Starting this week, MTV will start showing its hit television show “Jersey Shore” in 30 different countries, hoping that the “narrative” will prove to be “universally appealing,” reports Brian Stelter in The New York Times.
If the ads are any indication, foreign markets may at least have some piqued interest. As Adrien Chen observes on Defamer.com’s Australian site:
On the poster I see a muscle man who is tan. In our culture, muscles are good – we either want to have them or want to be with someone who does. The man is adorned with flashy jewellery: Perhaps he is wealthy. I enjoy watching wealthy, fit people people flaunt their wealth. The man looks like he is aggressive. He looks both threatening and appealing. Are his hand signs American for “welcome?” or “I will fight you?” I will watch this show.
Would you? As Chen puts it, “As a foreigner, I am fascinated by America.” And if MTV is pushing “Jersey Shore” as a prime example of American culture, of course it will attract the interest of foreign viewers.
But what about the markets that may not be as interested in what MTV calls those “universal” ideas and the G.T.L lifestyle (gym, tan, laundry)? Will the more somber northern European markets be as amused as we are?
From a cost-benefit perspective, MTV has a lot to gain if “Jersey Shore” does turn out to have that universal appeal, even thousands of miles away from the Garden State. Most of MTV’s content has to be recreated in other markets; the channel has a long history of extremely localized programming. The Italian version of “Big Brother,” for instance, was a big hit primarily because of its local flair.
On that note, MTV Italia is one of the channels that will be streaming the show, prompting some to ask: Are the Italians going to be insulted by the portrayal of their American counterparts? We’ll have to see the reviews when they come out next week.
And one last question: How do you translate “The Situation”— the much-ridiculed nickname of one of the characters? The Times reports that it will in fact remain unchanged in Portugal, France, the Netherlands and a few other market. “Some names, it seems, defy translation,” Stelter concludes.