MTV's 'Jersey Shore' Garners Critics Over Use of Term 'Guido'

Casts' use of the term 'guido' has Italian-American groups angry.

ByABC News
December 9, 2009, 2:15 PM

Dec. 11, 2009 — -- For the cast members of "Jersey Shore," the MTV reality show depicts everything they say a summer in the Garden State is about: hair gel, hook ups and the coveted, flawless tan.

But for Italian-American groups and New Jersey tourism officials, the show is awash with inaccuracies, many of which they fear give the Italian community and the vacation destination a bad rap.

In particular, the willingness of the eight 20-somethings sharing a Jersey Shore summer house to classify themselves as "guidos" has drawn the ire of groups that consider the term offensive.

"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.

After just two episodes, the show, which airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. on MTV, has introduced viewers to the eight shore house residents, all of whom pride themselves in being "guidos" or, for the ladies, "guidettes."

And later in the show's season, the Shore will get violent when one of the roommates, Nicole Polizzi, gets punched in the face at a local bar.

Polizzi was hit by New York City gym teacher Brad Ferro, who was later found guilty of simple assault and was fined $500 and ordered to take an anger management course, according to Seaside Heights Police Chief Thomas J. Boyd.

Within the first five minutes of the show's premiere episode, a 28-year-old male who goes by the name "Mike 'The Situation'" because of his chiseled abdominal muscles -- "My abs are so ripped up we call it 'the situation,'" he says -- tells 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 another cast member, "Pauly D," readies to move to the house in Seaside Heights, N.J., where the show was filmed earlier this year, the cameras capture 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, 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."