Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate |

Alison Berkley: The Princess’s Palate

Alison Berkley
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

I actually bought a copy of Rolling Stone magazine off the newsstand at Clark’s the other day because Snooki was on the cover.

Wait! Don’t go! I promise there will be a point, even for my highfalutin friends who don’t watch TV.

Apparently I’m not the only one who is fascinated with the 4-foot, 9-inch reality superstar of MTV “Jersey Shore” fame, the now world-famous party girl whose Double-D implants make her look as wide as she is tall. She’s pictured on the cover of Rolling Stone straddling a very phallic looking rocket and swinging a lasso. She’s clad in white daisy dukes, white cowboy boots with tassels, and a white button down that’s unbuttoned and tied up to reveal her gargantuan cleavage and pudgy belly.

The first thought that goes through my head is, “Jesus Christ, you’d think now that she got this famous, she’d at least want to lose a few pounds.”

My second thought: “Can’t she find someone who can do a better job with her hair extensions?”

For someone who has struggled with body image and other insecurities my whole life, I’m being pretty judgmental, don’t you think?

The real question is why this Chilean-born, Italian-American raised 23-year old is the hottest thing since skinny jeans (a look I frankly wouldn’t recommend for her). What I learned from the article is that “Jersey Shore” is the most popular show in the history of MTV. She wasn’t paid a dime for the first season but says she didn’t care about the money because she was just excited to be on TV.

She now makes a reported $30,000 per episode. She pulls in $25,000 for public appearances, has written a best-selling novel and endorsed a line of slippers. She is the youngest and most popular member of the crew. (I guess you can’t really call it a cast because these aren’t actors after all. They’re a bunch of fake-tanned, gym manufactured 20-something partiers who have decided to open their lives 24/7 to television cameras.)

These cameras are, according to Snooki, running all the time. According to the article, there are 35 cameras in fixed locations (including their bedrooms, the remote controlled lenses following their every move), 12 hand-held cameras, one big IMX camera and six DV cameras. For two months they give up their cell phones, Internet, and TV. The only time they are not on camera is when they’re in the shower.

Sounds more like some kind of demented psychological experiment than reality TV, but what’s even more disturbing is how popular it is.

Ryan loves it. When a new episode airs, he’s like, super excited. Sometimes he’ll watch the same episode more than twice.

In fact, when I posted about it on Facebook (“Ryan is watching the same episode of Jersey Shore over and over. What should I do?”) I got 12 responses in less than an hour, which is an all-time record. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a writer, but I get kind of competitive about the number of responses I get to my posts. I take the whole Status Update thing pretty seriously. I am not the one who is going to tell you what I ate for breakfast or how I went to the gym (though I will probably write about that later in my column). And if you’re one of those people who does post about inane stuff like that, I will hide you like there is no tomorrow and the coolest part about that is you will have no idea. It’s like screening phone calls but better.

My point is “Jersey Shore” is a pop-culture phenomenon that is almost too overly simplistic and two-dimensional to be analyzed. People say it’s like watching a car crash – it’s so grotesque you can’t keep your eyes off it.

I think it’s just mindless fun. I like watching it for the same reason I love to read tabloids in the bathtub: no thinking required.

But what’s with the fascination with Snooki in particular?

She’s not tall. She’s not thin. She’s not beautiful. She’s not even pretty (at least not by Aspen standards).

She is funny (though it’s unclear whether or not she’s trying to be). She’s kind of cute. She’s wild, but not in a way that’s too out there for us to be able to relate to. In fact, I’m pretty sure those of us living in Aspen can relate to it quite well. Does getting wasted and frequenting the same clubs with the same people night after night after night sound familiar?

The coolest thing about Snooki (and the thing that has me totally intrigued) is that she’s so totally unapologetic about who she is. Hell, I’d almost call her a feminist for her unabashed sexuality. She’ll admit to wanting sex (aka “smushing” or “getting it in”). Or talking about men the way men talk about women, breaking them down by size (their member and their muscles) and color (Italian, or “guido”). And while the boys she lives with do the same thing (ugly girls: Grenades), there’s something about hearing it come out of this little girl’s mouth that makes it funny, that makes it almost OK.

She’s not that interesting or that smart. She’s not educated (before JS fame she was in vocational school to become a vet tech). She’s not stylish or beautiful or glamorous or rich (though she’s cashing in on all the fame, at least temporarily). She’s not even talented (though she is a best-selling author, which is a heck of a lot more than I can say for myself).

Unlike the Sports Illustrated swimsuit models who mocked me from the very same shelf with their real tans and unreal bodies, Snooki is easy to live up to. Hell, at 5 feet and many thousands of feet above “the shore,” even I can do that.