MTV’s anthropological foray into Italian-American stereotypes known as Jersey Shore has earned the ire of New Jersey officials. Gov. Chris Christie (R) deemed the bawdy reality series as a “negative” for his state, and the actual Jersey Shore borough administrator (formally the borough administrator of Seaside Heights) disowned the series all together.
But to the surprise of New Jersey residents, the series was recently awarded $420,000 in taxpayer funds to pay for production costs. The approval of the film credit “was part of the first round of film tax credits awarded” by the state Economic Development Authority since Christie suspended the program in 2010. Already concerned with Snooki’s cultural ambassadorship for the state, Democratic state Sen. Joe Vitale is urging Christie to veto the tax credit:
“It is disparaging to Italian Americans. He should veto it, ” said state Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex), a frequent critic of the show who supports the film tax credit but said the state should not reward a television show that paints the state in a negative light.
Christie’s office was not immediately available for comment.
As Center for Budget and Policy Priorities notes, this reality TV credit — in reality — will “offer little bang for the buck.” State film and TV credits often reward companies for production they would do anyway and the jobs created go to non-residents. Most studies show that the substantial cost to the taxpayers “far exceeds” the long-term economic benefits as virtually no long-term, stable jobs or income are created in-state.
Christie’s office noted that, barring pornographic content, the credit is awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis and without consideration of content. Christie’s office did however issue a statement “about Jersey Shore and its New Yorker cast” on Wednesday. “They are phonies and the show is a false portrayal of New Jersey and our shore communities.”
Indeed it appears the Jersey Shore will succeed in briefly bringing about a rare occurrence in politics: Bipartisanship. Sharing Vitale’s view, State Rep. Declan O’Scanlon (R) was a tad more blunt: “I can’t believe we are paying for fake tanning for ‘Snooki’ and ‘The Situation,’ and I am not even sure $420,000 covers that.”