Jersey Shore reality star Jenni Farley, also known as "JWoww."
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Saturday, JWoww, one of the stars of MTV's hit reality show Jersey Shore, will be in Toledo as part of a promotional appearance at Electric Beach. Some of you already know this and plan to go. Others didn't know about it and could not care less.
And then there are those who consider JWoww's local appearance -- and really, her nationwide popularity -- as yet another sign the Apocalypse is nigh. Count me among the latter group.
I'm a man of few hates.
I hate high gas prices.
I hate most third and fourth movies in a series.
I hate the ridiculous amount of theft-proof plastic it takes to retrieve your paid-for CD or DVD.
But I don't hate people. And I certainly am not going to start now with JWoww.
I've watched Jersey Shore and I don't care for it. If I wanted to watch 20-somethings drink too much, hook up, and make general fools of themselves ... I never would have matured past my college years. So while I don't hate the reality show's manufactured stars, I do resent them. Mainly, I resent that JWoww is popular enough that she would be a spokesman for a company, and that there are Toledo residents with nothing better to do than make the effort to see her. Let's be clear about this: I don't begrudge JWoww the opportunity to take advantage of her celebrity status; I begrudge the fact that she has celebrity status. And for what? For being tan? For being obnoxious? For being from New Jersey?
We can do better than this. At the very least, we should try.
I have a 4-year-old daughter. At the moment, her world consists of my wife and me, her preschool, Disney and Pixar movies, and the educational shows she is allowed to watch on TV. It's a controlled environment, like Logan's Run, only without fear of sandmen and renewal. I like that. But I also realize that her protective bubble against popular culture eventually will burst, and that frightens me -- especially when I know what's waiting just outside: Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Britney Spears. These celebrities aren't role models for young girls, they are police blotters waiting to happen.
I realize there are many, many women in this country who would make wonderful role models for young girls: scientists, doctors, politicians, professors -- only good luck trying to find them on TV, in newspapers, or on the Internet. If they're not having run-ins with the law, chances are most of us will never hear about them.
It's fame -- be it of the infamous or famous variety -- that matters most in our culture.
That's why someone like JWoww exists, someone, as the 21st-century cliche goes, is famous for being famous. And how is such a nonskill like that supposed to help an impressionable young girl reach her potential?
"Look, honey, if you can develop an outrageous personality, be willing to make a fool of yourself on TV and look good doing it, you can be a star."
That's almost as absurd as having two college degrees and a drive to succeed in the graphics art and fashion industry, only to temporarily give that up for the lure of instant fame and quick cash by appearing on a degrading reality show, as Jenni Farley, JWoww to the rest of the world, opted to do.
So much for saving for my daughter's college years. Perhaps I should start saving for tanning sessions instead.
Contact Kirk Baird at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6734.