How Chris Christie Milks the Whole Jersey Fat-Guy Authenticity Thing

Scrutinizing culture.
Feb. 6 2012 2:54 PM

Shut Your Mouth, Chris Christie

The whole Jersey fat-guy authenticity thing is over.

(Continued from Page 2)

The whole incident called to mind the episode of the Sopranos in which Uncle Junior’s mistress gossips about his proficiency in the “going down” department, causing him to feel shame in front of his clueless crew. The thing that makes Christie’s remark particularly odious to me is his slimy condescending use of the word “sweetheart.” That and its official sanction by Christie’s party sycophants.

“The video,” my colleague Torie Bosch noted, “was uploaded to the New Jersey GOP’s YouTube account. They seem to think his remark about ‘going down’ is a zinger, something to be proud of, rather than recognizing it as flagrantly demeaning, even misogynistic. How would Christie have responded to male protesters saying the same thing? Probably not by changing the subject to what acts they perform in the bedroom. His handlers should be apologizing for the remark, not promoting it.”

Apparently her post took a lot of abuse from Internet dimwits, some trying to push the line that it really wasn’t an oral sex joke at all.

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Perhaps the most ridiculously inept and inauthentic defense of Christie’s remarks came from blogger Ann Althouse:

Now, obviously, the words “going down” mean “happening,” especially when the subject of the verb isn’t a person and when there’s no object preceded by the word “on.” That is, to refer to oral sex, he would have something closer to “somebody’s going down on something tonight.” Moreover, if one were inclined to make an oral sex joke when the word “jobs” is already in the mix, you’d jape about “jobs.” Going down? Oh, there will be some going down tonight, and there will be jobs, maybe not the kind of jobs you want, but there will be jobs.

Can you believe that? Disingenuous pedantry about subject/object synchronization when the boys at the Bada Bings all over Jersey are snickering. Sure, nothing sexual about that use of “going down”: It’s all about “something going to happen.” This ranks as the second most ridiculous deconstruction I’ve ever seen (and believe me, as a Yale grad school dropout, I’ve seen a LOT). The greatest of course is Quentin Tarantino’s opening scene in Reservoir Dogs: the gang’s hilarious exegesis of Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.”

I can’t believe Althouse’s analysis hailed from authentic stupidity. (She’s a law professor after all.) Rather, I suspect we can attribute it to (an important distinction) inauthentic obtuseness.

I can’t help thinking the whole episode—including the recent “numbnuts,” which demonstrates that Christie thinks playing stupid and vulgar has been a plus—it’s a sign that Chris Christie’s crossed a borderline from being Chris Christie to playing Chris Christie. But the media in this age of Newt’s three-ways and Herman Cain’s harem is going to let him get away with it, even though his bullying humiliation of that woman who was asking an authentic question about jobs is far worse than some stupid hotel assignation.

(By the way should we consider Newt fat? Technically, in a body-mass way, he probably is. But he comes across so angry all the time you never sense he’s ever felt the placidity of a fat guy. He’s so inflamed it’s like he’s burning up his calories in front of us. Even if he is fat, it’s not reading authentic.)

I don’t even want to bring up J——-S——, but isn’t it time we ditch the whole Jersey authenticity meme? Maybe it once had some validity and sure I like Boardwalk Empire but I think it’s too late for Jersey to reclaim any authenticity. The whole state has embraced its theme-park-for-dummies status.

Unless you count Bruce. I have always loved Bruce, at least after he stopped blatantly imitating Dylan when he broke out with Born to Run. I could play “Darkness on the Edge of Town” forever. When he’s being the Raymond Chandler (or the Raymond Carver) of rock there’s no compare. But I’ll never forget the moment when I first saw that “Dancing in the Dark” Brian De Palma-directed video. The one where Bruce is all made up and calls a then-unknown model, Courtney Cox, up to the stage to dance with him.

I just couldn’t believe that was staged. I remember having a big argument with my girlfriend at the time, with me claiming (on the basis of no evidence except my belief in Bruce’s rock solid authenticity) that it was spontaneous and I remember her laughing at me contemptuously for not realizing Courtney was a model prepped for the moment, for not noticing all the make-up Bruce was wearing on what looked like a newly sanded super smooth face.

Okay, it was kind of naive of me to be fooled. But somehow, though I still love the songs he makes (“Tougher than the Rest” is a recent fave), something was lost.

Maybe, Bruce, it’s time for you to put on some pounds. I think we’d all feel better if you ditched the ripped facade for some heavy pasta and cheese steaks and the physiognomy they would beget. Pork products, Bruce! I think we’d all welcome a Fat Bruce replacing the Smooth Bruce. Even Lionel Trilling would call it more authentic.

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