Posts Tagged ‘jersey shore’

‘Jersey Shore’ couple shows forgiveness isn’t easy

January 14, 2011

While Jersey Shore might seem like nothing more than a show dedicated to working out, tanning, doing laundry, and partying, I actually am quite fascinated by Sammi and Ronnie, the couple of the Jersey Shore house whose relationship dynamics never cease to amaze me. On last night’s episode, the couple showcased a common relationship problem — forgiveness.

For those of you who don’t watch Jersey Shore, let me provide a recap: the show started as a reality show based in Seaside Heights, N.J., where people often spend their summers along the Jersey shore. Eight people lived in the house (well, one left almost immediately, but anyway), and Sammi and Ronnie started a relationship.

Next season, the show moved to Miami. Sammi and Ronnie were in a limbo kind of state regarding their relationship, and Ronnie would go to the clubs with the guys and make out with a bunch of girls, then come home and snuggle up with Sammi and tell her how much he loved her. They got back together, he said he wasn’t with any other girls in Miami, J-Woww and Snooki left her an anonymous note saying he did, drama ensued.

Now for season three, everyone is back in Seaside and Sammi and Ronnie are secluding themselves from the group. Actually, Sammi is secluding herself because she is pissed at the other women in the house for hiding knowledge of  Ronnie cheating, and she is guilting Ronnie into being secluded with her by bringing up what happened in Miami. And now we arrive at the topic of forgiveness.

Sammi wants to be with Ronnie and “forgive” him, but she also wants to use his cheating/lying to her as leverage when she wants something. In the house, she feels alone — she doesn’t want to lose her only ally, Ronnie, so when he decides he wants to hang out with the group, she immediately goes for this ammo — the problem is that it’s unfair to use the past as ammo if you’ve already agreed to forgive and try to move past it.

“It’s got to get to a point where it’s either get over it or move on,” Ronnie told Sammi. And he has a point — of course Sammi can feel sad or betrayed or angry, but if she is going to give him a second chance, she can’t keep beating him over the head with all the mistakes he has made. It’s tough to forgive and rebuild trust, which is why if you’re constantly going to use those incidents as weapons, you need to re-evaluate whether you want the relationship to continue — a reconciliation shouldn’t be a battlefield.

This is a common problem in relationships, and a lot of it is about evening the score. People on the surface want to accept apologies and offer forgiveness, but deep-down what really makes people feel better is a revenge of sorts — “you made me feel terrible, and I won’t feel better until you feel equally as terrible.” Sammi probably thinks that accepting Ronnie’s apology is letting him off the hook too easily, so she wants him to repent to her by doing whatever she says and proving his loyalty to her by ignoring everyone else in the house.

Of course, this attitude just leads to an unhealthy cycle of resentment and anger — now Ronnie feels treated unfairly by Sammi, who rather than making an attempt at moving past her feelings of anger and betrayal is keeping them in storage for use against him whenever he crosses her again. So then Sammi continues to feel betrayed because Ronnie isn’t showing undying devotion, and nothing progresses because the relationship is stalled in mutual feelings of anger, dishonesty, and bitterness.

Rebuilding trust is hard — I don’t blame Sammi for feeling unsatisfied with a simple apology and not thinking Ronnie understands her pain — but nothing can be rebuilt if you’re still stuck in the debris of the past. There comes a point when you have to choose between sitting in the rubble or clearing it and rebuilding — because you can’t build anything strong or stable on a rocky foundation.

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MTV makes it tough for abortion special to reach viewers

December 30, 2010

If you haven’t seen the MTV half-hour documentary “No Easy Decision,” which follows 16 and Pregnant teen mom Markai through her decision to get an abortion, you’ll have to watch it online here — that’s because not only did MTV post the special at an 11:30 p.m. time slot on a Tuesday — well past the usual 16 and Pregnant 10 p.m. slot — but MTV won’t be airing the special again for at least another week, according to its own online TV schedule.

Initially I was going to write solely about the content of the special (read the live blog commentary here from Jessica Valenti, Shelby Knox, Jamia Wilson, Lynn Harris, and Steph Harold), but the lack of airtime caught my attention, and I think it sends a message about the extent of MTV’s progressiveness. This special is good. It’s important. It’s honest. It’s thought-provoking. And unfortunately, it’s only a half-hour long and runs not even one time again within the week of its premiere — because God knows we need to see a three-day marathon of Jersey Shore instead.

This documentary is not getting the airtime it deserves, and even though its being in existence is remarkable and a great step forward in furthering the abortion discussion, it can’t be ignored that MTV didn’t treat it equally in comparison with 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom, which have never shown a teen mom getting an abortion and only have shown two of the three options when it comes to pregnancy — raising the baby or putting it up for adoption.

I think the lateness of its airing, the fact that it aired once on a channel where every new episode of any show is repeatedly played over and over again (16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom always aired again right after ending at 11 p.m. and always again the next day, usually around 8 or 9 p.m.), and the shortness of the episode itself only added to a stereotype that the special was trying to combat — that women who get abortions must think it’s just an in-and-out procedure and don’t even really think about all their options.

Obviously, getting an abortion is a time-sensitive decision, as 37 states have a restriction on abortions after a certain point in the pregnancy. But the special itself was only 20 minutes long, with about 10 minutes reserved for Dr. Drew interviewing Markai and her boyfriend, and then Dr. Drew interviewing Katie and Natalia, two women who also had abortions and who shared their experiences.

“There are just no easy decisions,” Dr. Drew concluded at the end of the special, which is a very true statement, but one that wasn’t conveyed as well as it could have been with a special that was an hour long and didn’t rush through the thought process, steps, and emotions that Markai (or Katie or Natalia) experienced in deciding to get an abortion.

I wish that the discussion that Dr. Drew was having with the three women after the special could have lasted longer, as those women had so many important things to say in respect to the discussion on abortion, and so many things that only a woman who has gotten an abortion can truly express.

“People assume that if you are having an abortion you are denying the fact that you’re a parent, but it’s not, it’s not at all,” Katie said. “Nobody wants to have an abortion,” Markai said. “In retrospect I’m not ashamed at all, I’m proud of what I did,” Natalia said. These are the statements that get drowned out — these are the honest, real accounts and thoughts that enrich a discourse on abortion, and that change the stereotypes people have about the “kind of person” who gets an abortion, or what goes through someone’s head when she decides to have an abortion.

So despite MTV choosing to air reruns of Jersey Shore for three days straight instead of showing even one more time this special, the half-hour documentary still crams in a lot of important dialogue and information. Markai weighed all her options, called a clinic to get information on all the types of abortions and how they would affect her physically and emotionally (the live bloggers pointed out how (1) the counselor was extremely helpful and nice and (2) the clinic was legit), and looked to her boyfriend James and her mom for support and advice.

I also found it important that Markai’s story be highlighted for two reasons. One, someone obviously was not providing her with complete information about birth control, a sentiment repeated by Katie in the after-interview. Markai had no idea that the birth control immediately left her system if she was not up-to-date on her shots. Katie also said she wasn’t aware the side effects from her birth control — she would get physically ill and throw up the pill — would make it ineffective.

“I should’ve looked my birth control up on the Internet or something, you know, it’s my job to keep up with it,” Markai said. I completely disagree — you shouldn’t have to search the Internet for information on your birth control. You should ask your doctor, and your doctor should be providing information about side effects without you having to ask, just like any other medication.

Two, Markai got an abortion for the sake of her daughter. “If I didn’t have Za’karia I couldn’t do it, but I gotta think about my baby,” Markai said. I think this is especially necessary to highlight because Markai described her abortion as something she was sacrificing for her daughter — so that her and James could provide for their daughter without having to put her through the poverty, hunger, and sometimes neglect that both Markai and James experienced growing up. Anti-abortion activists want to call abortion selfish, though Markai proves it is quite the opposite, while also proving how complicated of a decision it is.

This topic gets me heated because these are important pieces of information that aren’t prevalent in the mainstream media. You don’t see resources for information on abortion (like here, here, or here); you don’t hear women who have had abortions as prominent voices in the discussion; and you don’t get a glimpse into the life of someone deciding to get an abortion as the decision is being made. Statistics and facts and figures aside, women struggle with the choice. There a multitude of reasons for making such a choice. And it’s important to listen to these stories and see that it’s not as easy as black and white, yes or no, right or wrong.

And because abortion is so complex, so sensitive a subject, so full of emotion, I think MTV did a real disservice to Markai, as well as Katie and Natalia, and the subject of abortion itself, because though it is one of the three main choices a pregnant woman can make, MTV seemingly makes its own judgment call on abortion by limiting how long the special is, when it is aired, and how little it is aired.

Again, it’s great the special aired, but people actually have to watch it in order to gain something from it, and that would mean MTV would actually have to air it more than once. Luckily it’s online, so again, go watch it.

Seacrest, Situation show no women are safe from body-bashing

August 27, 2010

It only took two hours of TV-watching yesterday to find two disturbing instances of men using women’s body issues against them in an argument. One was courtesy of Ryan Seacrest, the other courtesy of “The Situation” from MTV’s Jersey Shore. Both enhance female viewers’ body issues, as even two attractive TV personalities can’t escape scrutiny.

On E! News, hosts Ryan Seacrest and Giuliana Rancic were introducing some clip, and Giuliana’s intro line included some comment like, “Are her boobs big enough?” in response to a shot of the celebrity with large breasts. Ryan Seacrest replied, “At least she has some.” He then qualified with how he was “kidding” (I think), Giuliana laughed it off, and the world was right again.

Except that it wasn’t funny — in fact, as someone who saw the phrase “boobless” typed into calculators and shown to me more times while I was growing up than I can count, I can say that the awkward laughter Giuliana used to respond to Ryan’s offensive comment was quite familiar and uncomfortable. And sure, he qualified it with “just kidding,” but it doesn’t change the fact that he obviously had taken note of her small breast size, knew it was an insecurity of hers, and then on a broadcast to millions of people called her out on being jealous of celebrities with big boobs.

On Jersey Shore, Situation and Angelina were fighting about doing the dishes. Angelina didn’t want to do them, so Situation told her that she couldn’t be a part of the dinner he was cooking — and then added an addendum that she needed to hit the treadmill. Then, obviously seeing the mistake he made, he corrected himself and said she actually needed to use the elliptical instead.

Could this be typical banter between these two, and we don’t know of some inside joke? Sure. But do we see that on film? No. We just see this guy, obviously mad that Angelina isn’t pitching in around the house, saying that instead of eating dinner with them, she needs to go to the gym and lose some weight. I’m thinking, since they were arguing, that it’s not some inside joke — it’s him playing off her insecurities in hopes it will make her feel like shit.

So we’ve got these two TV shows, one of which (Jersey Shore) is the number one series this summer for people ages 12 to 34, that are watched by a lot of young people and a lot of women. Women watch these kinds of insults and see that (1) the woman laughs it off or ignores the comment without confronting the guy about it; (2) no matter how physically attractive a woman is, guys will still find a way to attack their body in order to feel some sense of power or accomplishment; and (3) it’s dangerously common.

Take a look at Giuliana, who despite having a smaller chest is rail thin and the perfect body size by Hollywood standards:

Take a look at Angelina, who has a large chest and curves but is not at all overweight in any way:

Body image insults are dangerous because women already feel the pressure to be thin and perfect by Hollywood standards every time they look at a cover of a magazine (despite its being Photoshopped and airbrushed to death), go to a movie, watch a TV show, or browse the Internet. We’re always picking apart our bodies, worried that men are too — and here are two beautiful women who can’t escape ridicule. Women watch these scenes and it only worsens body image issues, thinking, “If they can’t escape ridicule, what’s that say about me?”

And I wish these women would have directly confronted Ryan and Situation about their comments — of course, I’m sure if Giuliana had questioned all powerful Ryan Seacrest she would have lost her job or been severely reprimanded, opening a whole new can of worms about how power dynamics in the workplace leave instances of sexual harassment or even sexual assault unreported or ignored, simply because the ones making the comments or advances are the ones who wield the power, and women are forced to chose between standing up for themselves or keeping their jobs.

These two men were obviously playing on these women’s insecurities, and it sets a bad and dangerous example for viewers. It’s bad for men, too, who see these guys’ female body bashing on TV and think it’s the norm or think it’s OK because Ryan Seacrest and that guy from the Jersey Shore are both doing it.

I also wonder if some men — maybe Ryan and Situation included — think that especially when you make a joke or attack an attractive woman’s looks that it’s OK because she is attractive and (1) has high self-esteem and/or (2) knows she is attractive so won’t be fazed by negative comments. If so, I’d like to say that your perception of someone’s beauty is not necessarily the same as that person’s perception of herself (or himself), so those comments can still be hurtful and dangerous.