News & Politics

Cage Match: Is Chris Christie Worse for the Citizens of New Jersey than 'Jersey Shore'?

A new poll shows Jerseyites despise the boozy reality show, but we'd like to make the case that their governor is worse.

On Thursday, Quinnipiac University released a study of New Jersey voters, who overwhelmingly believe that Jersey Shore—the MTV show featuring a variety of “guidos” and “guidettes” getting hammered at dance clubs—is bad for their state. Furthermore, 71 percent of those polled believe that Governor Chris Christie “did the right thing” by blocking a state tax credit for its production—including those polled in the under-35 age range, the exact demographic the show targets. Seventy-eight percent agree with Christie’s assessment that the show “perpetuates misconceptions about the state and its citizens.” 

The show gets heavy negative ratings from New Jerseyans, including the seashore neighbors. They think the Seaside-based show is bad for the state. Although there have been legal arguments against his decision, voters agree that Gov. Christie was "duty bound" to do what he did.

And while we agree with his block of the Jersey Shore tax break—which would have cost Jerseyites $420,000—there’s one thing we have to ask: is Chris Christie worse for New Jersey’s image and citizens than Jersey Shore? We thought it was an interesting question to pose, so we pitted some of Jersey Shore’s most embarrassing, lowest moments head to head with some of Gov. Christie’s, to see if we could figure out the answer.

Snooki is arrested drunk vs. Christie’s fun-filled helicopter ride

Last summer, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi was tanked at a Seaside, New Jersey beach (filming, of course) when police were summoned. She was arrested for disorderly conduct (read: she could barely walk, and was screaming “I’m a fucking good person” as the cops carted her away to the clink) and eventually was released with a summons. It was highly embarrassing, and didn’t stop her from binge drinking, but she eventually got over it.

This summer, Gov. Christie attended his son’s high school baseball game. Which would have been a harmless, wholesome activity, if he hadn’t arrived there in a spanking new, taxpayer-funded, $12.5 million HELICOPTER, driven by state troopers—after meeting with political donors from Iowa. He was immediately lambasted for his gross misuse of power. “It’s not just contributors, it’s people who want him to run for another office with a political agenda. That’s where he’s crossed the line,” said Assemblyman John Wisniewski. “He’s a governor who as U.S. attorney would rail against elected officials blurring the line. But this governor has selective memory and selective outrage.” 

WHO’S WORSE: Christie. Snooki’s infraction was a victimless crime, while Christie’s infraction was not technically a crime but cost his constituents an estimated $1,200 per hour for frivolous personal use—far more obscene than a blackout beach party.

The Situation and Ronnie almost get into a fistfight vs. Christie’s tax-and-slash budget plan

Jersey Shore’s on its final season and it’s obvious they know: the lesser-revered stars are going to great lengths to do something memorable, perhaps to expand their post-show career options. This goes for The Situation in particular, who seems to be coming unhinged: he’s spreading rumors and lies, playing hurtful pranks, and generally being more absurd than we remember him—quarter-life crisis? When Ronnie confronts The Situation for talking smack about something or other, the two beef-muscled juiceheads rumble around each other, each peacocking but neither daring to take a swing—until The Situation goes so ballistic he hits his own head against a wall and gives himself a concussion. It is perhaps the most absurd moment on a show built on absurd moments, and certainly one of the all-time stupidest yet most entertaining things I’ve ever seen on television. 

Chris Christie’s done and said a lot of his own absurd things, not least of which is thanks to his loud mouth—there was that time he told reporters to “take a bat to” a 76-year-old, widowed, female state senator whose savings had just been decimated by Bernie Madoff. But nothing’s been more extreme than his plan to “fix” New Jersey’s $10 million debt, which is of course ordered straight off the super-conservative GOP menu: kill public services in the budget, slash retirement benefits, raise the retirement age, cut school funding--oh, and raise the taxes on the middle class while promoting a tax cut for millionaires. The fact that any adult human believes that plan is a good way to run any kind of government and actually balance a budget is at least 145 times more absurd than anything we’ve seen The Situation do, ever. 

WHO’S WORSE:Christie, by a long shot.

Angelina talks smack about Snooki vs. Chris Christie is mean to a constituent

Jersey Shore’s Angelina only lasted a season and a half, mostly because she could not get along with most of the residents of the Jersey Shore house. One of her worst infractions, aside from hooking up with a roommate, was attempting to create friend triangles, pitting some of the girls against the others for her own potential gain, while talking smack behind their backs—particularly in the case of Snooki, Jersey Shore’s lovable pint-sized star. 

While we’re not sure about Christie’s friend manipulation antics, we do know he and Angelina’s behavior cross over at more than one point in the Venn Diagram—particularly when it comes to being rude to people who live in the house/state. In late June, a constituent wondered why Christie sent his children to private school if he was prepared to cut funds to public schools. Christie’s rude answer: “None of your business.” Would he have responded so brusquely if he had been on the campaign trail instead of sitting safely in office? Apparently: when questioned about his tone on "Meet the Press," and whether he should speak to a constituent that way, his response was “damn right I should,” with a far-flung excuse about being who he is at all times. But unlike reality television, rudeness won’t help Christie's approval ratings go up.

WHO’S WORSE:Gov. Christie. Angelina might have treated people poorly, but she’s also not an elected public official. It's not a monarchy, Chris!

Jionni abandons Snooki in Italy vs. Christie abandons Jersey for Florida

Jionni is Snooki’s boyfriend/first love, but he doesn’t accept her for who she is. He blanches when she tries to talk dirty to him on the phone, for instance, and if he had ever seen an episode of Jersey Shore before they started dating he would know that making vulgar statements is kind of her thing. Regardless, when he travels to Florence, Italy, to visit Snooki and she gets drunk and flashes him, he becomes irate and disappears without telling her where he’s going. He’s gone for an entire day before she hears from him, during which she bawls the entire time. She may be gauche, but it was the ultimate in cruelty.

Christie knows something about abandonment: he disappeared during the horrific blizzard of 2010, known unofficially to those of us who experienced it as “Snowpocalypse.” And while Northeasterners have a propensity for exaggeration, this was not going overboard: it was the third-largest blizzard in New Jersey history. So the governor was there orchestrating the cleanup, right? Wrong. He was in Florida, on vacation, and not feeling all that empathetic:

 When asked about the hundreds of people trapped in their homes for days, Christie said unless they lived on state roads, it’s not something his administration would have been able to change.

“If someone is snowed into their house, that’s not our responsibility,” Christie said.

When asked about mayors who said they were forced to divert their resources to unplowed state roads instead of clearing local roads Christie said, “Iknow who these mayors are and they should buck up and take responsibility for the fact that they didn’t do their job.”

Some residents did not appreciate Christie’s vacation, however. “I think this was his first priority. I mean, I’m all for everybody going away and having a vacation. He’s entitled to that, just like any of us, but…this storm really debilitated the whole state,” one man told CBS New York.

WHO’S WORSE: It’s a tough call: for general bad deeds and selfishness, Jionni gets it by a long shot...but when you factor in the amount of people affected by the blizzard, Christie pulls in a dead heat. Draw.

And so, while we empathize with New Jerseyites who look upon Jersey Shore with disdain—having seen more episodes of the show than we’d like to admit, i.e. all of them—we would like to note to those polled in the Quinnipiac study that Snooki and JWOWW aren’t the most toxic things tainting the state's respectable image. Besides, we know New Jersey is great—you gave the world pork roll and Bruce Springsteen, to cite two of our favorite examples. It’s just that your governor... let’s just say we’d rather spend a half-hour locked in a room during a Sammi and Ronnie argument than attend a Christie press conference.

And speaking of toxic...Christie’s flip-flop on environmental policies is so hardcore we couldn’t even think of a humiliating Jersey Shore moment to compare it to. Which is to say: Chris Christie, overwhelmingly, takes the cake for 2011’s worst New Jersey export.

Julianne Escobedo Shepherd is an associate editor at AlterNet and a Brooklyn-based freelance writer and editor. Formerly the executive editor of The FADER, her work has appeared in VIBE, SPIN, New York Times and various other magazines and websites.
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