Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino has risen to prominence as a comic figure, a cartoon Lothario with a big mouth and bigger ego who clearly considered himself the King of the World even when he was living with his parents and stripping part-time. He’s sleazy and sordid and unencumbered by social graces or self-consciousness but in previous episodes at least, he registered as fundamentally harmless.
Until last night. Last night we learned that Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino is American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Before I used to think of the evil sentient mannequin one of the Kardashian sister married was television’s answer to Patrick Bateman but I’m beginning to suspect that Bateman could very well be a pop-culture archetype: the preening, soulless, narcissistic pretty boy powered solely by runaway ego, rapacious sexual hunger and violent misogyny.
Yes, the mask of sanity came off and we got to see Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino for who he really is: a pathetic, delusional monster intent on taking, by force if necessary, what he considers his. The show’s date rape vibe escalated from “simmering under the surface” to “queasy and overwhelming” as Sorrentino grinded away at a would-be nightclub hook-up who begged him to stop his unwanted sexual advances.
Sorrentino’s ego doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of “no means no.” For that matter, he never seems to have grasped the concept of “no” either. For Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, the world is a series of green lights begging him to take whatever he wants without worrying about the feelings of concerns of others. In psychology, there’s a word for someone like that: sociopath.
“They say money changes you but money just makes you more of what you already are” goes one of my favorite Little Brother lyrics. Money, fame and celebrity didn’t make Sorrentino a creepy, insecure womanizer; it merely exacerbated those qualities to comic, then disturbing levels.
If Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino has become a monster we’re partially to blame. Why wouldn't Sorrentino’s ego be raging out of control? If the world is willing to pay him fifty thousand dollars just to go to some party in Vegas, pose for photos and lift up his shirt gratuitously, why shouldn’t Sorrentino see the world as his oyster?
In the past, Sorrentino’s boasts about being the undisputed leader of the house (a claim disputed by many, if not all, of his housemates) came off as comic. Just like Sorrentino’s sex drive, it was too goofily over-the-top to seem serious or troubling. Last night, however, his need for control stopped being goofy and became disturbing and pathological, most notably when Sorrentino slapped a housemate in the mouth when she didn’t immediately acquiesce to his demand that they all leave the club because he’s not getting laid.
Last night we got to see what happens when Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino does not get his way. If women aren’t ogling his abs or giddily heading off to a nightclub bathroom for thirty seconds of degradation, Sorrentino reverts back into a petulant, spoiled child. If Sorrentino’s can’t have fun, no one can.
Sorrentino’s behavior even alarmed his ostensible wingman, DJ Pauly D, who looked on in disgust as Sorrentino glared at Vinnie hitting it off with a sweet young thing with undisguised jealousy and rage. When Vinnie headed to the bathroom, Sorrentino attempted what in Jersey Shore parlance is known as a “robbery” but, to her credit, the minx in question wasn’t having it.
Ever the optimist, DJ Pauly D was able to see the upside in hanging out with a potential date rapist: the grabbier, creepier and more aggressive Sorrentino seems, the classier and more gentlemanly DJ Pauly D is liable to seem by comparison. He’s no charmer but he doesn’t seem like a sexual criminal either. That, friends, is enough to make him a prince among men in the rancid swamp of human emptiness that is Jersey Shore.
Yet Sorrentino’s sad antics gave last night’s episodes a trainwreck fascination. His behavior bordered on criminal, yet it’s impossible to look away all the same. God damn you, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino: why must you be so compellingly awful and awfully compelling?