Despite protests, lost advertisers and the threat of losing more, MTV's programming president says the network has "no intention" of altering its controversial new series Jersey Shore, and that the heavy backlash was unanticipated.
"To be 100 percent honest, no, even as an Italian-American. I just wanted to be cautious about toning down the partying," Tony DiSanto told The Hollywood Reporter. "It never crossed my mind this would be offensive. ... Everybody is welcome to their own POV. It bums me out that some people are offended."
MTV: Jersey Shore is not for everyone
The Real World-esque series, which follows eight hard-partying twentysomethings in the Garden State, has elicited outrage from Italian-American groups for its "offensive" portrayal of the ethnicity, citing the cast's frequent use of the term "guido." "I understand that it is considered a derogatory term by certain people. I don't see it that way, since I don't think of 'guido' to mean Italian-Americans across the board," DiSanto said. "Not all these kids are fully Italian-American; it's more about a specific character type. We actually did pull the word 'guidos' from voiceover and descriptions of the show [due to the protests]. However, if they refer to themselves that way, we let that exist as is."
Domino's pulls ads from Jersey Shore
Several advertisers, including Domino's and American Family Insurance, have pulled their ads from the show, while UNICO, the largest Italian-American service organization in the U.S., has called for an advertising boycott. DiSanto — who is unsure if the controversy will hurt or help the show in the long run — says MTV is not concerned with the lost sponsors, reiterating the network's stance last week that Jersey Shore is not for everyone.
Best quotes from the Jersey Shore premiere
"[T]here's no intention to change anything in the show. I think that as more people check it out, they'll grow to love it more and more," he said. "Also, no show is for everybody and no show can be. If you try to make every show for everybody, you dilute the creative. If a particular person is offended, that's fine, watch something else, because MTV has a huge palate of other things to watch."