Sisterhood Blog

Why a JAP-y ‘Jersey Shore’ Makes Me So Nervous

By Elissa Strauss

  • Print
  • Share Share

I think many of us saw this coming. Really, how many other cultural clichés could lend themselves as easily to the outrageousness and garishness displayed by the self-proclaimed “guidos” and “guidettes” on the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore”? The “Jewish American Princesses” just had to be next.

And now they are. Radar Online recently got their hands on a casting call for a “company looking for ‘Super Jappy’ groups of friends! Women ages 21–45 are able to apply for this reality show. … Gone are the days when being a JAP was a bad thing Jewish American Princesses are proud. … Think Jersey Shore meets Real Housewives of New Jersey – but classier. We want beautiful, fun, outspoken groups of Jewish American Women.”

The production company is searching for Long Island-based talent, and has not yet been picked up by a network. If the concept is sold, are we Jewish women ready for the Jewish Snookis and JWowws of the world to bring — just a guess — their designer purses, nasal voices, and elaborate and expensive, beauty rituals into the homes across America?

While I am more tolerant than some about playing around with cultural stereotypes (see my defense of the term “Coastie” used at Midwestern college campuses, here), I am wary of this potential show.

The reason I liked term Coastie was precisely because it is something that could be used instead of JAP. Coastie refers to origin, and to some degree, socioeconomics, making the differences more about geography, money and culture than religion. With JAP, the vulgarity and religion are one.

I don’t want to speak for the Italian-American community, and understand that a number of Italian-American groups took issue with the portrayals on “Jersey Shore.” But I do think it is safe to say that the guido stereotypes are less based in reality than those associated with the JAP. We all know that “Jersey Shore” is a bit forced, a bit artificial. For starters, some of them are not actually Italian, and only one is from New Jersey. Also much of their so-called “guidoness” was formed by MTV, and not in the communities where they come from.

The JAP show, I fear, will be a little more, well, accurate. And this is where we will have a problem. Of course, there are many more non-JAP-y Jewish women than there are JAP-y Jewish women But there are also lots of Jewish women who fall into the category of materialistic and entitled. (There are also more than a few non-Jewish women who fall under this category.) I grew up with them in Los Angeles, met them at college in the Midwest, and run into them here in New York. This is not to say they are necessarily bad people or one-dimensional. After all, many of those with the biggest diamond rings and the most demanding at restaurants are often also accomplished professionals, loyal friends and dedicated mothers. Still, they don’t exactly defy stereotypes.

I have never self-identified as a JAP — in fact, in high school and college I avoided wearing the color black and went vegan, placing virtue above Vuitton. But now, at age 30, I wear Prada, order steak frites, and am comfortable occasionally enjoying the finer things as brought to me by my above-average-earner father. I feel like I am not alone in just starting to think through the JAP identity. In some ways, we have just begun to consider it from within. And this includes the good parts — the big mouth, the female “pushiness” — as well as the more materialistic ones.

But a cartoonish version of the JAP, it just feels too soon.

Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Jersey Shore, JAP, Jewish American Princess

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.

Find us on Facebook!
  • The rose petals have settled, and Andi has made her (Jewish?) choice. We look back on the #Bachelorette finale:
  • "Despite the great pain and sadness surrounding a captured soldier, this should not shape the face of this particular conflict – not in making concessions and not in negotiations, not in sobering assessments of this operation’s achievements or the need to either retreat or move forward." Do you agree?
  • Why genocide is always wrong, period. And the fact that some are talking about it shows just how much damage the war in Gaza has already done.
  • Construction workers found a 75-year-old deli sign behind a closing Harlem bodega earlier this month. Should it be preserved?
  • "The painful irony in Israel’s current dilemma is that it has been here before." Read J.J. Goldberg's latest analysis of the conflict:
  • Law professor Dan Markel waited a shocking 19 minutes for an ambulance as he lay dying after being ambushed in his driveway. Read the stunning 911 transcript as neighbor pleaded for help.
  • Happy birthday to the Boy Who Lived! July 31 marks the day that Harry Potter — and his creator, J.K. Rowling — first entered the world. Harry is a loyal Gryffindorian, a matchless wizard, a native Parseltongue speaker, and…a Jew?
  • "Orwell would side with Israel for building a flourishing democracy, rather than Hamas, which imposed a floundering dictatorship. He would applaud the IDF, which warns civilians before bombing them in a justified war, not Hamas terrorists who cower behind their own civilians, target neighboring civilians, and planned to swarm civilian settlements on the Jewish New Year." Read Gil Troy's response to Daniel May's opinion piece:
  • "My dear Penelope, when you accuse Israel of committing 'genocide,' do you actually know what you are talking about?"
  • What's for #Shabbat dinner? Try Molly Yeh's coconut quinoa with dates and nuts. Recipe here:
  • Can animals suffer from PTSD?
  • Is anti-Zionism the new anti-Semitism?
  • "I thought I was the only Jew on a Harley Davidson, but I was wrong." — Gil Paul, member of the Hillel's Angels.
  • “This is a dangerous region, even for people who don’t live there and say, merely express the mildest of concern about the humanitarian tragedy of civilians who have nothing to do with the warring factions, only to catch a rash of *** (bleeped) from everyone who went to your bar mitzvah! Statute of limitations! Look, a $50 savings bond does not buy you a lifetime of criticism.”
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?

We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.