|December 29, 2009|
|Seaside Straddles a Fine PR Line|
|By Greg Hazley|
|Seaside Heights, N.J., wants to get as far away from MTV’s “Jersey Shore” as possible – just far enough so that it can still reap the benefits of being the controversial show's backdrop.|
The sandy beachfront borough is known throughout the Garden State for blue-collar summer entertainment. Its crowded summer boardwalk is dotted with amusements, food stands, bars and rides, and many families swear by the getaway as a quintessential Jersey Shore experience.
But there is a flip side to that image as Seaside is also known by the epithet “Sleaze Side” by some for its Bud Light-fueled evening debauchery and questionable courting behavior.
So one has to wonder what the borough was expecting when it okayed the MTV reality show from which it is now distancing itself – to a degree.
The MTV show, which debuted in November, has drawn widespread criticism – Italian Americans, politicians, women, to name a few angry groups – for its depiction of eight 20-somethings living, working and playing in Seaside for a summer.
After viewing a few episodes and listening to the outrage that unfolded over the past month (a male-on-female assault, promiscuity and ethnic slurs have marked its first few airings), the borough said yesterday that it didn’t ask for what’s happening.
“The governing body wants it to be known that they did not solicit, promote or participate in the filming of this show,” said a statement from borough administrator John Camera. He admitted that the town did issue a permit to film, but added it “must be issued as it is a first amendment right to film in public places.” [click for full statement .doc]
After backing away further, Camera adds this chestnut: “Most importantly, we hope that most people watching the show understand that it is television.”
He adds: “Of the episodes that have aired to date, we were happy to see that the shots of our town looked as spectacular as they really are, and that any time public bad behavior surfaced, it was dealt with quickly.”
The town seems pleased to provide the backdrop for assault and drunken adventures, so long as any illegal behavior is taken care of. That’s straddling a fine PR line, but seems about right for a resort borough that wants the families and the philanderers, one and all.
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