In its first season, MTV's reality series "Jersey Shore" — focusing on young Italian-Americans whose lives revolve around the gym, tanning, and laundry — confounded critics by attracting some 4.8 million viewers. Last week, on the eve of the show's second season premiere, The New York Times' Cathy Horyn profiled one of its breakout stars, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi, a tiny dynamo known for her drunken antics and pouf of hair. "Trying to hold a conversation with Snooki is a little like getting down on your hands and knees with a child," writes an openly exasperated Horyn (who notes that Snooki has only ever read two books, including Twilight). "Sometimes you almost think you need to bribe her with a piece of candy to coax her to be more responsive." Does Snooki deserve the ridicule?

She certainly reflects terribly on New Jersey: When asked to comment, the state's governor, Chris Christie, told ABC's This Week that the show is a "negative for New Jersey," not to mention inaccurate: "Most of the people on 'Jersey Shore' are New Yorkers." (Snooki was actually born in Chile, but raised by Italian-American adoptive parents.) Viewers who want to experience the Jersey shore more accurately should visit it themselves.
Watch a video of the ABC interview here.

Snooki should be treasured, not mocked: Horyn condescendingly, viciously marvels at Snooki's popularity without attempting to make sense of it, says Mary Elizabeth Williams in Salon. She dismisses Snooki as incapable of introspection, but, to me, any writer who's so "blithely unaware she's in the midst of a class war is the truly incapable one here." Snooki has a "loose, unself-conscious joyfulness... that those in the more tightly sphinctered, high-class media elites" can't even imagine.
"In defense of Snooki, an American princess"

Snooki might be dim, but at least she's real: While Snooki has no discernible talent, says Jezebel blogger Hortense Smith, she has an appealing authenticity that's completely absent in, say, the rich, self-aggrandizing California blondes who populated "The Hills." And unlike certain Times' writers, "Snooki wouldn't wait until she left your home to talk shit about you to everyone else."
"The New York Times has no love for Snooki"