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The Jersey Shore Porn Parody: A Critical Analysis

Sometimes I spend all week struggling to find something to write about. I check to see what movies are coming out, I pour over various news websites, I eat sandwiches; all in the interest of finding a topic that motivates me to write 1,000-2,000 words for the Internet.

But sometimes, a beautiful thing happens. Sometimes, the stars align and everything comes together for a perfect storm of comedy. Sometimes, there won't be a doubt in my mind what subject requires my attention. Sometimes a topic fits so perfectly in my wheelhouse that it feels like the Comedy Gods designed it specifically for me. A headline or a link will come across my desk and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that I was destined to write about it. I see the title and I say, without hesitation, "Yes. This."

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the trailer for the new Jersey Shore Porn Parody.

Jersey Shore Porn Parody -- powered by Cracked.com

Finally. Finally. I've covered Jersey Shore in exhaustive detail, and I've been all up in the adult film industry's shitonce or twice, and now there's a piece of pop culture art that combines both? I'm pretty sure that means I can legally murder someone if they try to cover it before me.

The trailer's mostly Safe for Work (provided you either work from home or in some kind of masturbation silo), but on the off chance that you can't watch it, it is my honor to review it for you. It might seem strange to review a trailer but, in fairness, this trailer is six minutes long and contains more plot twists than the entire season of Jersey Shore. So, without further adieu….

Traditionally, the connections between an adult film and the source material being parodied are, at best, tenuous. It wouldn't at all be surprising to learn that the creators behind films like Romancing the Bone or E3: Extra Testicle had ever even seen their source material. Indeed, the connection to the source material rarely extends beyond the title and, occasionally, the setting (both Romancing the Stone and its porn counterpart took place in forests, for example).

But the Jersey Shore Parody changes all of that. It is clear from a glance that writer-directors Brian Bangs and Spock Buckton share an intimate familiarity with the wildly popular MTV reality show, celebrating its highs while enthusiastically embracing its flaws in the mold of all great parody work. Bangs and Buckton have a deep affection and respect for their source material. The task of recreating a beloved piece of literature like Jersey Shore is not an enviable one, but Misters Bang and Buckton are fully aware of this responsibility, and they rise to the challenge with gusto. And for this reviewer, the combination of their vigor and skill is nothing short of a revelation.Detail

The attention to detail displayed by Bangs and Buckton is astounding. Every original character has an extremely convincing analogue and the house, the Italian flag, the rooftop hot tub and everything else made famous by Jersey Shore has been meticulously recreated for this parody.

Uncanny.

Even the infamous Snooki punch is recreated here with a wonderful cameo from Burning Angel regular and friend to the site Brian Street Team.

In the hands of lesser directors, the parody would most likely fall apart early on and degenerate to a series of vaguely interrelated sexual acts, but Bangs and Buckton, ever the purists, soldier on with their parody and miss no opportunity to penetrate deeper into their source material. Never is this commitment more daring and rewarding than when we see the Situation and Snooki analogues canoodling in a hot tub. It is clear that Porn Snooki (Kristina Rose) is desperately craving love from The Situation (Rocco Reed); a scene that mirrors the finale of MTV's Jersey Shore and she makes multiple aggressive advances. In MTV's version, Snooki is ultimately rejected by The Situation and, in an admirable display, the Porn Situation also rejects Snooki and throws her out of the hot tub. In short, this is a porn film where the actors will occasionally not have sex with each other in service of the story. For an industry that typically regards writing and story as a nuisance, this is a milestone, and it's bold decisions like that that makes Bangs and Buckton the strongest and most consistent directors working today. Don't be surprised if you find them at the very top of everyone's list of Directors to Look Out For in 2010. Is it too soon to call these guys the Coen Brothers of porn? This reviewer submits that it is not.

Cinematography

I could go on and on about the film's visual storytelling structure and how it evokes the early works of Roger Deakins, but there's only so much room in this review, so I'll just focus on the impressive framing of one particular shot. To give you some context, J-Woww's boyfriend is visiting and he just interrupted Pauly D, who is trying to eat his meal in peace. Let's take a look at the shot and see what it tells us:

There's certainly a lot to take in-- Pauly D (veteran James Deen in the performance of a lifetime) is lifting weights while simultaneously eating his "spaghetts," and it appears that J-Woww (Sara Sloane), while appropriately seductive, seems to have wet herself-- but it's the arrangement that really makes the shot sing. If you'll look closely, you'll notice that, while not at the forefront of the action, the dead center of the shot belongs to Snooki, who is quietly eating a banana alone in front of the sink. The central placement tells us that this is the important visual in the scene. As any student of Psychoanalytic Literary Theory will tell you, the banana, with its phallic nature, is a very telling symbol, and one you as a viewer would be unwise to discard. A woman inserting a phallic symbol into her mouth is the centerpiece--perhaps a metaphor for oral sex? Let's pull back from the center a bit now. This visual is framed not by J-Woww and her visiting boyfriend, but by J-Woww and Pauly D, foreshadowing a future sexual romp between J-Woww and Pauly. This bit of foreshadowing is rewarded when mere minutes later, we find J-Woww's boyfriend locked in a bathroom while she performs oral sex on Pauly.

Actual lines from the film.Commentary

Typical porn parodies rarely strive to make a point about their source material but, as you hopefully know by now, The Jersey Shore Parody is not your typical parody. When Ronnie and Vinnie first meet, Ronnie's immediate reaction is to ask Vinnie to touch his abs. Vinnie refuses, on the grounds that he isn't gay which, according to Ronnie, warrants proof. Happy to oblige, Vinnie immediately begins dancing and his raw, primal movements are so passionate that Ronnie can't help himself--in seconds, he is compelled to join in and the two new housemates are dancing together.

MTV's Jersey Shore is about men who believe themselves to be at the apex of masculinity, yet they're so concerned with their appearances they carry crates of hair gel and spend hours each day flexing, tanning and doing laundry. The latent homosexuality is just a subtext in MTV's Jersey Shore, but Bangs and Buckton say what's on everyone's mind and bring it out in the open in Parody. The directors are holding a mirror up to the overly-compensating hyper-aggressive men of this generation and saying, "You might think you're the toughest guy on the block, but this is what you look like to us. And it's totally OK." The directors encourage the emotionally unstable and sexually confused men of the Jersey Shore to embrace what they so clearly are, and that's a lesson everyone can learn. We all put up fronts to conceal who we truly are and keep people at a safe distance. Bangs and Buckton are here to help us tear those walls down.

And that's what makes Parody great. This film is not just about tan people humping each other; it's a commentary on the show and, by extension, the culture that celebrates it.

Also, tan people hump each other.

Conclusion

And how does this beautiful emotional roller coaster end? The housemates are sent a mysterious, ticking package as the end of their stay nears. The box, we learn, contains a bomb that is both time and motion sensitive. When an excitable Vinnie demands to see the box due to the frankly perplexing fact that he "loves clocks," the bomb contained therein detonates, destroying the house and all who dwell within.

The allusion to Mario Puzo's The Godfather--the package is from "Don Corleone, PO Box 187 Italy, Europe"--was no accident and serves many functions.

Chiefly, it trains its viewer to pay very close attention. To a casual viewer, the package likely bares no significance, but as rhetorician and New Criticism pioneer Ivar Armstrong Richards will tell you, a close reading is essential to truly capture the meaning of a piece of literature. This close reading, in conjunction with an appreciation for and understanding of The Godfather brings some of the true brilliance of the film to life. The Godfather is celebrated for, among many, many things, its incredible use of foreshadow (a talent also shared by Bangs and Buckton, as displayed earlier). As Godfather devotees will tell you, oranges serve as an important foreshadowing device, a death omen for the Corleone family: Don Corleone purchases oranges before he is shot and ultimately dies with an orange wedge in his mouth; Woltz sits near a bowl of oranges just minutes before his horse is murdered; Fanucci picks up a few oranges right before he's shot, and so on.

Francis Ford Coppola trained his audience to anticipate death when they saw oranges in a Godfather film, and Bangs and Buckton make excellent use of this training. In an amusing twist, the literal oranges used in The Godfather are replaced in Jersey Shore Parody with the obscenely orange tans of the housemates. Bangs and Buckton know that the use of the Corleone name with the almost overbearingly bright orange colors of the cast will stir up a tension in the guts of their viewers. We, as the audience, sense this connection and feel that something bad is coming, thanks to the foundation laid by Coppola.

As if we needed more proof that murder was afoot, the PO Box number on the package very tellingly reads "187," the penal code for the crime of murder. Our directors don't dwell on this package, we only see it long enough to feel the suspense, our hearts beating in line with the tick tick tick of the mysterious package. Before we can process this lightning-quick information and make the connection, the bomb goes off and our unlikely heroes perish. Nothing remains of the house and the sky turns black as ash rains down on the site that once held the hormone-charged antics of our dear friends. We can't be too surprised; the details were all there, for those paying attention.

It wouldn't be a Bangs and Buckton film if there weren't multiple layers to that thrilling conclusion. In addition to one of the quickest porn-related endings that doesn't directly involve premature ejaculation, this gripping finale functions as a commentary on the temporal nature of celebrity and a warning for our society. The cast of The Jersey Shore may be enjoying their time in the spotlight, and we as viewers may enjoy them as our jesters-of-the-moment, but nothing is infinite and it's only a matter of time before the next "phenomenon" sweeps the nation. As Bangs and Buckton eloquently remind us, this cast, too, shall pass. Dust to dust.

Ashes to ashes.


Daniel O'Brien just simultaneously impressed and horrified all of his former Lit. Theory professors.

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