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More to state than 'Jersey Shore'

New Jersey undoubtedly has some reasons to boast. We housed the nation's capital in Princeton for four months in 1783 and held the first Miss America pageant in 1921 at Atlantic City. New Jersey has been home to such personalities as Thomas Edison, Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi, Queen Latifah and - most importantly - the Jonas Brothers.

Of course we relish our ties to the legendary Jersey Devil and Six Flags Great Adventure, and we cling desperately to our state's claim to half of the historic Ellis Island. Last but not least, we have the prestigious honor of operating more diners than any other place in the world.

Unfortunately, there are also some things the Garden State would much rather forget. It was the site of the Hindenburg zeppelin crash, Lindbergh baby kidnapping and sadly, was the last of the Northern states to abolish slavery. I am also incredibly ashamed to say that we are the only state without an official state song.

But now depending on which side of the coin one falls, we have another reason to feel great pride or shame for New Jersey - the 'Jersey Shore.' Call it a soap opera, a circus or a train wreck, this show gained widespread attention - approximately 4 million viewers watched the finale alone.

Reactions to the MTV hit ranged from unconditional love to absolute hatred. Yet, whether you were enthralled, embarrassed or just slightly amused by the buzz surrounding the series, you were watching and you were not alone.

Kelly Ripa of 'Live with Regis and Kelly,' spent many Friday mornings rehashing her 'Jersey Shore' experience to her daytime television audience. Even 'Saturday Night Live' recognized the show's success, parodying one of the cast members during the segment 'Weekend Update.'

The attendees of my 13-year-old brother's bar mitzvah this weekend were unmistakably branded with the 'Jersey Shore' mark as well. I sat - torn between horror and laughter - as a circle of sixth and seventh graders paid homage to Pauly D, Vinnie and Ronnie by 'beating up the beat' on the dance floor. If the unique clubbing techniques have rubbed off on bar mitzvah-goers, who knows how far it could spread?

But now that the 'Jersey Shore' season has come to a close, some of us will be looking to get our weekly dose of fist pumping, bar brawls and GTL (gym, tan, laundry) elsewhere. Many are keeping the 'Jersey Shore' memories alive with themed events - SideBAR in Manhattan hosted a 'Jersey Shore' look-a-like contest last week, which was apparently considered a newsworthy story by the New York Daily News. It really seems as if no one is too eager to let 'Jersey Shore' go - including MTV, which is rumored to be negotiating with the cast to do a second season.

Realistically though, this 'Jersey Shore' fever is bound to die down sooner or later, but the legacy it leaves behind has the potential to be a substantial one - at least for our state. Never mind the fact that only two of the eight housemates hail from the Garden State, these television personalities have become the new faces of New Jersey.

Whereas New Jersey - 'the armpit of America' - may have once evoked the negative image of rows of factories emitting a vile smell; for some the moniker now indicates 'Snooki,' 'J-Woww' and Mike 'The Situation.'

Being that the show bears the name of our state, we are likely to endure a wide variety of 'Jersey Shore' jokes and stereotypes, we face the issue of increased Jersey profiling. The next time I am asked where I am from or where I go to school it would not surprise me if I were to suffer a barrage of sneers and criticism from some, and cheers and slaps on the back from others - all as a result of 'Jersey Shore.'

We can only hope that rather than experiencing a backlash, New Jersey might be elevated to the level of triumph and recognition enjoyed by its reality television counterparts. Maybe the 'Jersey Shore' success will bring in droves of fans and act as a catalyst for increasing tourism to New Jersey beaches.

Perhaps the State University of New Jersey can begin to reap some 'Jersey Shore' benefits as well. Who knows how many MTV enthusiasts might choose to pursue a college education in the Garden State due to its close proximity to their nearest and dearest Seaside Heights hotspots.

It may not be a probable scenario but if MTV can get 4 million people to watch a group of guys creeping, a couple bickering and week after week of nearly identical hot tub escapes, I suppose that anything is possible.

Larissa Klein is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in English and art history. Her column 'Definition of Insanity' runs on alternate Mondays.


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