MTV: Please just get it over with already and do a season of “Jersey Shore” here in Vegas.
DJ Pauly D has a regular gig at the Palms, recent editions of Las Vegas Weekly have advertised club appearances by The Situation and JWoww (is that a new face or just Photoshop?), and Snooki is all over town lately, at Pure and Wet Republic.
Why anyone would want to go to a club because there are some cut-rate, 99-Cent-Store celebrities pumping their fists in a VIP section is beyond me, but regardless, it’s happening. I can feel it, like in 2002, when I knew war with Iraq was coming when I read the leaked WMD scare stories on the front pages of The New York Times and The Washington Post.
OK, not the best analogy, but you get my drift.
My best guess is that this will happen at the Hard Rock or the Palms, especially given that Pauly has his DJ gig at the latter but who knows, maybe a dark horse will make a play for the publicity, perhaps Caesars or Trump or Tropicana.
I don’t intend this to be some elitist lament about them coming here. I’ll admit to having dialed them up on Netflix, junk food at my side, junk food in my eyes. I love to loathe Sammi Sweetheart’s manipulations of Ronnie and The Situation’s presumptuous tyranny of his housemates. While at Rehoboth Beach, which is Delaware’s minor league version of the Jersey Shore, I almost bought a T-shirt this summer that read, “Come at me bro!”
And I’m partial to the Jersey Shore, where my parents were living nine months before I was born. The East Coast beaches, with their bumper cars and salt water taffy — the ocean almost an afterthought to the whole experience — will always feel like home.
It will be fun tracking the Jersey movements around Las Vegas, like tagged chimpanzees, and you know there will be one or more incidents involving Metro — a shooting? — and perhaps a rival gang from Orange County.
In a way, this is sort of their true home, the place where illusion and reality go hand-in-hand, where anti-intellectualism is, for some, a badge of honor (with apologies to the college graduate and least hyped and most normal character Vinny). And of course Las Vegas is where gym-tan-laundry and fake breasts and poofy hair are theological precepts for so many. (I imagine the Las Vegas Athletic Club on Eastern and the beltway could be a great place to find extras.)
So yes, let’s welcome them. But let’s at least try to wink and nod to the rest of the country that we’re in on the joke, that we welcome the suckers but don’t count ourselves among them.
We here in Las Vegas know the explosion of vapid, talentless celebrity, and we know it isn’t new. As the sociologist Daniel Boorstin wrote back in the 1960s, a celebrity is someone who is “famous for being famous.” I was reminded of this by Leo Braudy, the USC professor and author of the authoritative history of fame, “The Frenzy of Renown: Fame and Its History,” who pointed to Zsa Zsa Gabor as the historical analog to Snooki.
Braudy acknowledged, however, that reality TV and the Internet had increased the quantity of this dreck. And, he noted the difference from past and present exemplified by Las Vegas: “It’s an interesting thing to see the decline, from the Rat Pack to ‘Jersey Shore,’ which is, in a certain way, a degraded imitation.”
Indeed, the Rat Pack was the “Jersey Shore” of its time. Except if you listen to Sinatra’s “In the Wee Small Hours,” you feel a longing and sadness that is universal and timeless. Whereas “Jersey Shore” cast members will no doubt be on a celebrity rehab show by the time we have our first Mormon president.
So bring on “Jersey Shore,” but let’s go find the new Rat Pack, too. And by that I don’t mean an imitation of the Rat Pack. I mean great art and entertainment. Our superstar DJs and “Absinthe” and its parody of the self-seriousness qualify.
Las Vegas is about more than just famous orange faces from Jersey. And Orange County.
We are, aren’t we?
A version of this column first appeared in Las Vegas Weekly.