by Brett Warner
Throughout the course of human history, men and women have done a lot of crazy things for love. Orlando Bloom caused the Trojan War, Cleopatra and Latin music sensation Marc Anthony both committed suicide, and I’ve sat through at least three episodes of my girlfriend’s favorite reality show, Jersey Shore.
The ongoing misadventures of carrot people Snooki, Pauly D, JWoww, The Situation, Vinny, Ronnie, and Sammi (my spell check just lost its friggin’ mind typing all of that) broke MTV records to become the highest viewed program in the cable network’s decreasingly illustrious history with 8.45 million viewers. Still, watching these unfathomably successful people preoccupy themselves with fighting, fucking, hot-tubbing, and other asinine, “who gives a shit?” circumstances that reality television twists into a botched, Frankenstein version of what the Greeks used to call drama always seems to engage that part of the brain that’ll start flashing sirens when you smoke a cigarette, huff a tube of industrial glue, or take a nap with your head inside the oven – I know this is really bad for me, but I’m going to do it anyway.
Eight and a half million is a lot of people, and if MTV’s Jersey Shore is proven to be mentally damaging, then I believe the American public has a right to know what they’re putting into their bodies every Thursday night. To get to the bottom of this, I bravely volunteered myself as the test subject for a harrowing experiment: I would complete multiple Intelligence Quotient tests before and then after viewing the debut season three episode of Jersey Shore, with the intention of discovering whether forty-two minutes of Guido’s Paradise has an actual, document-able affect on my mental facilities.
(Note: This experiment has not been approved or endorsed by any scientific board, organization, or school of thought. One twenty-four year-old male was harmed during the course of the procedure.)
Does watching MTV’s Jersey Shore have a detrimental affect on my intelligence?
Season three begins with the Jersey Shore crew returning to Seaside Heights, into the same Real World-esque house that every reality show seems to use. Obnoxious couple Ronnie and Sammi get to the house first, inexplicably choosing the second floor bedroom with three beds. (There’s another bedroom with two beds… um, duh?) JWoww arrives next and there’s plenty of leftover drama between her and Sammi, so she opts to room up with Snooki and new cast member Deena, a walking venereal disease whose only ambitions in life are variations of out-slutting everyone surrounding her. Vinnie and trapezoid-haired DJ Pauly D take the double bedroom, and poor Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino gets stuck upstairs with Sammi and Ronnie, who basically want nothing to do with any of the other characters. Vinnie cooks burgers and then wants to hook up with Deena in the hot tub, which pisses off Snooki, still upset that Vinnie fucked her friend Ryder at some point. Snooki then decides to hook up with Vinnie in the hot tub, who turns her down and subsequently pisses her off. Deena is blisteringly drunk/stupid, and takes The Situation to her room and starts getting naked. Mike does the open-mouth, cartoon wolf face numerous times for the camera. Everyone goes to sleep. Deena goes upstairs to “snuggle” with Mike (Guido code for “smush”) and Sammi starts laughing at her drunken/stupid ass. Deena wakes everybody up and starts talking shit in the kitchen. Ronnie comes downstairs to throw a fit, followed swiftly by Sammi. She and Deena have a shouting match, with The Situation and Pauly D sitting this one out. JWoww punches Sammi in the fucking face, and that’s episode one.
My brain feels significantly mushy having typed all of that, so I’m gonna go ahead and say yes, Jersey Shore will cause your brain to fall out.
Before watching the season three premiere, I took three online IQ tests from the following websites: iqtest.com, freeiqtest.com, and intelligencetest.com. All three tests presented a varying number of questions testing my ability to recognize patterns, complete mental math, spell, and think logically. (I partially contest the legitimacy of these IQ tests as there were no questions regarding Sonic Youth, FBI Special Agent Fox Mulder’s family tree, or the 1969 James Bond film On Her Majesty’s Secret Service starring the wrongfully lambasted George Lazenby.) After completing the tests and averaging all three scores, I watched “Back To The Shore” (3×01) on an HP Mini notebook with one overweight cat also in attendance. Immediately following the program, I once again took the same three online IQ tests, compiling and then averaging my post-Jersey Shore score.
Iqtest.com = 145
Freeiqtest.com = 110
Intelligencetest.com = 126
Pre-Jersey Shore Average = 127
Iqtest.com = 127
Freeiqtest = 102
Intelligencetest.com = 132
Post-Jersey Shore Average = 120
After watching a single episode of Jersey Shore, my average IQ decreased by seven points. Note that all three online Intelligence Quotient tests consisted of the exact same questions during each round and that my final scores decreased significantly in two of the three tests. These tests were taken earnest and truthfully and, thus, I must conclude that in this test subject, a single serving of Jersey Shore appears to have a significant negative affect on my memory, pattern recognition, and other problem solving skills.
Without forming any sort of moral judgments about Jersey Shore and the vapid, economically nurtured yet morally deplorable lifestyle it glorifies (I think it’s hardly a coincidence that this and 16 and Pregnant are MTV’s most-watched programs), I believe it’s safe to say that the show and other reality programs like it are the entertainment equivalent of a Cinnabon cinnamon roll: round, brown, and often covered in hot white liquid. Kidding! They’re cheap and they’re awful and they’re fun, but you can’t have it all of the time and expect to be a well-adjusted human being. Networks like MTV keep making shows like Jersey Shore because they cost nothing and we keep gobbling it up. Cheaper shows with higher advertising rates? Duh. In the same way you’d brush your teeth after a bowl of ice cream, I think it would be a good habit to read something arch and pretentious after each hour of Jersey Shore, that way you can have your cake and pompously judge it, too!
As much as I’d love to be one in 8.45 million, I think I will wait for a safer, healthier alternative to Jersey Shore. It makes my brain hurt and depletes my already dismal faith in humanity. I think I’ll stop talking about it now, though, because my girlfriend is sure to read this and then I’m going to have a real situation.