We'll offer a grudging tip of the $22.90 designer baseball cap to Abercrombie & Fitch for reaping oodles of free publicity by offering to pay The Situation to stop wearing its clothes on "Jersey Shore."
The no-brainer of a PR stunt, built to capitalize on the hoopla surrounding a mindless show, actually got us thinking. Our modest proposal: Let's take A & F's gimmick to the next step and chip in to pay the cast, crew and MTV to stop making "Jersey Shore."
The "Jersey Shore" fund would need to raise big bucks. The Hollywood Reporter estimates The Situation made $5 million last year by effectively exploiting his pseudo celebrity. Viacom, the parent company of MTV, just had a great quarter, making $583 million without the benefit of fresh "Jersey Shore" installments.
Whatever price the "Jersey Shore" crew demands to cease and desist, it would be a small one to pay to end what's mutated into a sur-reality show celebrating foolishness via an offensive ethnic stereotype.
Many of us believed (or at least hoped) the novelty would have worn off by now. But the walking, grunting and whining human cartoons' popularity is only growing (the recent Season 4 premiere drew 8.8 million viewers). They're also turning up seemingly everywhere – even in The Wall Street Journal, where Snooki offered some apocalypse-tinged economic prognostication. “The economy is really scary because 2012 is coming,” she said. “I feel like the first thing that’s going to happen… is a blackout and then everyone freaks out and the world goes crazy.”
In as much as the huge success of "Jersey Shore" is a sign of a world gone mad (if not necessarily the Apocalypse), we'll hand it to Snooki for extolling the value of saving for a rainy non-beach day: "I haven’t really spent on anything yet. I’m saving up it up for when this is all over, with ‘Jersey Shore’ and the spin-off, I have enough money to just take care of my family," she told The Journal.
Sounds like a gal who, for the right money, might be willing to leave a show that costs viewers their dignity.
Sadly, there would be a long line of others eager to replace Snooki and friends – including some unlikely suspects. Check out these secret audition tapes recently unearthed by Conan O'Brien as you mull the price of life on the "Jersey Shore":
Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992.