Monday, February 22, 2010

Stupid Contamination, and Snooki at JMU

In a little over a week, a low-profile celebrity from the show "Jersey Shore" known as "Snooki" will visit James Madison University, the university from which I'm on the verge of graduating. The reaction has been vast--many students, fans of the show, embrace her arrival while others, including myself, loathe it.

We've all got different reasons, though. A lot of people, including this article from the Breeze, moan about the "moral depravity" she represents. I could careless. She or anyone else of legal age can do whatever she likes with her body; it's none of my goddamn business. That's between her, her fellow depravers, and her doctor.

It's not what happens inside her that I care about. It's what happens outside--the stupid. I've never watched the Jersey Shore. I'd be embarrassed to sit through an episode.

Nor do I even need to. These shows have been done before; this edition has salami. The episode summaries posted on MTV's website remind me of all the reality shows I've ever witnessed--a homogeneous mixture of petty drama and stupidity. In fact, the descriptions feature situations similar to those found on mySpace, the dominion of middle and high schoolers, filled with notes about how "I CANT BELEVE CHARLIE CHEEDED ON ME W/ SUZIE OMFG!>!!>!>!>!>!" Beyond the surface tension, there's nothing. Petty desires and ignorance leading to no resolution but more nothing, except--perhaps--what the editors desperately attempt to salvage in post-production, giving some "moral meaning" to the whole fiasco, strung into place with virtually scripted interviews and sappy exposes.

I really don't have anything, in itself, against stupid media like this. I avoid it, but there's a place where the line must be drawn. My university has invited a cast member of this show to come here and hold a public event.

When my university endorses this magnitude of stupid, it reflects upon the student body, faculty, and administration. By bringing any thing, person, object from that show, or anything else that cherishes irrationality onto my campus in an official capacity, it contaminates this university with stupidity. Even if the stupidity already present here merely gravitated this ignorance towards us, it reveals to the public how stupid we actually are. Perhaps some of us are not stupid, but outsiders will not be able to observe that, having been drowned out by the much louder, much more prevalent, stupid.

Sure, plenty of intelligent people enjoy getting hammered sometimes, but who's stupid enough to post it on YouTube?

Maybe it's already too late. Maybe the magnitude of stupid has passed a critical threshold, and it's no longer possible to salvage JMU. There's plenty of great faculty here, but having great sailors on a sinking ship doesn't save the ship.

In fact, those sailors were virtually given the finger last year. The University complained about not having enough money, so they gave none of the faculty raises. Meanwhile, they proceeded to start a high speed construction project where, in two years, they would completely revitalize the football stadium.

The whole gesture is under the misguided belief that somehow having a larger football program makes a school more... recognized? I'm honestly not sure what they're shooting for. There are few JMU football fans in the local area, and therefore there is little potential for revenue. The locals loathe the university, ironically enough, for students behaving in the way that Snooki represents.

Since revenue is impossible, the only remaining rationale for the football project is some kind of cargo cult school development. "Cargo cults" refer to islanders in the Pacific who, during World War II, witnessed American and Japanese soldiers marching and planes landing. In an attempt to obtain the same cargo--weaponry, planes, etc.--they performed the same rituals: marching, standing in bamboo control towers with bamboo headsets, waiting for the cargo to arrive.

It's as if JMU thinks making a football program great makes the school great. It's the other way around, if there's any connection at all. For example, you don't hear much about MIT football, and Harvard and Yale were major institutions before they had football programs.

The football and tweaking entertainment to the lowest common denominator--it's as if the university's growing into an entertainment venue for those looking to delay entering the workforce. The degree has little worth now--academic inflation has made it so that you aren't really guaranteed a job with a college degree. Graduation rates are more important than graduation quality.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This worries me. I'm a high school senior and I applied there, and while I'm aware that JMU is kind of... ignorant jock-filled, I was hoping there would be some intelligent (intellectual) people somewhere.

Monday, March 01, 2010 6:01:00 PM  
Blogger The Emperor of the Moon said...

There are enclaves; you just have to look.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010 11:05:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So I got in. I might visit sometime this week (Spring Break). Wish me luck. Hahah.

Saturday, March 27, 2010 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger The Emperor of the Moon said...

ah, that explains why there's so many damn tours this week

Wednesday, March 31, 2010 12:37:00 PM  

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