Young Adults and “Trashy Culture”

Looking at the recent success of shows like Jersey Shore, Kate Dobromilsky asks, Has the recession in America caused young adults to consume “trashy culture?”

After viewing the Century of Self documentaries, I asked myself what kind of extension of the documentary I would create to represent the consumer culture I have seen in my own lifetime. I began to think about the “trashy culture” that seemed to rise in about 2008, the same time as the economic recession in America. Beginning in 2008, teenagers and young adults became obsessed with MTV’s The Jersey Shore. Members of the show quickly became cultural, fashion, lifestyle icons for young Americans. Therefore consumer culture developed what I call a “trashy culture” theme.

As you can see above, the “trashy culture” comes with a great deal of consumption. These young adults on the right greatly represent the many young adults that mimic the members of The Jersey Shore seen on the left. These “guidos and guidettes” must spend lots of money to obtain the “guido look” and do “guido-activities.” They buy makeup, skimpy animal print clothes, and hair extensions. These young adults want to buy the image of the “Jersey Shore guido” lifestyle. They also pay for night club admission, alcohol, gym memberships, and tanning memberships.

The thing I find most curious about this “trashy culture” phenomenon is how it has evolved in America. I wonder if The Jersey Shore cast are relatable to young adults because they do live in a time of recession. Many young adults are paying for college, car payments, etc. and do not have the extra money to go to Mexico for the summer. Therefore, this “trashy culture” is a cheaper, easier way to have a good time. Young adults cannot afford expensive vacations and therefore they glamorize a cheap weekend stay at an old shore house.

As you can see, Snooki as well as other people and businesses have taken advantage of the growth in “trashy culture.” They are now selling their products, like Snooki’s perfume at high prices and people are purchasing them. I wonder if this movement that first began as a cheap way to have a good time has now become a lifestyle that young adults feel is worth investing more money into. I ask you what your impression is of this growth in “trashy culture?” Why do you feel young adults are literally buying into it?


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  1. I dont know if any of you have seen the recent South Park episode about “raising the bar” but this is what came to mind as I reread this post. The episode questions what happened to this country that all we spend our nights watching trash on TV. People getting drunk beyond belief only to completely embarrass themselves on the boardwalks of New Jersey, to Honey Boo Boo’s family exploiting their daughter on TV for a quick pay check as talked about in the South Park episode. While it doesnt mention the economy as a reason for the bar of what is acceptable in our country being so low, that could be a good reason. Usually people who dont have much, like to see what the more fortunate live like, that is why shows like Cribs, or the Kardashians are popular because people are intrigued as to what people who do almost nothing with their lives do on a daily basis. On the other hand, I still dont understand why people would want to sit down and watch a group of nobodies selling T shirts on the boardwalk drinking their lives away.

  2. priyanka1293

    I am guilty of watching reality television. My favorite shows include: Keeping Up with the Kardashians (and all spin-offs) and all of The Real Housewives shows. This “trashy,” or gluttonous, culture is not appealing to me because I want to live vicariously through any of these people, but rather it is a form of entertainment which I enjoy watching. Some television shows, especially the more dramatic ones, can bring on tension to their viewers; in the case of reality television, most of it is scripted and unreal, so people do not take it as seriously.

    Personally, I am picky with the type of reality television I like to watch. Most of it is watching people of the upper class (hence, the Kardashians and Real Housewives) act like normal (for the most part) human beings. On the other hand, shows on MTV such as Jersey Shore, Teen Mom, and others irritate me. The lifestyle portrayed on the Jersey Shore is entertaining for a couple episodes, but not more that that. Similarly, a show like Teen Mom is uninteresting and not something I like to devote my time to. This may be because the people portrayed on the Kardashians and Real Housewives are actually successful and entrepreneurial, even if it is because of the show; whereas the members of the Jersey Shore have just partied for the last six seasons and there hasn’t been much progress in their lives.

    I feel that people will devote themselves to this trashy culture as long as the price is low. Watching Jersey Shore on MTV is relatively free; while there are people spending to achieve such a lifestyle, most are not and do not take it seriously. Snooki’s perfume may be selling, but not as much as Princess by Vera Wang. And if Snooki can be a New York Times’ Bestselling Author, at least there is hope for the rest of us.

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