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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Academia doesn’t include reality TV

    Despite everything there is to study in the world (the dependence on technology, the motivation behind the “occupy” movements and how we view race in the modern day for example), academia has somehow become jaded. Apparently, these things just don’t seem to be interesting enough to dissect and discuss anymore. Thus, we’re left with a legitimate “academic” dissection of the reality television show, “Jersey Shore.”

    At the UChicago Conference on Jersey Shore Studies this past Friday, a supposed “academic discussion” took place. A senior at the University of Chicago, David Showalter, organized and secured funding for the conference without any support from the university. Interestingly enough, the event was attended by an estimated couple hundred people throughout the day and was split into four sessions, according to The New York Times. Believe it or not, the conference is being called academic, thanks to the label of cultural studies.

    This conference had a multitude of presentations, the topics of which ranged from the show’s self-aware nature to how difficult it is to live their lifestyles of “GTL” (Gym-Tan-Laundry).

    I’m not quite sure what’s more upsetting, the fact that a conference of supposed academics sat around and talked about an obnoxious “reality” television show, or that there was actually someone who funded this. Now, I’m not entirely ignorant of the fact that there are people out there who legitimately enjoy the show — there are vapid people everywhere — but what I truly don’t understand is that there is someone willing to finance an event that amounts to nothing more than analyzing a false reality.

    You can trump up that there are interesting character dynamics on the show or that certain events have appealing outcomes on the people not involved with the show, but ultimately you’re breaking down a borderline fictional event that takes place on a channel so backwards it calls itself “music television” despite its lack of anything of the sort.

    Nonetheless, “Jersey Shore,” and most any reality show for that matter, is so diluted from reality and so disconnected with it, that what you’re seeing is such a tainted version that it can’t be called reality. Thus, your “academic discourse” is hardly academic at all.

    But wait, we analyze fictional literature, why we can’t analyze a fictional show? That would be a good counterpoint, if we were doing so from literary lenses perhaps, and if this was something of value to dissect. But to claim that what’s happening in the show is cultural is flat-out false. The only cultural phenomenon to study is how the show has become so popular. How is it this show is still running? Why are people watching characters run around drinking, dancing, having sex and fighting among themselves and others? What’s so interesting about that? It’s not as though it’s somehow taboo or out of the ordinary. If you’re interested in such a lifestyle why not just go experience it? All you need is a disgusting tan, some whey protein and whole lot of alcohol.

    Ultimately though, I have no clue why people watch this show. Perhaps that’s something to analyze rather than the “real” cultural events happening within the show. I’m simply dumbfounded as to why someone would organize, or fund, a conference on such a horrible footnote of American history. This is such an atrocity, it’s almost as though it’s a sign of the apocalypse. Yes, there were only four horsemen of the apocalypse, but maybe we should add a fifth just for good measure: conquest, war, famine, death … and Snooki.

    — Storm Byrd is the Perspectives editor. He can be reached at

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