Not everyone from the Jersey Shore is a guido or guidette. New Jersey-native students dispel the greased-up rumors.
From people using terms like “GTL” in everyday conversation to fist pumping becoming the new Soulja Boy dance, it seems Jersey Shore has infiltrated every nook and cranny of day-to-day life. But some New Jersey-native students are not so happy about it.
“I just want people to know that those people on the show, they’re not us,” sophomore dance major Cassandra Cotta said.
Upon meeting Cotta, a self-proclaimed beach girl from Point Pleasant Borough, N.J., one may be slightly disappointed. Not because she is at all lacking in intelligence, cleanliness or an ability to form complete sentences, but for exactly the opposite reason.
Although Cotta grew up at the Jersey Shore, only a few miles away from Seaside Heights of MTV fame, she doesn’t have a fake tan, hair pouf or ripped clothing. And, she seems fine with that.
“[The people] on the show are the tourists, who we [natives] can’t stand. I’m from a small, tight knit community. We don’t act like the people on that show. My friends and I go to the boardwalk at night in the summer specifically to make fun of those people,” Cotta said, “We don’t go out to dinner dressed like that, with the shirts and the low cut … you know.”
Anyone who has seen the show knows what she means. The basic premise of the show was a mixture of The Real World and True Life: I’m a Guido. The eight members of the shore house family work at a novelty T-shirt and booty shorts shop on the boardwalk by day. At night, they like to clean up – gel and blow out their hair into quaffs that defy the laws of physics, pump some iron, eat some lasagna and spray on more cologne than Pepé Le Pew – and hit the clubs. The show’s entertainment value is invested in the alcohol-fueled drama that inevitably ensues.
New Jersey resident Joseph Russo, a film and media arts and English major, said: “I think the show is extraordinarily entertaining. A lot of people were quick to say ‘Oh, that show is garbage,’ and swore they would not watch it, especially my friends from [New Jersey] because they thought it was going to be a typical MTV reality show, only this time even worse because it would perpetuate false stereotypes about [New Jersey].”
These stereotypes seem to be a concern for Cotta.
“I think it’s really sad. We get overlooked. I’ve always thought New Jersey has gotten so jipped, and now this is our biggest representation,” she said.
Brian Gallagher, a sophomore painting major from Atlantic City, N.J., said that while he and many others thought the show was funny, “it can’t be good for Jersey.”
As for Russo’s take on the show, Cotta was quick to discount it, saying he himself was a “borderline Benny,” an acronym that stands for Bayonne, Elizabeth, Newark and New York. In truth, Russo grew up in North Brunswick, N.J., a suburb of central Jersey, located about an hour from the closest shore town. His family owned a house in Seaside Heights, though, where they vacationed frequently during the summer.
“A Benny is the worst kind of tourist,” explained Cotta, who has a bumper sticker on her car that says “BGH,” meaning “Benny go home.”
This derogatory word is one of the Jersey Shore residents’ highest insults, second only to everyone’s favorite – “guido.”
Russo, however, didn’t seem too bothered by the accusation. He said he accepted the title to an extent.
“Yeah, there’s some truth to that,” he said. “There’s definitely a sort of attitude to North Jersey [and] New York. And I’m right on the border of Central Jersey-North Jersey. Some people in my area don’t really have that Benny attitude or culture, but I guess I may be part of that group because my dad’s family is from the Bronx, and my mom works in North Jersey.
“We definitely have a bit of a North Jersey accent. It’s not really strong, but it is there. And there are a lot of people in my town who have come from New York, or who have parents who work in New York, and they are like me. I guess we would be Bennys in the eyes of a Jersey Shore resident. I also think that we’re pretty pleasant and personable.”
And as to the ever popular “guido” term, he also admitted that many of the students he went to high school with easily fit into that category, and he may have picked up a habit or two from them.
“I’ve been gelling my hair up since the seventh grade,” he said.
It is certainly interesting how pervasive the show has been. Many students have hosted or attended Jersey shore themed parties and enjoyed following the show, watching with friends and talking about it. Although according to Temple’s own Jersey Shore representatives, they are not a true depiction of the Jersey Shore they know and love.
“A lot of acting went into the show,” Gallagher said.
“Those people do exist, and you run into them more than you want to, but it’s not a representation of the locals,” Cotta added.
So, it seems that if people want to find the Jersey Shore crowd, they’re going to have to travel a bit farther than their own backyard.
“Yeah, people have called me C-Woww when they found out I was from New Jersey,” Cotta said. “That’s not cool. It’s not okay.”
Emily Heller can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.