PREACH IT! In defense of Ron Ron Juice and poundin' it out
"The first thing we do, let's kill all the 'guidos' -- not the people, of course; I'm talking about the awful anti-Italian stereotype peddled on 'Jersey Shore,'" an academic named Rosario Iaconis suggested in a recent opinion screed.
(Academic humor! It's high-larious! Not the people -- get it? Get it? Oh, God, my sides are gonna hurt so bad tomorrow. Hold on while I reapply my mascara. Oh, Lordy, that was a good one.)
The main point of all the scholarly huffing: That the word “guido” is a debasing slur that shouldn’t be tolerated, and everybody should just stop watching right now. And oh, the hair gel and the fake tans and the plastic nails and the acid-wash jeans and the -- the debasement of it all!
It's true. The word has been used as a horrible slur, for a very long time. But what academic sanctimony squad hasn’t seemed to remember is that outside entities aren’t the ones doing the labeling and the hair gelling, nor are they the ones proudly preparing the Ron Ron Juice and seeking every possible opportunity to “pound it out.”
The actual “guidos” -- and I put the term in quotes so that I might not be journalistically lynched alongside poor DJ Pauly D -- are the ones doing all that. They are using this traditional slur on themselves. And why, one might ask, would any self respecting person -- and despite Snooki’s boobalicious wardrobe, these "Jersey Shore" kids do not seem to suffer from a self-esteem problem -- do that to themselves? Why would they abuse themselves?
Unless they’re not?
In commandeering the term "guido" and proclaiming it as a badge of pride (as one Sammi put it in a gloriously vulgar announcement, “If you’re not a guido, get ... out of my face”), the kids from "Jersey Shore" are achieving two things: They’re telling the world they’re fine, and proud, the way they are, thanks, and they’re defusing a verbal bomb that has been hurled at them and their ancestors for generations. If I repurpose "guido" and turn it into just another term, the bullets have fallen out of that gun; sorry, bigots, you’ll need to find another way to make Italian Americans feel bad about themselves.
And given the utter lack of shame we’re seeing on "Jersey Shore," the bigots are going to have to try harder than ever.
The word-retooling tactic has been used for years and years; (I’ve been using it myself -- for years and years. And there are more slurs out there that are reclaimed than you may realize.) It was invented by academics, actually. It even has a name, but I won’t bore you with all that scholarly stuff.
That’s the job of the "Jersey Shore" haters.
-- Leslie Gornstein
Photos, from top: Jenni "J-Woww" Farley, left, Pauly "DJ Pauly D" Delvecchio, Mike "The Situation" Sorrentino and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi pose during rehearsals in L.A. on Dec. 11, 2009, for Spike TV's Video Game Awards 2009. And yeah, that actually is a gorilla eating dyed-red spaghetti at the Detroit Zoo. Wanna make something of it? Mm hmm. We thought you would. Credits, from top: Mark Davis / PictureGroup for Spike TV; Patricia Beck / Detroit Free Press.
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