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Italian-Americans not amused by MTV's 'Jersey Shore' and LI's 'J-Woww'

Jenni "J-Wow" from MTV's show "Jersey Shore"

Jenni "J-Wow" from MTV's show "Jersey Shore" Credit: MTV, 2009

A controversial MTV reality show featuring a Franklin Square woman is creating a splash on Long Island, earning fans and critics alike.

The show, "Jersey Shore," profiles a group of eight 20-somethings who share a beach house and identify themselves with pride using nicknames and cultural references that several groups have said are offensive to Italian-Americans.

Three national groups representing Italian-Americans have called on MTV to pull the show. So far two companies, including Domino's Pizza, have reportedly yanked their ads.

Drawn into the dust-up is Franklin Square's Jenni Farley. Known on "Jersey Shore" as J-Woww, Farley has Spanish-Irish heritage and is one of two stars who is not 100 percent Italian-American.

"It's absolutely ridiculous," Farley, 24, said of the backlash. "We, the castmates, are proud of how we were portrayed on the show."

The show's mix of hormones, high jinks, liquor and tans has not gone over well with some on Long Island, which according to 2008 U.S. Census figures racks up 27 percent Italian-American residents. Lou DiRico, a Roslyn resident and secretary of the North Shore chapter of Unico National, one of the groups condemning the show, said he's seen some clips and is uneasy about ethnic stereotyping.

"People who don't know better and see these shows think that all Italian- Americans are like these people on 'Jersey Shore', which we don't want," said DiRico, 57.

MTV has defended "Jersey Shore," though the company admitted it's not to everybody's taste.

"We understand that this show is not intended for every audience and depicts just one aspect of youth culture," said a spokeswoman. "Our intention was never to stereotype, discriminate or offend."

Farley said "Jersey Shore" is not a scripted, cartoonish send up of Italian-American stereotypes, but shows its stars as they are: young men and women of varied backgrounds who have made a lifestyle choice. "It really comes down to a scene," she said, "and the scene is really big."

Danielle Savarese, an Italian-American senior at Stony Brook University, said the show, of which just two episodes have been broadcast, was already "the topic of conversation" among her friends.

She finds the attention the show's stars give their tans, hair and muscles, as well as their operatic emotions and binge drinking, amusing, not offensive. It's an entertainment show, she said, not a reality show. "I don't think it's accurate," said Savarese, 21, of Syosset. "You can tell the people are pushing the Italian-American stereotypes over the top."

>>REWIND: Click here to see photos of the celebrities, beach-goers and club scene in the Hamptons this summer

>>PHOTOS: Click here to see photos from MTV's VMA after-party


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