Re: Driving Jersey: Seaside Heights (www.drivingjersey.com)
Much has been made about stereotypes in New Jersey. Out on the roads of the Garden State the people we meet are very concerned about how Jersey is portrayed and perceived. And even though it was always our intention to create a film series about New Jersey that included people and places we met and went to by chance, I can't deny that their need for authenticity hasn't played a part in directing our work.
The content is simply those who were there, where ever, when ever, no formulas or casting to portray a stereotype. It's no wonder then that we chose Seaside Heights, the Jersey Shore, as the subject of the first installment of our series. In short, Seaside is one of the most misrepresented and misunderstood meccas of Jersey, by tourists, TV and even locals. The boardwalk culture of Seaside has always intrigued me for its innocence and indulgence. There is no denying that the boards and beaming neon, the games and food, the bars and beaches invite families and fools for love and lust, alike. For me, as a child, it was a forbidden city for what it was or what it was perceived to be. As an adult, I have come to think of Seaside as a place that isn't that bad and, yet, isn't that good either.
Just like life, It has a dark side. It is a spectacle of the shore in all its excesses. And yet, without them and those visions what would it be? Would it still be the place that draws the attention and draws a crowd? Would it interest us as much? You can't deny that most who work and live and vacation at Seaside are much more than "the" stereotype. Even the stereotypes are deeper than their tans, aren't they?
TV's sin is not in reinforcing the stereotype, but in NOT representing the whole. In this age of reality TV, is there a place for reality?
TV execs consider the audience the way Jersey business owners consider tourists to the shore. Producers and presidents need eyeballs on TVs, just like arcades need quarters. We may not agree with everything on TV, just like we may not agree with everything on the boardwalk. A twelve year old can shoot paintballs at a faceless grown man who clutches his crotch and dances around awkwardly. Is that responsible? But we accept most unacceptable things in life, as part of life. And like most stereotypes, like it or not, like THEM or not, they exist for a reason. They are REAL, as real as those who believe, support and ARE them.
Driving Jersey, the series, was not and is not about disproving the stereotypes, but reinforcing the realities of the Garden State, the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful. We don't hate. We celebrate. And that's our suggestion, our direction for the people of Jersey and the Jersey Shore, speak your mind, of course (it's what Jersey does best), but don't make a bunch of noise about the stereotypes, denying they exist at all, accept them and then be yourself, be proud and loud about what makes Jersey more than the stereotypes. It's kinda like what Nietzsche said, embrace the dark night of the soul and howl the eternal YES.
Watch Driving Jersey: Seaside Heights, a vision of the boardwalk in four seasons.
Director/Producer, Driving Jersey