"The Importance of Being the Sitch."

"The Importance of Being 'Jersey Shore'"

What happens when MTV guidos are appropriated by the language of Oscar Wilde?


Drew Grant
April 26, 2011 5:01AM (UTC)

The world is sad, Oscar Wilde said, because a puppet was once melancholy.

Wilde's wry take on Hamlet – as something of a brooding muppet – was recounted in a classic New Yorker essay by Louis Menand, the Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard professor. "[Wilde] was referring to Hamlet," Menand explains, "a character he thought had taught the world a new kind of unhappiness – the unhappiness of eternal disappointment in life as it is."

Eternal disappointment, or Weltschmerz, if you want to impress friends at a German cocktail party, is probably one of Wilde's lesser-known aphorisms. That may be, however, the ineffable reaction that most people have to MTV's "Jersey Shore."

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This would be the query posed by the Broadway cast of "The Importance of Being Earnest," who, in a series of viral videos, recite dialogue from MTV's hit show in the style of Wilde's witticisms.

The results, if anything, prove that the unhappiness unleashed by the aimless self-loathing and inertia of Denmark's prince is alive and well today.

Unfortunately, today's youths might not use such eloquent language.

To quote Wilde again, in a seemingly prophetic vision of the Situation and Snooki: "I think God, in creating man, somewhat overestimated his ability."


Drew Grant

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

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