"The program certainly depicts the Jersey Shore as a culturally vapid place and doesn't make it appealing to anyone outside the demographic [MTV] is showing," said Daniel Cappello, the executive director of the Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Within the first five minutes of the show's premiere episode, "Mike 'The Situation'" told the camera that the Jersey Shore is where "you have to be" because it's the place "where the shirts come off and the bikinis come out."
Mike proudly says he's a "guido" -- the type of guy every girl wants because he is typically "a good looking, smooth, well-dressed Italian."
As "Pauly D" readied to move to the house, the cameras captured him filling an entire suitcase with hair gel.
Hair gel, he says, is all part of the "guido lifestyle."
"It takes me about 25 minutes to do my hair," says Pauly D, who works as a DJ in Rhode Island during the off season. "There's no way I'm going to Jersey without my gel."
But Joseph Del Raso, the president of The National Italian-American Foundation, isn't happy about the cast throwing around the term "guido."
"We find this program alarming in that it attempts to make a direct connection between 'guido culture' and Italian-American identity," Del Raso said in a statement. "'Guido' is widely viewed as a pejorative term and reinforces negative stereotypes. "
In a statement provided to ABCNews.com, an MTV spokesperson responded to some of the criticisms of the show, saying, "We understand that this show is not intended for every audience and depicts just one aspect of youth culture. Our intention was never to stereotype, discriminate, or offend."
Polizzi, known on the show by her nickname "Snooki," told ABCNews.com that she was aware some people would take offense to the term "guido" being used so freely.
"I knew the reaction to the show was going to be negative because it's about guidos, and some people think it's a derogatory term," she said. "But it's not. It's basically [a term] to describe Italians who like to look good and be the center of attention, and there's nothing wrong with that."
Polizzi spoke to ABCNews.com prior to the airing of the second episode and did not comment on the punch.
"It just means you like to take care of yourself," said Polizzi, 22, who is originally from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and is currently taking time off from school to focus on her acting career.
She says she'd like her own MTV spinoff show that focuses on her search for love. In 10 years, Polizzi says she'd like to have the partying "out of her system and hopefully be settled down with a nice job and income and a beautiful Italian husband and beautiful Italian babies."
Polizzi herself has been the target of online critics, including a Facebook group dedicated to her called "Fans of Punching The Jersey Shore's Snooki in the Face."
She admitted the early criticism has been hard to take, but added that she hopes "everyone realizes that she's not a crazy, drunken idiot."
"I don't have to drink all the time to have fun. I'm a normal person too -- I just like to have fun at the Jersey Shore. I don't want everyone to think I have rehab. I want people think I'm a fun, nice girl," she said.
In the end, Polizzi says she's certain the disparaging remarks about her will make her a "stronger person," and adds that she thinks the show's harshest critics will continue tuning in.