In what is perhaps the cruelest profile I've seen in the Style section in quite some time, the Times' Cathy Horyn reduces Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi to a pathetic, whining, stupid character who deserves both pity and scorn.
Horyn, clearly not a fan of Jersey Shore, attempts to make sense of Snooki's widespread popularity, apparently shocked that America has attached itself to a woman whose own father doesn't quite understand what her appeal is, telling Horyn that his daughter doesn't sing or dance, but is perhaps liked simply for being, well, likable.
Horyn, who typically covers fashion for the Times, seems to enjoy eviscerating Snooki's iconic image, noting that she's "not conventionally attractive," and "busty and short-waisted with small legs; sort of like a turnip turned on its tip." There are backhanded compliments everywhere: Snooki's signature look is "interesting," and she "has a way of putting herself together that while in some ways is atrocious, is completely identifiable to her and consistent with her attention-seeking personality." Yikes.
But it's not just Snooki's clothes that Horyn goes after: she paints Polizzi as slightly stupid and immature, a needy child playing dress-up who has to be the center of attention at all times: "trying to hold a conversation with Snooki is a little like getting down on your hands and knees with a child," Horyn writes, "You have to come down to her level, and sometimes you almost think you need to bribe her with a piece of candy to coax her to be more responsive. She is really only responsive to her own immediate needs and desires. She is not self-centered, but she is used to acting out and getting away with it."
After all that, Horyn attempts to paint Snooki as an unwitting victim of sorts, unaware of the machine she's been placed in, unable to process her own hype or understand what it is that makes people love her so much. The sense of inevitable doom that hangs over the piece—that Snooki's 15 minutes are coming to an end sooner than she thinks—is something echoed in a recent piece written by Choire Sicha for The Daily Beast. Sicha interviewed both the cast, and, like Horyn, producer Sally Ann Salsano, who seems to be watching a car crash in slow motion and sadly shaking her head, dropping lines like "I do think-the kids who drink their own Kool-Aid-they'll be very thirsty very soon."
I'm not quite sure why Snooki was chosen for such a takedown: we live in a culture where being famous for being famous is nothing new, and despite Horyn's takedowns of Snooki's wardrobe, attitude, conversational skills, and future career prospects, it's obvious, in many ways, that the public has latched on to her simply because she provides an alternative to the reality stars of shows like The Hills: rich California blondes who would surely fit into Horyn's definition of "conventionally attractive," and who present themselves as above the shenanigans that take place on Jersey Shore, even though they're doing the same damn things, in a different setting, wearing a different, and perhaps more expensive, uniform. Do any of these people deserve to be famous? Probably not. Are any of them prepared? Doubtful. Those are the angles of Horyn's article that ring quite true. It's the constant reminders that—by the way, this girl is stupid, childish, can't dress, etc—that make the whole piece seem a bit off.
I don't know what it is that pisses Horyn off so much about Jersey Shore, or why she feels we need to know that Snooki "simply isn't capable of serious introspection," as if we were all hoping that Jersey Shore would suddenly get very deep and make us question our place in the universe or some such, but it could easily be argued that the condescending nature of the piece, and how Horyn chooses to mock her subject, is the very reason why the general public seems to love Snooki so much: she's not trying to impress the New York Times, nor is she trying to represent anyone but herself. Horyn seems to view this as a devastating character flaw of sorts, and certainly views her as stupid and worthy of public evisceration, and though she's probably right in terms of Snooki's inevitable career path, she certainly misses the point in terms of why so many people seem to love the show, and its biggest star: at least Snooki wouldn't wait until she left your home to talk shit about you to everyone else.