Snooki and the Situation embody Italian culture about as much as Mama Celeste does. That has Italian Americans worried about what will their cousins in the Motherland will think.
Robert Pellegrino, President of the Italian American Political Coalition, suggested that the majority of Americans of Italian descent don’t actually pump their fists constantly, drink beer like water, or wear dresses the size of belts. As he told Fox News: “Whether filmed in Italy or on the moon, the characters of Jersey Shore do not reflect a realistic image of the Italian American Community.”
(More on TIME.com: See the top 10 reality TV moments of 2010.)
Others say that even non-Italian-Americans should worry about the foul-mouthed cast going abroad. “People used to go to the circus to see the freak show – that is what this will be,” a representative of the Italian-American interest group UNICO told TMZ. “It will not only hurt Italians but all Americans … their outrageous, reprehensible behavior will make us look like buffoons and bimbos.”
Of course, plenty of Americans abroad—of Italian stock or otherwise—already do a good job of that. Issuing statements and expressing outrage merely draws more attention to show—and gives reality tv way more credit than it deserves. As Gawker points out, the cast of the Real Housewives of New Jersey caused plenty of scenes during their sojourn to Italy (like when Jacqueline got upset because the gondoliers in Venice didn’t sing to her, even though the ones at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas did). Italian Americans haven’t exactly suffered in the aftermath.
And Italy, too, has plenty of elements that could be deemed undesirable—like embattled Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi who, facing accusations that he paid an underage prostitute, recently phoned a television presenter and described his show as “a whorehouse.” In other ways, Snooki & Co. might feel more at home in Italy than in Jersey. As a travel agent told Fox: “Most of the beaches in Italy are topless.” (via Fox News)