Is a Snooki university lecture worth $32K?

By Eddie Hand


What sort of deity did Snooki have to sell her soul to in order to get the kind of life she has?

I’m a regular viewer of “Jersey Shore,” and I still don’t get her appeal outside of morbid fascination. She looks like an oompa-loompa, and her personality is lovably grating at best and downright vile at worst. It’s fun to watch her because she’s such a train wreck, but my jaw dropped like a sack of heavy objects when I learned that she had somehow convinced Rutgers University to pay her $32,000 to speak there.

I get that she has entertainment value; “Jersey Shore” is comedic genius, and she’s savvy enough to take advantage of her newfound fame. But it’s one to thing for her to write a book or get interviewed by “Rolling Stone,” and something completely different to be paid more than Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison to speak at a decent university and tell the attending students about how much bronzer and hairspray she buys.

A part of me feels like there’s something wrong with this. I’d like to blame the administration, but I can’t; it was a student-run organization that funded the appearance. The other part of me isn’t even remotely surprised by this. The saddest part of it all (or maybe just the most interesting, depending on how you look at it) is that the cast of “Jersey Shore” is doing what a lot of people wish they could do – not so much the rampant partying and mayhem that seems to take place in every episode, but the easy money they make for seemingly doing nothing.

I’ve been watching “American Idol” since the eighth grade. A lot of the appeal is that you can vicariously live through the contestant as they slowly but surely rise to prominence (at least until they don’t receive enough votes and fade into obscurity). Most of the contestants are singers by trade anyway, so it’s not like they’re doing anything radically different from their day-to-day life. “Jersey Shore” takes this concept to its logical extreme. Where “Idol” can be subtle, “Jersey Shore” snorts some coke and goes on a rampage. It’s a lot like “The Real World,” but with even more volatile people and the result is fascinating, especially assuming it isn’t scripted (which it very well might be, but for the sake of a clear argument, we’ll assume it isn’t).

While there’s a reasonable amount of talent necessary to succeed on “Idol” (because technically it’s still a competition), Snooki’s skill set appears to be limited to the ability to do gymnastics while intoxicated and possession of a liver that can seemingly process rocket fuel. I’m fairly confident that given the opportunity, I too could get drunk on national television and act like a moron. I have not been lucky enough to do this, but Snooki, The Situation and all their self-proclaimed “Guido” cohorts have.

They make literally millions doing what they probably would have been doing anyway. They have effectively hit the career jackpot. Truly, they are living the dream (at least until their respective livers explode or they get a venereal disease or something).

But does that really mean we should be doling out money just to hear her tell us what most of us have been doing anyway? Is it worth thousands of dollars that could be spent on something a little more tasteful? Does anyone really want to hear her talk about her book or what it’s really like being on the show?

Apparently, yes; it is.

And I guess there’s nothing wrong with that. The girl has made a name for herself with nothing more than a poofy haircut, a bad attitude and extremely reckless behavior. If she was doing it in the stock market, she’d be considered an eccentric genius. While “Jersey Shore” may not fit into the norm for most people (especially over the age of 24), I can’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t want to get paid for letting someone film their regular routine. Or perhaps I’m not giving peoples’ sense of privacy enough credit. Maybe there’s something I’m missing. Maybe she’s just funny and Rutgers is just lucky that they were able to book her. She’s providing entertainment. People want to go see her, so in that regard, she’s worth every penny. We’re willing to give athletes thousands of dollars in appearance fees,, so why not reality stars?

Eddie Hand is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected].