MTV Pulls the Punch. But why?

While MTV originally planned to band-aid the episode of Jersey Shore featuring Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi getting punched--hard--in the face by by airing a PSA cautioning "Violence against women in any form is a crime," they've now decided to not run the footage at all.

An MTV representative said "What happened to 'Snooki' was a crime and obviously extremely disturbing. After hearing from our viewers, further consulting with experts on the issue of violence, and seeing how the video footage has been taken out of context to not show the severity of this act or the resulting consequences, MTV has decided not to air Snooki being physically punched in next week's episode."

Does that mean the clip wasn't disturbing before it went viral? Jersey Shore was shot months ago, and MTV has been sitting on the footage since. Were they waiting for moral public outcry or for violence against women to go viral?

It seems like in general Jersey Shore has been getting media attention more for its controversy than its content. I can't say that I've heard anything about the show that's not based on how offensive it is, is this just the latest in unsavory hype? I'm assuming that the rep is saying the animated .gif of Snooki getting punch is taken out of context, the hit isolated for quick Internet consumption without any further commentary or follow-up. And yeah, that's tacky, but so is showing the clip--without context--as a a way to promote future episodes, which is how it got online in the first place.

According to the NY Daily News article, Snooki herself wanted the clip to air, saying "It should be out there. Everyone should know that it can happen. But also, a positive came out of it. It brought [the cast] closer together...What happened happened. It's all reality."

But is something positive going to come of it? Given how long MTV has known about the punch, deciding not to air clip that everyone has already seen (or has actively had to avoid watching) on the Internet seems kind of like a sick media bait-and-switch to stir up more viewers. While they will still address the incident on the show, it's left to be seen if there will be any meaningful dialog around it from the producers. And give how viral the video went, and how disturbingly popular it was, is MTV really going to stop making and promoting shows with this kind of content? Based on other future clips, there's plenty of violence lined up for the rest of the series as well.

by Kjerstin Johnson
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Kjerstin Johnson is a writer and editor in Portland, Oregon. She is the former editor in chief of Bitch. She tweets at @kajerstin

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