New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) used his authority to stop a tax credit paid out to the makers of the popular reality TV series in a bid to prevent the degradation of his state’s image.
"I have no interest in policing the content of such projects," Christie said in a statement
"However, as chief executive I am duty-bound to ensure that taxpayers are not footing a $420,000 bill for a project which does nothing more than perpetuate misconceptions about the state and its citizens."
495 Productions, the makers of the MTV reality TV series that documents the exploits of Italian Americans as they romp around Seaside Heights in New Jersey, applied for a tax credit offered by the state’s Economic Development Authority
designed to spur film and television production in the state. 'Jersey Shore' cost $1.2 million in its inaugural season, according to the shows producers, which would have returned 20% from the public coffers as a means to attract local economic development.
Pressure, it seems was peaking from all political stripes making the governor’s decision politically tenable as well as pragmatically sound given Christie’s potential bid for the presidency and the influence of the Tea Party on fiscal issues involving less-than-savoury moral behaviour.
State Senator Joseph F. Vitale, a politician from across the aisle who had opposed granting the tax credit for 'Jersey Shore,' applauded Mr. Christie’s action.
“It’s about the words, and words matter,” Mr. Vitale, a Democrat from Middlesex County, said
. “The words the cast members use to describe Italian-Americans, ‘Guido’ and others, are no different to me than words used to disparage other ethnic groups or races. It wouldn’t be an appropriate use of taxpayer dollars to support that kind of language. That’s my beef with the show.”
Andre DiMino, president of USA’s largest Italian American service organization, was delighted with the governor’s cancellation of tax credit, which he thinks was an absolute insult.
to DiMino, “These miscreants and the disgraceful ‘reality’ show they represent are a major insult to, not only Italian Americans, but any respectable individual.”
Christie’s rival in the New Jersey legislature, State Senator Paul Sarlo (D) has attacked the governor for not expanding the film and TV program in order to attract better projects instead of low quality shows like “Jersey Shore.”
“Let us just hope against hope that New Jersey taxpayers don’t end up paying for Snooki’s bail the next time she is arrested,” Sarlo said
last week referring to one of the show’s stars. “What a terrible, terrible and misguided waste.”
Judging a show’s quality, however, has irked Seaside Heights mayor, P. Kenneth Hershey, who says
the show brings with it considerable economic benefits when the cast is filming.
The governor’s tenacity on the issue is also problematic from a political point of view, an editorial in the Star-Ledger of Newark remarks, criticizing Christie for playing the state’s Censor-in-Chief.
In the end, the show will go on without the tax incentives according to Jeannie Kedas, a spokeswoman for MTV. Mr. Christie’s veto of the credit “does not affect the show,” she told the New York Times
Opponents of 'Jersey Shore' will have no choice then to agree with State Senator Vitale’s analysis and advice.
“It’s just a bunch of deadwoods getting drunk and getting arrested,” he said. “I’m a big fan of turning the channel.”