Trailer trash, white trash—these ways of describing low-income people aren't new. They're meant to make people quite literally disposable, a way of denying their humanity and their potential to offer anything of value. With Jersey Shore, though, we get the "trash" without talking about money at all. What the castmates wear, how they behave, how they style their hair, how they speak, these all communicate to the viewer their lack of cultural capital and, consequently, their social standing.
Anyone who caught last week's episode of Jersey Shore likely noticed a rather interesting conversation between Jenni "JWoww" Farley and Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi on the topic of race. At one point in the show, the two women discuss the possibility of going to a nude beach, then move on to the topic of wacky things they have their respective bucket lists, like Snooki's desire to try bungee jumping. JWoww, philosopher and gentlelady, calls this a "white person thing," which prompts a seemingly annoyed Snooki to respond, "I'm not white... I'm tan."