Snooki and the cult of the suitably vacant

What: Snooki Polizzi hosts a long weekend party

Where: Union Hall, 6240 99 St.

Tickets are $20 at the door, $40 for VIP access.

There’s little doubt that, had Nicole Polizzi hit the airwaves of a U.S. Network in 1985, protests would’ve formed outside the station, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission would’ve been hauled in front of congressional hearings and church groups across the nation would’ve organized boycotts.

Known better by her Jersey Shore nickname, “Snooki,” Polizzi is a reality television star, and tonight, she’s hosting a party at Union Hall. Her show benefits greatly from a general relaxing of broadcast standards in the reality T.V. era, and generally revolves around Polizzi and a crew of other young American adults drinking, partying and screwing around on one another with all the subtlety of an alley-load of stray cats in heat.

In other words, it’s the ultimate show about nothing.

Snooki is like a drunken, slutty modern day Rodney Dangerfield: no respect. Of course, she’s making bank for doing basically nothing, like so much easy money, and she’s diversifying for that point in time, oh… not long from now, when her 15 minutes are up.

For all those reasons and more, people love to hate Snooki. They’ll tell you she’s vapid, and that her show is vapid, and that almost everything on television is vapid.

True. But hasn’t that pretty much always been the case when it comes to TV?

Sure we’re hitting such new cultural lows these days on TV that it certainly would seem it can’t get much worse. There has never, however, been a point in time when most T.V. was any good.

Is Snooki’s hour a week of crass, stupid behaviour any worse, really, than Geraldo Rivera opening “Al Capone’s Vault”, back in the 1980s, or Phil Donahue running around his audience in a dress? Or Sally Jesse Raphael, Springer and then Maury Povich? Is Jersey Shore any more forgettable than “Charles in Charge” or “Mama’s Family”? Cripes, television has ALWAYS sucked.

Mindless television has been killing time and helping us relax since Desi and Lucy were make the scene at the El Mocambo.

The fact that we increasingly seem to need that mindless element to unwind? Now THAT should bug us.

Snooki represents something else aside from bad T.V.: she represents an era in which people will work themselves to death chasing unachievable status – or even just paying the bills. When they finally get a chance to kick back and relax, they’re so damn tired or stressed, it’s actually intimidating to have to think about entertainment.

And so, Jersey Shore offers exactly what its audience is looking for: nothing. A weekly soap opera based in so-called “reality”; the good kids can make fun of its general moral ambivalence, and the bad kids can make fun of its entirely phony sense of rebelliousness, and without one challenging second. It’s like pro wrestling. If you’re tuning to Jersey Shore looking for redeeming messages, quality writing or admirable characters, you’re kind of missing the point. It’s not designed for thinking.

It is every bit as witless as an action movie, and those of us who enjoy watching Jason Statham kick eight asses in nine seconds are no more looking for art than are Jersey Shore fanatics.

So expect tonight to be a hit. People are willing to pay $20 to get into just about anything these days, it seems; going to the same party as someone famous? They won’t even bat an eye.

Having said that, the $40 VIP tickets should make you pause and think: just how much of a VIP can someone really be for less than it costs to gas up a pickup?