What Is It About Snooki?

Credit: Amy Nicole Waltney

Ever since she first appeared on MTV's Jersey Shore, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi has become a household name. She has no discernible talent; on the show, she (along with the rest of the cast) seems to endlessly get drunk and do stupid things in stupid places. So why does anyone pay attention to her?

Here are a few reasons why Snooki is famous, and why people (including this author) like to spend some of their time on earth thinking and talking about her.

Is Snooki Famous Because Hating is Fun?

Just about every day, you'll hear or see some statement like "stop the hate!" or "no H8 here!" If you quizzed 100 strangers, at least 90 of them would say that hate is "very bad," the province of neo-Nazis and losers.

Of course, this is a bit of a contradiction––hate can't simultaneously be endemic and marginal. But never mind. The truth is as we all know: a hate figure offers a convenient and even necessary outlet for pent-up negative emotion.

We live in a confusing world, simultaneously overstimulated and undernourished. In some urban areas, there is neither intimacy nor solitude. Some necessary psychological vitamin is missing from postmodern life, which makes hatred more enjoyable and more widespread than it probably was for our ancestors.

By "hatred," I'm not necessarily referring to genocidal bloodlust. Most of the people who "hate" Snooki don't actively wish her harm. Talking about how much Snooki sucks takes your mind off how much your job sucks, if only for a moment.

What does she symbolize?

Credit: Jeff Lewis from Chicago Photo Shop.

Talk to anyone with an opinion of Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, positive or negative, and inevitably you'll find out what she represents to them. Snooki fans might say something like this:

  • I love Snooki! She represents the carefree party spirit in all of us.
  • Snooki is down-to-earth, but she also gets wild. She reminds me of my own youth.
  • She speaks her mind, even if it sounds stupid. I wish I could be more like that.

But what do Snooki haters (or strongly-dislikers) have to say? Usually, something like this:

  • She represents the collapse of Western civilization.
  • In the old days, we had stars like Marilyn Monroe or Ava Gardner. Now we have a classless, cursing guidette who can't even be charming. That perfectly encapsulates how degenerate celebrity culture has become.

Clearly, Nicole represents something to these people––whether she's symbolizing glorious youth or the Kali Yuga, those symbols resonate with people, thus ensuring her fame.

The problem with celebrities is there are so many of them. It's technically possible to be "famous," to star in movies and pose on red carpets, and be basically unknown by 99% of the public.

This is even more possible because few celebrities look at all distinctive. Many of them must get plastic surgeries to look like each other. Without googling, tell me the main differences, in terms of appearance and fashion style, between Amber Rose, Amber Heard and Kesha. Now think of the main differences between Marilyn Monroe, Jayne Mansfield and Ursula Andress. See?

In contrast to today's crop of anonymous beauties, Snooki is short, squat and orange-skinned. She doesn't have her clothes coordinated by a stylist. In fact, her clothing is very unflattering for her body type. Because of all this, she sticks out in the mind, for better or for worse.

Is it because she's

"No one ever went broke underestimating the good taste of the American people." This quote, variously attributed to H.L. Mencken and P.T. Barnum, could be modified to replace "good taste" with "gullibility," "intellectual level" or even "standards." (Ouch!)

Many reality shows, just as trashy and shameless as Jersey Shore, are released every year. Most of them sink without a trace and are never thought of again. However, for whatever reason, MTV's Jersey Shore caught on, and now people are interested not just in the show, but in its "stars."

She Makes People Feel Better About Themselves.

Credit: NVS_inc on Flickr.

Being "better" than a famous person in some way is a good feeling to have. Since social status is relative, seeing yourself as better than someone who gets a lot of attention and interest makes you feel like your social status will rise.

That might be why you find so many people railing about Jersey Shore. They are mad that these "low-status" people are getting more attention and acclaim than them, but at the same time, they are pleased. After all, they can get some attention and acclaim from lowering the status of Jersey Shore cast members.

Enter Snooki. She's not our culture's ideal of someone who "deserves" fame. She's not close to one's inner idea of what a high-status female looks like: slender, light-skinned, classically beautiful, demure, relatively chaste, et cetera.

So when Snooki rises in status, other women (and even men) see that her social/sexual rank has been inflated past what she "deserves," and want their own social/sexual rank to rise as well. Paying attention to her might show them how she did it, and how they can, too.

No, it's not rational, but neither are our brains. We are social animals––but, ceteris paribus, we want to be as close to the head of the pecking order as we can be.