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“Guido” Culture: The Destabilization of Italian-American Identity on Jersey Shore


In this article, I explore the stereotypical representation of Italian-American identity on the MTV Networks reality television series Jersey Shore. Leaders of Italian-American organizations have voiced strong opposition to the show over concerns that the “guido” and “guidette” subculture it depicts will become synonymous, for viewers, with Italian-American identity at large. Drawing on feminist theories about gender performance as well as Italian cultural and media studies, I argue that the admittedly pejorative portrayal of Italian-American culture on Jersey Shore may nevertheless be read productively. The characterization of Guidos and Guidettes in the series suggests that the definition of Italian-American identity depends upon practices and variables that are available for appropriation. Consequently, Jersey Shore may be interpreted as challenging the possibility of a real—as opposed to constructed—Italian-American culture.

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