MTV waffles on Korean "Jersey Shore"

Why "K-Town" can't find a home in the world of racially profiled reality shows

By Drew Grant
Published March 25, 2011 9:26PM (EDT)
Peter the porn star: out to prove all those stereotypes about Asian-Americans wrong.
Peter the porn star: out to prove all those stereotypes about Asian-Americans wrong.

You know, we're always talking about how lowbrow American culture has become, but once in awhile we get a glimpse of a parallel world that shakes us to our core and makes us appreciate the little bit of intellect our society still holds dear. See, this other world is very much like our own, but somehow slightly worse; a place that could have been, or one day will be if we don't get our affairs in order like Scrooge did when he saw his headstone at the end of "A Christmas Carol."

I'm talking, of course, about the nonexistence of a show called "K-Town." K-town stands for Koreatown, a part of L.A. that has some producers trying to market it as the next "Jersey Shore." Except with Asian people! Because, hey, why should faux-Italians get to make money off of horribly racist stereotypes when there are eager 20-somethings of all different races who can  prove to the world that no matter what your skin color, everybody in America has an equal right to be the worst.

I wish I was just making up those previous sentiments, but they're pretty much mirrored exactly in the trailer for "K-Town" that hit the Web earlier this week:

So wait, you ask, why does "K-Town" make me glad for where we're collectively at right now as a culture? Because "K-Town" shot its pilot last summer and has been promoting itself for almost a year now: It had everyone talking about it on the Internet, and even got a porn star named Peter Le (a guy!) as its version of "The Situation" from "Jersey Shore." Yet somehow Viacom has yet to take the bait! "K-Town" is usually referred to in the press as an MTV show, but is always qualified by the phrase "which has yet to be picked up." Good for MTV! Believe me, I don't think it's for lack of interest: After all, just look at these guys' audition reel, which was conveniently "leaked" to TMZ last July:

So there's obvious media interest in this; it's not like we're all suddenly "too tasteful" for another racist reality show. But maybe we're just over it. Yes, maybe three seasons of watching Snooki drink herself stupid while Ronnie and Sammi have violent domestic disputes has audiences thinking that this game isn't fun anymore. It's not even interesting enough to warrant another scathing cultural critique, even though MTV is trying its damnedest to get us talking about the ethnic angle again by sending the Shore kids to Italy next season.

There's literally nothing new to say about "Real World" scenarios involving an ethnic group, and even our outrage has turned to apathy. Which a lot of times is a bad sign: It means that we've become jaded and immune to the awfulness. But in this case, I would willingly sign a piece of paper saying "I won't ever discuss racial profiling in the Asian community if it means I have to watch a porn star pour shots directly down some girl's throat in a sleazy L.A. club in order to do so." I'm done.

So, hey, NPR may stop getting its federal funding and "Celebrity Rehab" may be an unstoppable train, but at least we're getting too tired of rubbernecking all the blatant racism on reality TV to make it worthwhile to the networks. That's something positive, right?


Drew Grant

Drew Grant is a staff writer for Salon. Follow her on Twitter at @videodrew.

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