Joining the denouncement issued by the multiple Italian-American anti-defamation groups over the portrayal of Italians in MTV’s Jersey Shore, is the New Jersey Italian American Legislative Caucus. In a letter sent Tuesday to the president of MTV parent owner Viacom, Philippe Dauman, the members of the New Jersey legislature complained that the show “promotes ethnic stereotypes of Italian Americans that are offensive and untrue.” Caucus chairman Joseph Vitale asked that the show be canceled immediately.
“Rather than profit off ethnic stereotypes and derogatory myths about Italian Americans, MTV and its parent company, Viacom, should do the socially responsible thing and pull the plug on Jersey Shore,” the letter read. “Not only is the program wildly offensive, but it diminishes the accomplishments and contributions of Italian Americans in New Jersey and across the nation.
The state lawmakers have asked advertisers to boycott the show, which features eight “tanned 20-somethings and their escapades in Seaside Heights, a popular New Jersey beach town.” Earlier this month, both Dell Computers and Domino’s Pizza pulled their advertising. In a statement Dell representatives wrote that the PC company will “block” its ads from appearing during future episodes of the show because it does not “condone or support ethnic bashing in any form.” However, Beenverified.com, a Web site that does background checks, jumped on board after hearing about the vacant slots. “We thought that it was a really great opportunity to get our message out there,” said a rep for the company. “It certainly fits into part of the audience we’re trying to reach. One of the things we talk about at our company is that background checks used to be really associated with major corporations and what we’re saying now is that everyone has the ability to run a background check.”
Representatives in the Jersey shore area have also distanced themselves from the controversial reality show. “The governing body wants it to be known that they did not solicit, promote or participate in the filming of this show,” said borough administrator John Camera.
He added: “Furthermore, the borough does not condone any discriminatory remarks against Italian Americans, domestic violence or the promiscuous and otherwise bad behavior portrayed on the show,” he said. “The people on the show are certainly not indicative of the majority of those who visit, and enjoy the Jersey shore and Seaside Heights every summer.”