Burying “Jersey Shore”

“SNL” and Alyssa Milano fight back against crude reality series – with humor

Back when "Saturday Night Live" was in its toddler years, Dan Aykroyd puffed out his chest during a takeoff of "Saturday Night Fever" and declared, "This is the life! To be young, stupid and have no future. I love Brooklyn!"

It was a laugh line then. Today, just substitute "New Jersey" for "Brooklyn" and you've got the motto of "Jersey Shore," the decidedly unfunny MTV reality show offensive to many Italian Americans and just about anyone turned off by young people acting stupidly.

The best way to deal with this weekly, hour-long salute to tanning, partying and inarticulateness is not to watch. The second best way, given that the general public is drawn en masse to televised train wrecks, is to bury "Jersey Shore," not with outrage, but with humor.

Case in point: The latest "SNL" featured Bobby Moynihan in drag playing Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi, a young woman whose major claim to celebrity is getting slugged in the face by a drunken lout in a bar.

“I am queen of the guidettes!” Moynihan/Snooki proclaims, in a line that, sadly, could have come straight from "Jersey Shore."

A less outrageous, but more pointed parody is provided courtesy of actress Alyssa Milano in a video posted Monday on "Funny or Die," which is becoming to the Internet what "SNL" is to TV when it comes to quick-turnaround satire.

We watch the beautiful "Charmed" actress, via a time-lapsed camera, transform into a primped, painted princess out of "Jersey Shore" with a slather of fake tan makeup, hair extensions and Photoshop-enhanced boobs and butt. In just over a minute, she's turned into a manufactured commodity, a literal picture of vapidity that's taped above a bar urinal.                   

Milano doesn't utter a word during the video, which cleverly tears apart a show about as subtle as, well, a punch in the face.

“No wonder our perception of Jersey is distorted,” reads the title card at the end of the short, titled, “Alyssa Milano’s Evolution: Jersey Shore.”

Saturday Night Fever," of course, was a fictional tale, even if it captured some truth about Brooklyn in the late 1970s. But amid the glitz, dancing and music that ignited the disco explosion, the film ultimately proved a sad story of young lives at a premature dead end.

The movie offered a far more realistic portrayal than the alleged reality of "Jersey Shore," which chooses ratings-friendly exploitation over serious exploration.

But enough of the depressing stuff: check out Milano's video below, as well as then-and-now bits from "SNL" (and yes, that is O.J. Simpson in the 1978 "Samurai Night Fever" sketch):


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Hester is founding director of the award-winning, multi-media NYCity News Service at the City University of New York Graduate School of Journalism. He is the former City Editor of the New York Daily News, where he started as a reporter in 1992. Follow him on Twitter.

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