Thoughts on Florence’s latest ‘Situation’
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Thoughts on Florence’s latest ‘Situation’

Spray tans, fist-pumping and blowouts are not typically associated with Florence or its inhabitants. And if you thought the MTV TRL Awards in Santa Croce was contradiction enough, brace yourselves. As you may already know, throughout May and June, the American reality show Jersey Shore will converge on Florence

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Thu 05 May 2011 12:00 AM

Spray tans,
fist-pumping and blowouts are not typically associated with Florence
or its inhabitants. And if you thought the MTV TRL Awards in Santa
Croce was contradiction enough, brace yourselves. As you may already
know, throughout May and June, the American reality show Jersey
Shore will converge on Florence to
shoot its fourth season. The infamous cast mates (seemingly named
after comic-book mafiosos), Nicole ‘Snooki’ Polizzi, Jenni
‘Jwoww,’ DJ Pauly D, Mike ‘The Situation,’ Vinny, Deena,
Ronnie and Sammi ‘Sweetheart’ are due to arrive May 9 to shoot
here for 45 days.

 

The
MTV reality show, which follows these thirsty youngsters who live
together, punch each other (but sometimes love each other) and party,
has been widely criticized in America for negatively stereotyping
Italian-Americans and glorifying those reckless activities that only
the daring young can get away with, namely excessive drinking,
partying, and simply behaving stupidly. Not surprisingly, Florence is
panicking about their imminent arrival. In a town that has been
fighting against foreign students’ propensity towards ‘getting
wasted and partying’ (see ‘Florence: All fun and drinks?’ in TF
123), it is no secret that Florence is weary of the very behavior
that Jersey Shore glorifies and wary of the public ruckus that these ‘Guidos’ and
‘Guidettes’ will likely make. So, the arrival of this pop culture
phenomenon is ironic.

 

While Florence mayor
Matteo Renzi gave permission for the crew to film here he did give
the crew a set of grounds rules. Along with not shooting scenes in
any historic buildings in Florence, he handed down the following
‘commandments’:

 

– Florence shall not be
portrayed as a drinking town.- The show cannot tape in
local nightclubs, bars or any place that promotes the consumption of
alcohol.- The cast cannot be filmed
drinking in public.- The show should be filmed
in a manner that promotes Italy (not Americans visiting Italy) and
feature its culture and traditional food.- The cast must interact
with authentic Italians in authentic cultural settings.

 

When TF asked MTV
for a comment about the mayor’s rules, we received the following:
‘We’re excited to confirm that season four of Jersey
Shore will film in Florence and thank
the city for the opportunity to shoot in one of the most beautiful
locations in the world.’

 

The official blog,
however, gives another response to Renzi’s rules: ‘So basically,
the cast will chill 24/7 in their appartamento,
making brief scavenger hunts on the outside to purchase booze and
lure home some non-grenadal booty. Or they’ll just break all the
rules. The latter seems pretty likely, and having spent some time in
Florence during the college years, we’ve prepared an addendum to
the mayor’s list in hopes the cast will take heed. There are lots
of manly men in Italy, and it will be an unfortunate situation if
“The Situation” and his fam say/do/wear the wrong thing (which
is, again, pretty likely).’ (‘Grenades’ are ugly girls; go to
http://remotecontrol.mtv.com/category/shows/jersey_shore/ to read the rules they’ve set for themselves while filming in
Italy.)

 

So, will MTV obey
Renzi’s rules? I suspect that Snooki and friends will be hosting a
lot of house parties, in what will presumably be their giant
Florentine villa. As a fellow young Italian-American, I do not
approve of the stereotype that Jersey
Shore promotes. However, at the same
time, I think the mayor’s rules are slightly ridiculous. I have a feeling that MTV is going to be very
creative in interpreting the rules, which may actually make ‘the
situation’ (no pun intended) worse.

 

Nearly every
American university, local and foreign student had something to say
on the matter. Here’s the word on
the street.

 

Debora Spini,
Academic Internship Program Coordinator, Syracuse University in
Florence:
The reality show Jersey
Shore coming to Florence would be just
the opposite, a non-reality show. It would reinforce the already
existing stereotypes about young American students drinking and
partying in foreign cities, such as Florence. It is important to
understand that the excessive drinking is not the reality of American
universities in town. These students are the people who are drawing
and creating art, volunteering in Italian schools and cleaning the
city of Florence. It would be frustrating if all of these fantastic
experiences would be lost by the presence of Jersey
Shore. It is true that some American
students cannot handle Florentine nightlife, but this is a minority.
It is important that Florence also defends its image as a city of art
and culture.

 

A Pistoia native: Locals think that the show will destroy the good name of Florence,
changing Florence from an art city to a drinking city. Personally, I
do not agree with them. I know it seems strange, but I am in favor of
their arrival. What they will be doing, maybe without thinking of it,
is providing publicity to the city of Florence. Publicity is always
good. The cast will also bring a lot of money to the city. Teenagers
and young people in Florence will be going out a lot more to see them
and so they will be going to pubs and clubs and will be willing to
pay. I also think that clubs may charge more if Jersey
Shore cast mates are present because
they are kind of ‘celebrities.’ People will also come from other
cities to see them.

 

Sam Wechsler, a
graduate student in Florence, originally from Rochester, New York:
Having witnessed first hand the behavior of these American college
students, I can say it is not that much different from that of the
Jersey Shore’s
cast. One merely needs to walk through Santa Croce after 11pm to bear
witness to these events. At a time in America when roughly 20 percent
of citizens are attending college, of which less than one percent are
studying abroad, and of that less than once percent, 60 percent are
women, I feel it is time that others, including the cast of Jersey
Shore, perhaps be allowed to take in
the culture of Florence for an experience that may change their
lives. I’m reminded of a quote by Henry Miller, in which he
reflected, ‘One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of
seeing things.’

 

 

Aimee Bateas,
is originally from West Hartford, CT and graduated from James Madison
University in Harrisonburg, VA in May 2010. She earned a Bachelor of
Arts in Public Relations. She is currently pursuing her master’s
degree in European Union Policy Studies in Florence through James
Madison University.

 

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