- Category: Volume 87 (Fall 2015 - Spring 2016)
- Published: 30 September 2015
- Written by RICHARD FELICETTI | ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR
NJ has never received the kindest reviews. Woody Allen once said, “I believe there’s an intelligence to the universe, with the exception of certain parts of NJ.” To further his point, NJ has recently been named as the least liked state in America.
According to a survey by YouGov, the Garden State was the only state in the nation that Americans viewed unfavorably. Forty percent of subjects gave NJ a negative rating, the worst reviews of all 50 states. Second to NJ was AL which also received an unflattering review.
Caroline Shanahan, a sophomore nursing major, said she cannot understand why the general public perceives NJ so harshly.
“I don’t know why people hate NJ,” said Shanahan. “I have lived here for most of my life and I love it here.”
According to the YouGov report, many observers view the state as a combination of MTV’s Jersey Shore, HBO’s The Soprano’s, and the industrial landscape along the I-95 that inspired the musical works of Bruce Springsteen.
Dr. Christopher DeRosa, an Associate Professor and the Director of the University’s History Program, noted that a number of factors may be the cause of the public perception of the state.
“One [factor] is that New Yorkers often define themselves against New Jersey, or their stereotypes of NJ. In the mid-twentieth century, NYC was the cultural and financial capital of the west and had the ear of the world. Therefore the local variety of the typical jibes city people direct at the people in outlying communities got a wide broadcast,” said DeRosa.
DeRosa added that unionized jobs, quality schools, and pleasant surroundings are abundant in NJ, more so than any other state in the nation. Although there may be jealousy from the states in which these luxuries are not present, he noted that NJ is still the most densely populated state, particularly around NYC and Philadelphia.
“The Jersey suburbs’ cities being on the other side of state boundaries meant that whatever negativity accrued to the state’s suburbs was not offset by the charms of a major metropolis. But what is seldom acknowledged, in the rush to dump on the suburbs, is that they represent the achievement of the American dream for a broad swath of the middle class.”
The YouGov report described NJ residents as “unusually likely to take a hardnosed attitude toward life.” Contrarily, HI, the famously relaxed state, was rated the most favorably.
Jake Marciniak, a sophomore business major, said he blames social media and reality television shows for the negative opinions of his home state.
Most notably, Jersey Shore, a reality show which centers around a group of young adults as they live it up in Seaside Heights, NJ, has brought the state a tremendous amount of criticism.
“Personally, there should not be any state that becomes singled out by such a denomination because each one has their positive and negative aspects,” said Marciniak. “I personally love this state and the abundances that can be had here. We are an international melting pot and there are so many different cultures represented in this state.”
Marciniak noted that in order to change these views, residents must make apparent the plethora of luxuries the state has to offer, such as the delectable restaurants, the bustling beach towns, and the scenic areas.
According to 50states.com, NJ is home to the most diners in the world, and is often referred to as the diner capital of the world.
Additionally, NJ has 130 miles of coastline, according to visitnj.org. As Marciniak noted, these aspects of the state are the most coveted and should be enjoyed by all.
Dr. Richard Veit, Professor of Anthropology and Chair of the Department of History and Anthropology at the University, said he was surprised by the result, as NJ has a rich history with great cultural diversity and has made tremendous advancements in the arts, science, and medicine. Veit, who teaches a course on the history of the state, added that the NJ has a high standard of living, a highly educated population, and is a place of great natural beauty.
“I don’t think NJ is hated. It may, however, be misunderstood, by folks whose only experience of the state is traveling the Turnpike or flying into Newark Airport,” said Veit. “I think the antidote is for more people to visit the state and see all that it has to offer, from Cape May to High Point.”
SECOND AND THIRD IMAGE TAKEN from imfdb.org/wiki/Sopranos,_The and thetrojanhotelandtaproom.com