Jersey Shore Family Vacation
Ladies and gentlemen, almost a decade into studying guidos and guidettes in the wild in the greatest sociological experiment of our time, it is rare that we see something entirely new and undocumented. Welcome Joey, who is certified as the world’s very first gay guido. What do we call him? A Gaydo? Guiday? Homo He Wrecked Us? How about we just stick with Joey. That should work for now. Before we get into the very specific traits and impact of Joey on the rest of the young people in this experiment, let us take some time and look at some of the words that the guidos use that might be confusing to newcomers.
Debaucherary: This is a portmanteau of the words “debauchery” and “ordinary.” It is when a woman of ill-repute, such as the creature known as Trash Bags, jumps up in DJ Pauly D’s arms and wraps her legs around him in the club. Yes, this behavior constitutes “cheating,” but the guidos consider any man or woman showing another man or woman any sort of amorous attention, regardless of whether lips or genitals meet, as cheating. Because such behavior is both outlandish and totally expected at the same time, it earned this term.
Tarantula: We hear Snooki call Joey this while he’s literally rolling out of a cab while drunk. While the guidos love riffing on an animal name (see “hippos,” “hamsters,” and “gorillas”), it is unclear if this is an insult or just a descriptor. It could mean someone who is so messy that, while drunk, he appears to have eight limbs rather than four. It could also mean a large, hairy man similar to a large, hairy spider. It could also mean a gay guido in general. More study needs to be done to determine the precise origins of the term.
Vegases: The Situation repeatedly refers to the town in which they are on vacation as “Vegases.” The guidos often pluralize the name of something that they have little time or respect for. Mike is sick of the town and all its debaucherary behavior and wants to return home to his fiancé. Therefore he uses this derogatory mispronunciation. It’s similar to how Mike calls Trash Bags “Angelinas” or Snooki calls her “Angeliners.”
Now, back to Joey. The gay guido is very interesting because he is a man in a very macho culture, but also a man who subverts the very essence of GTL by seemingly doing none of these things to preen for women. He is a man who is not on the hunt for women at all, which makes him self-identify as “one of the girls.” Like the girls, he gets wasted and flirts with all of the guys. He goes so far as to tell The Situation that if he were to get naked and wet in the shower, The Situation would actually be turned on.
This is a curious statement, because if Joey were a slim, hairless twink with big, fake pairs of lips and breasts, I could see how this would be the case. However, he is a larger, more hirsute figure, so even if he could get The Situation to think that he was a woman, he wouldn’t be the type of woman The Situation would like anyway. But coming on to men like this seems to be some kind of power play. He makes them all incredibly uncomfortable, especially Ronnie, who says that he does not like Joey grabbing his junk. “I’m not a piece of meat,” Ronnie says. “I have feelings, too.” The irony of this is totally lost on Ronnie, who often treats women the way Joey treats him, but far be it from the guido to learn anything through empathy.
Joey definitely seems to not fit in with this group. He is not really one of the girls, though he pretends to be, and he is also not one of the guys. When a guido does not fit in with the rest of the pack, he compensates for this by drawing attention to himself and being “extra AF.” Just as Angelina takes a bite out of “Cheese Vinny” — DJ Pauly D’s milk-based golem of his one true love — just to get a rise out of everyone, Joey does the same by showing his “tits” at the club, rubbing his naked sweaty torso all over The Situation, and then pouring the remainder of the champagne bucket over his head like a bad outtake from Daniel Franzese’s Ice Bucket Challenge video. The irony is that this strategy actually only further ostracizes this person from the majority of the group.
The most obvious example of this is when Joey decides that he’s going to be the clown for the entire group and gets in the man-made surfing machine thing at the Planet Hollywood pool. He gets in there and watches as the gang ridicules him for falling down while body surfing, his physical size, and also exposing his private parts after the water tears off most of his clothing. There is no way that poor Joey can win.
Joey is always going to be an outsider from this group but also from gay people. Because he wears the clothes of a guido (note how he sleeps in Nike shorts and an oversized T-shirt just like the other guidos) he will never be part of the monolithic cis gay male culture but because he is gay he will also never be fully indoctrinated into the guido hierarchy.
We see this most prominently when Joey picks up another gay man at the pool. A queer theorist would call this man a “bear” and he looks very much like Joey, something that totally disgusts the guidos. That is because the big and beefy guido is always on the lookout for his opposite, a guidette who is skinny and petite (though both are equally obsessed with their appearance and usually resort to either steroids or surgery to get their desired results). If the guidos were gay they would realize that “boyfriend twins” are actually very common in the gay male ecosystem. But they have no interest in looking outside of the savannah of their own guido-ness to understand other cultures. If the guidos have one fatal flaw, it is this one.
The other fatal flaw might be how much alcohol they consume. DJ Pauly D gets so wasted that he is grinding with Trash Bags in the club. He even tells her that if she wanted to have sex with him he would totally do it. He must have been completely wasted to go so far and you could tell she was thinking about it. Angelina would have considered it such a victory to hook up with another of the dudes in the house that I think it might have been worth it for her to lose her fiancé just for this.
Speaking of Pauly D and Angelina, something about these episodes of our favorite experiment has seemed extremely disjointed, like it was thrown together at the last minute, or it was all a bad idea. Deena is pregnant and couldn’t come to Vegas. JWOWW decides to leave early because Snooki wasn’t in her Mother’s Day video or something. Vinny, through no fault of his own, had to return to Staten Island for a funeral and then rushes back so the producers could film one more boys’ weekend. Ronnie has been off the entire time dealing with baby momma drama.
When I saw Pauly, Mike, and Snooki by the pool together as PMS, I thought, “This is what we’re left with?” That is what we were left with. Other than them, it was Angelina and Joey, and it seemed like we were watching all of the understudies in a play that used to be a masterpiece and is now trotted out in various revivals just to make a shit ton of cash. Instead of partying and antics — or even just the crew being their comedic selves together — we’re left with JWOWW and Deena sharing salads in a New Jersey strip mall. This is not the experiment I signed up for, and I don’t think that is going to lead us to any really interesting or profound new discoveries.