the Turnpike jokes, and the stereotypes, but I won't have them shit on my state.
So... let's Occupy The Jersey Shore!!