Teenage Identification with TV Stars

On a daily basis, Thomas Budzik does imitations of “Jersey Shore” star Pauly D to entertain his friends. The constant stream of Pauly D’s “OH YEAH!” tagline and trying to mimic the reality show star’s DJing skills are amusing at first but hearing the gag five times in one week, transitions it from being funny to old and predictable.  

The depiction of a carefree lifestyle on TV shows has influenced some teenagers to purposely create a different environment than what they currently have.

For an hour every week, “Jersey Shore” affords Budzik an opportunity to escape reality. The 17-year-old H.S. of Economics and Finance student wants to experience a different world than what his mother allows him to have he says.

“I want be able to come home past 10 p.m. and not get yelled at,” Budzik said.

He’d jump at the opportunity to be on the show.

“There’s everything good a teen boy could imagine – alcohol, skanky women in tight fitted clothing,” he said.

Although Budzik claims that Pauly D is his inspiration to pursue a career as a DJ, he said he does not want his younger sister to look up to the show’s female cast members.

“I would not allow that behavior to be continued,” he said. “I would talk to her and consider using physical violence to make sure it wouldn’t be continued.”

According to CNN, around 1.4 million viewers tuned in for the premiere of “Jersey Shore” in 2009. And the number of viewers nearly doubled for the premiere of the next season. The show is targeted for audiences ages 12-34.   

“It’s not unusual for teens to look to media in that search for identity, but it’s generally somewhat more complex than identifying with a single TV character,” said Matthew Johnson, director of education for the Media Awareness Network.

“There are exceptions, such as when a teen who is different from his or her peers sees someone like him or her on TV,” he said. “Adolescence is very much about finding an identity.”


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