I think the ancients would have been kinder about a fellow who takes his name from a part of his body. (Literature students should note that for “The Situation” to share his sobriquet with his pecs and abs is a useful example of synecdoche, and gives you a chance to mention Jersey Shore in your next seminar.) To spend a lot of time in the gym was the mark of a man who had lots of leisure time: it must be true because Socrates says it in Xenophon’s Symposium.b. It proved you were rich enough not to have to work. Admittedly, The Situation has to spend a little time selling gelato, but this is a caprice; his real work is to live his life as The Situation.
Speaking of which – isn’t it great that you can try to look like these people? The Jersey Shore merch doesn’t stop at having replicas of the cast; you can be a life-size version of them. The creatives at Costume Craze have been careful about the marketing, though, and we are to think of these as Halloween outfits. Yes, Snooki is scary. Having a Situation is to be as alarming as it sounds.
Is this a breakthrough in the history of celebrity? Forever, we’ve been expected to look like our role models, and to imitate the famous has been an implicit homage – a way of identifying ourselves as followers. But the Halloween outfit sounds like a so-bad-it’s-good way of saying that the beach bums are tacky enough to be cool; or another way of sharing your love of the show while distancing yourself from it, in a classy, post-modern way. Like Antony and Cleopatra dressing up as ordinary folk, maybe, and mingling with those comically ordinary Alexandrians.