Don’t give into the temptation to dismiss Michael Cirelli’s Everyone Loves the Situation as a crass attempt at cashing in on the popularity of Jersey Shore. Yes, this insightful collection of poetry does focus on the MTV reality series, but it’s definitely not in the same category of books as, say, The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer or, for that matter, Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi’s A Shore Thing. Rather, Cirelli’s book presents an intelligent examination of Jersey Shore and its relation to Italian-American culture in verse form.
A lot of Cirelli’s interest in Everyone Loves the Situation lies in the cultural gap between first-generation Americans and their progeny’s progeny. Case in point: the term “Guido.” While plenty of grad students and other pop-culture academics have most likely been busy exploring the shifting attitudes toward this supercharged signifier in the wake of Jersey Shore mania, Cirelli deftly addresses the issue in a pair of poems, both appropriately titled “Guido.” In the first, he notes, “To have a whole culture simplified by/Us, to be reduced to meat-a-balls,/To muscle and pink gel is unacceptable/To the aunts who made it from Brooklyn to/Patterson, the uncles who crossed the line/From Cranston East to Cranston West.” In the second, he distills the debate over the G-word to its very essence: “We thought you/Were dumb/Until we needed help/With the carburetor.”
Elsewhere, Cirelli humorously attempts to decode the true meaning of Snooki’s face as if she might be the second coming of the Mona Lisa, reveals the key to unlocking the mystery of Michael Corleone (the fact that he went to Dartmouth (sorry for the spoiler)), and offers an exegesis of the phrase “family jewels” (among other things). All told, it’s a fascinating collection that casts Jersey Shore in a new light and examines not just what it means to be a “Guido” but also what it means to carve out an identity as an American.
-Review by Marc Schuster