Reality TV Heads Even Further South

Offensive casting call for “Party Down South” suggests we're in for more “Jersey Shore”-like stereotype-driven nonsense. Snooki, meet Bubba…

We can only hope the show somehow turns out to be less offensive than the casting notice.

Doron Ofir Casting, the firm that discovered Snooki (only one name necessary, thank you very much) and her “Jersey Shore” pals, reportedly has put out a casting call for a prospective new show called, “Party Down South.”

The company, via a Web page, is searching for a dozen of the “hottest and proudest Southerners… who can prove the party down South will rise again.”

We’re going to assume the best and guess the copywriter was just going for a turn of phrase, and didn’t realize the expression “the South will rise again,” has its roots as a rallying cry for folks who weren’t all that happy with the way the Civil War turned out.

But that doesn’t make the saying’s use any less noxious – and the full casting notice only bodes for another sleazy exploration of young adults acting out stereotypes as the cameras roll.

Wannabe cast members for “Party Down South” must be “keepin’ it country and want to party their a--es off on the sickest reality show during one All-American summer! If you like your chicken fried, drive a pickup truck and you’re full of American pride, we are looking for you!”

The casting search comes as a handful of other reality shows focusing on young adults from various ethnic groups reportedly are in the works – including programs about Russian-Americans, Asian-Americans and Persian-Americans.

At least MTV’s “The Real World” made a stab at diversity, even if people from different walks of life were thrust into an artificial living situation. The “Jersey Shore”-inspired trend tends to celebrate insularity.

But maybe we’re judging too harshly. The “Jersey Shore” cast members are expanding their horizons, bringing their fist-pumping brand of partying to Miami (they’re due back on MTV next month).

Snooki’s bold political stand against the tanning tax earned a tweet from Arizona Sen. John McCain, who perhaps had more important things than sunlamp fees to worry about when he was a young man. She became friends with Paris Hilton – and even reports she was exposed to some Southern culture herself during a recent stop in Savannah, GA.

“Eating fried pickles was a life-changing experience," Snooki declared.

That all of the above made news in the last week shows how “Jersey Shore” has further mutated a celebrity culture increasingly driven by people whose primary talent is a willingness to act foolishly for the camera. It’s even more disturbing when the foolishness involves playing to stereotypes.

“Jersey Shore” somehow made the slur “guido” acceptable in the media, with the cast members arguing against logic that the word represents a “lifetsyle.”  “Party Down South,” if it makes it onto TV, likely will restart the debate over whether the term “redneck” is derogatory or a badge of pride.

But with a concept like “Party Down South,” the real question is not whether the South will rise again, but how low can Reality TV go.

Hester is founding director of the award-winning, Miltie-media NY City 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. Follow him on Twitter.

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