"Guidos" on The Jersey Shore Offensive?


Before MTV’s The Jersey Shore premiered on December 3, 2009, many members of the Italian-American community protested the show’s airing due to the cast’s behavior, which was associated with their declarations of their “guido” lifestyle. The traditional definition of a guido is a “slang term for a working class or lower class urban Italian-American,” therefore the cast identifying themselves as “guidos” and “guidettes” automatically associated them with the Italian-American community. UNICO, a national organization for Italian-Americans, protested The Sopranos for reinforcing the Italian mob image and recently protested The Jersey Shore for reinforcing offensive stereotypes of “young, dumb, fist-pumping guys.” MTV even promoted the show by advertising its roommates as the “hottest, tannest, craziest guidos,” which brings up the sensitivity of the word itself. Many people protested the use of the word “guido” in advertisements for the show and MTV responded by dubbing the terms over, yet the word remained in the show as the cast members referred to themselves as “guidos” and “guidettes.” Some continued to argue that it is a derogatory and prejudiced term, comparable to derogatory terms of other ethnicities. But like many other epithets, the term is often self-ascribed by the youth of this culture as a form of self-empowerment, used most often in this case by Italian-American youth. Others still argue that this term has even evolved into a greater subculture and lifestyle that is no longer directed primarily towards Italian-Americans. This lifestyle may have gained appeal as the “guido” image was reinforced in movies such as Grease and Saturday Night Fever, attracting others who weren’t necessarily Italian-American. Determining the offensive or empowering intent behind the term "Guido" is complex due to its changing cultural context and recent appearance in the media. 

This is a montage of audio clips from interviews we collected gathering people's reactions to the representation of Italian-Americans in the media, especially to MTV's The Jersey Shore, which has a large following and is the most recent and relevant.
Brooks, Caryn. Italian-Americans and the G-Word: Embrace or Reject? Time, 12 Dec. 2009. Web. .
Hyman, Vicki. "'Jersey Shore' Offends Italian-American Group; President Protests Use of 'Guido' |." New Jersey Local News, Breaking News, Sports & Weather - NJ.com. 24 Nov. 2009. Web. .
Video Clip from MTV's Jersey Shore
Photos from MTV's Jersey Shore, Scarface, and Goodfellas