Friday, July 30, 2010

Snooki as a Poster Child for Successful Adoption?

Hi Meltingpot Readers,

Do all of you know who Snooki is? If you're like me and don't have cable, nor do you have teenagers in the house who might be attracted to over-hyped reality shows on MTV like the Jersey Shore, then you might not. I still have never seen The Jersey Shore and I still don't have cable, but I know who Snooki is. She's the big-haired, short limbed, big mouthed, nicely tanned and somewhat crude young woman on the Jersey Shore who somehow has become a pop-culture phenom.

I've hardly paid her any mind and her popularity has barely registered in my circle of friends, but Snooki was the front page story of the Style section of the New York Times last Sunday so I decided I should educate myself and find out what was so amazing about this woman who seemed to gain all of her fame for being a walking stereotype of an Italian-American "guidette."

The article in the Times only served to reinforce my original idea that Snooki is a walking stereotype and the reporter seemed just as clueless by the end of the article as to why she has captured the hearts and minds of the American public. But there was one line in the story, a parenthetical at that, that suddenly made Snooki a fascinating character study to me. Snooki was adopted at six months of age from Chile.

So suddenly, this girl who has almost single-handedly redefined Italian-American youth culture (in South Jersey) becomes an interesting example of a child who wholeheartedly adopted the culture and subculture of her adoptive parents, to the point of extreme. As countless adoptive parents struggle with this notion of how much of a child's original culture should be preserved vs how much should the child be encouraged to take on their adoptive family's culture, can Snooki be a case study?

Again, since I barely know anything about Snooki, I don't know if she's ever talked about being adopted or if it's even something most of her fans know. I did a google search and the information is definitely out there, but her getting drunk or changing her name to Snickers seems far more interesting to her adoring public.Do you think Snooki should use her platform to talk about adoption or is this nobody's business and should we just let her enjoy her 15-minutes of fame?

Hmmm?

I'm listening.

6 comments:

Jennifer Smith said...

I read a article about her adoption in the NYTimes. I too was surprised to see was an adopted from Chile. But, as you stated ans has been well documented in various media sources, she has almost single-handedly changed the way society sees the Italian American culture.

It does appear that she has adopted another culture and seemingly forgot her Chilean roots. I'm assuming, but cold be wrong, that the family that adopted her is Italian- American and has tough her they ways of that culture, but I'm on the fence as to whether her case can be viewed as a successful adoption. I think it would be interesting to see a documentary of sorts of a look inside her home life, family and the level of support and nurturing ( which I personally feel to be a essential need for a successful adoption) in order to make a case on it.

nyc/caribbean ragazza said...

Snookie said she was adopted on the show. Fans of the show know she was born in Chile. Her adoptive parents are Italian-American.

Most of the people on the show (including Snookie) aren't even from Jersey.

I don't think Snookie has redefined Italian-American youth culture but has helped exposed a very specific NY/NJ culture to mainstream America. When I was growing up calling an Italian-American a Guido was considered a slur. I can see why various Italian-American organizations have no love for the Jersey Shore crew.

One of my friends, who's married to an Italian, was watching the show here (on MTV Italia)with her husband. He kept saying, "these people are NOT Italian." So funny because every other sentence on the show is "As an Italian..." or "I'm Italian, that's why I...."

LT said...

Jen,
I completely agree.

Ragazza,
Good points all around. I've seen some websites try to claim Snookie as a Latina almost a ethnic battle as to who can truly claim her. Which in the big scheme of things why people would want to claim her is beyond me, but then again I don't think i fall into her target audience.

JBH said...

Thanks for enlightening me! Did not know this about Snookie.

Speaking from an adoptee's perspective, I was given a lot of freedom about how I self-identify. And my identity has evolved over time, even racially/ethnically. I've seen it with lots of adoptees: identity is as varied as the individual.

In general, I think that people need to be given the freedom to explore and create their own identity. That includes Snookie. So if she wants to ID herself as NJ/Italian, claiming her adoptive parents heritage...so be it. Back off, Latina websites. Let her be who she wants to be.

Anonymous said...

It's laughable to me that people think that children who are adopted should be taught the culture/ways of their biological parents and not their parents. I am in total agreement that children who are adopted should have an open dialogue with their parents about their roots both familial and biological. But that said if an adopted child is only allowed to have the experiences of their biological family they are never really in a family as they ultimately lack the physical presence of their biological family and emotional presence of their real family.

Unless you are adopted you will never understand that experience. Thus as someone who is adopted when I read comments like "I think it would be interesting to see a documentary of sorts of a look inside her home life, family and the level of support and nurturing ( which I personally feel to be a essential need for a successful adoption)" its just like really?

I don't think people should look at adoption as successful or unsuccessful. Instead if you are adopting a child (or raising a child period) it needs to be about how am I going to be successful as a parent, how do I best nurture, raise, support, and help my child to grow?

At the end of the day an adopted child is still a child- constantly attaching the label and/or subject matter of being adopted or adoption is hazardous. To me it feels limiting and to 90% of the people I come across who find out that I'm adopted they automatically assume with the adoption/adopted label or subject that my family somehow isn't the same as theirs even though it is.

No one in my family would ever deny that my sister and I are adopted but we also don't make it a point to highlight. This is not because we are ashamed of being adopted or because we want to hide it but rather because it is a very small facet in the multitude of things that make us a family. Just as with any other family, we have our own strengths, characteristics, and yes, issues. That said we're a family and we love each other deeply. The end.

Anonymous said...

She isn't exactly what i would concider a poster child for adoption. I've known mental patients that have ten times the class tht this ill behaved wanna be italian american has.