Friday, August 19, 2011

IA Stereotypes in a Nutshell

Our friend Greg over at the ItalianAware blog has a nice two-part post about IA stereotypes. It's called...wait for it..."Italian Stereotypes: An In Depth Look."

It's a very insightful piece of writing (as Greg's writing usually is).

Go check it out.

Part 1 is Here

Part 2 is Here

Both parts are pretty concise and an easy read.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

These are No Women of Respect

And I certainly don't feel sorry for any of them.

I'm talking about the women of "Mob Wives," yet another show from the Italian-American History Channel better known as VH1. Along with its sister channel MTV, these two channels are single-handedly responsible for setting back the Italian-American experience about 100 years.

But they're not what this is about.

This about a TV critic writing in the Orion (Illinois) Gazette online site. One Melissa Crawley.

In a review of the show "Mob Wives," our Ms. Crawley lets us know that "Mob Wives," while about Italian-American women (actually the ex-wives and daughters of mobsters) is in no way similar to other IA train wrecks like "Jersey Shore." Why? Well, I'll let Ms. Cawley explain it:

"The women of “Mob Wives” are rough and coarse and in many ways reflect just as poorly upon the media image of Italian-Americans as their fellow reality show casts. The difference is that unlike the casts who are basically drunk and/or stupid and happen to be of Italian descent, these women are documenting the harsh truth of one Italian-American experience."

In many ways reflect poorly on IAs? How about in every way?

But, hey, it gets better. This is my favorite part of the article:
"Their lives may reflect yet another all too familiar connection between crime and generations of Italians in America but that doesn't mean their voices should be ignored. I respect that they own the choices they made and are now painfully, sharing the fallout."
So, let me get this straight. They are more "real" than Snooki and the gang at "Jersey Shore" because these "Mob Wives" are/were married to and related to real-life mobsters.

These women have earned Ms. Cawley's respect because they "own" their choices. By owning I guess she means cashing in on their names–Gravano, et al. And they are "painfully" sharing the fallout. I guess by that she means they are finding it hard to live the life of luxury with their spouses/meal-tickets in prison.

My fellow IA blogger Greg has a great piece about our Ms. Cawley's review on his blog ItalianAware.

Life's tough when you have to "own" your choice of marrying a mobster, acquiring every piece of jewelry you ever wanted, eating at the best restaurants and being catered to because people fear your psychopath husband and his hair-trigger temper.

How about "owning" the choice your husband made to have his enemies killed? Or "owning" the killing of innocent bystanders who happened to be in the wrong spot at the wrong time when your husband was having an argument with one of his fellow mobsters.

These women don't deserve anyone's respect. And they certainly don't deserve to be paid to be on TV, pretending they're victims of their husband's crimes.

The women who truly deserve respect are the family members of those innocent victims killed by the "Mob Wives" husbands. The ones who live every day of their lives missing their spouses who were taken from them prematurely and violently. These women who don't go on TV complaining how hard their lives are because their low-life husbands are in jail and it's crimping their lifestyles are the ones who deserve our respect.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tired of Wise Guys They Ask? Yes, We Are!

It's bad enough that they have to use these creepy puppets, but Jack Daniels Kia (an automobile dealer) in Fair Lawn, NJ, thinks that having them be "Mafiosi" puppets will make you rush into their dealership and buy a Kia.


Check out this TV spot:

And this one:

They actually have two other similar TV spots on their web site. If you want to torture yourself, go take a look.

Better yet, if you're so inclined, write them and let them know how distasteful these commercials really are. Greg Zulli is their Director of Operations. Email him at and let him know what you think.

Did I mention Sheesh?

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Maybe Funny is Not the Way to Go

"You mean, let me understand this cause, ya know maybe it's me, I'm a little fucked up maybe, but I'm funny how, I mean funny like I'm a clown, I amuse you? I make you laugh, I'm here to fuckin' amuse you? What do you mean funny, funny how? How am I funny?" -- Tommy DeVito, "Goodfellas"

It starts out perfectly fine in a journalistic sense. But then, as usual, it degenerates into a jab, couched in humor and ends up as insulting.

I'm speaking of this article in the San Francisco Appeal Online Newspaper.

Why do reporters always try to be funny when writing about Italian-Americans? Do they think that this makes it acceptable to slap on the mob cliches and no one will notice?

It's a story about city Supervisor Michela Alioto-Pier taking offense at a "joke" made by the city's Planning Commissioner. The joke involved Sicilians, payoffs, and mobsters. All because the Planning Commissioner was asked if he planned to vote to permit a local restaurant to play amplified opera music.

Alioto-Pier may be a bit more sensitive to mob cracks because she is the granddaughter of former San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto, who in 1969 was accused of having mob ties.

The article is written very straightforward and starts out respectfully enough, save one crack about the Planning Commissioner being on Alioto-Pier's "hit list" because of the joke.

OK. That's innocent enough. You knew that in a story about Italian-Americans, there had to be at least one stupid crack.

But then, right at the end, there's this:

Irish jokes, French jokes and Canadian jokes may still be told with impunity, mostly because those cultures don't boast of scary-looking men in expensive suits (we kid, we kid! But that's why we don't tell Russian jokes.)

Totally unnecessary. It's not funny and it manages to disparage four nationalities at once.

If I was this reporter's editor I would have cut the entire sentence. That would have made it a much less insulting story.

Friday, September 24, 2010

This is the Problem

Why is it so hard to believe that Italian-Americans are discriminated against? Why is it so hard to believe that there is still institutional racism against IAs, especially in New York City?

After all, New York has had an IA governor (Mario Cuomo), New York City has had an IA mayor (Rudy Giuliani) and the state is on track to have another IA governor (Andrew Cuomo). So discrimination against IAs is dead right?

Um, not so much?

In an article in The New York Times recently about a group of IAs suing the City University of New York (CUNY) charging bias, reporter Lisa W. Foderaro finds it "surprising" that IAs are still discriminated against:

If the fierceness of the battle is not unusual — fights over affirmative action are a staple on campuses — what is surprising is the group waging it: Italian-Americans.

Why? Why is this so surprising Lisa. Do you think discrimination went away when Giuliani was voted in as mayor of New York City? Apparently so.

But with Cuomo and Giuliani, all this discrimination stuff is hsitory, right? Certainly according to Ada Meloy, general counsel of the American Council on Education.

This is what she told The New York Times:

“In the diversity of the community that is New York City, it seems particularly unusual that Italian-Americans would be considered disadvantaged,” she said. “After all, in New York we had an Italian-American governor, and we may have another one coming up.”

Huh? Oh, right, since Barack Obama got elected President of the United States, discrimination against African-Americans has disappeared too.

Just because there are seemingly large numbers of IAs working on the staffs of other colleges, and a fair amount in the CUNY system (about 7 percent, up slightly from 1981), that doesn't speak to their treatment as individuals and as a group. Particularly at CUNY colleges. And the funny part is that the current director of CUNY is an Italian-American.

State Senator Diane J. Savino of Staten Island, a Democrat and the president of the Conference of Italian-American Legislators in Albany, had this to say:

“Italian-Americans are the largest ethnic group in the state of New York, and people don’t see us in the traditional sense of being an affirmative action category — I get that. But we’ve seen systematic discrimination with respect to Italian educators by CUNY.”

And this has been going on for at least 35 years.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Yo Adrian! Rocky to Play Gotti in Bio Pic

Apparently Sylvester Stallone is all set to play infamous mobster John Gotti in an as yet unnamed movie about the "Dapper Don's" life.

Want to place any bets on how long it'll take before the IA organizations start to complain that Sly is trashing his heritage and spitting on IAs everywhere?

According to an exclusive by TMZ, Sly is collaborating with John Gotti Jr. (known as Junior to his friends, though he's technically not a junior, since his name is John Angelo Gotti III and the elder Gotti's name is John Joseph Gotti Jr., but I digress) on the story of his late father's life. The elder Gotti died in prison in 2002.

They're about to pick a screenwriter for the project, TMZ notes.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Animated Gavones Have IA Organizations Up in Arms

The highly sensitive, over-reactionary Italian-American organizations are up in arms over William Shatner's (yes, that William Shatner, a.k.a. Captain Kirk) new Web-only cartoon series, "The Gavones."

It seems that "The Gavones" is a mob family from New Jersey recently moved out to Hollywood to make movies. Sound familiar?

Naturally, since the protagonists are Italian-American, the orgs are against it – for all their usual reasons. However, I've seen the pilot episode and I don't find anything offensive about it. It's not terribly funny and deals in cliches, but it's not terribly offensive. Other episodes apparently have been "coming soon" since last May. But the pilot is not terribly offensive.

But UNICO, for instance, thinks it's "incredibly offensive" and that Shatner should apologize to IAs for it. Shatner should apologize for "The Gavones," but not for it being offensive, for it being boring.

In a press release UNICO National President Andre DiMino said Shatner is a coward.

"It appears that the damage stereotyping causes has been lost on Shatner, who for many years was stereotyped and typecast as Captain Kirk, blocking him from many roles in Hollywood," DiMino said. "Instead, Captain Kirk has cowardly gone, where many have gone before him - launching a cheap broadside on the Italian-American community via the stereotype of the mob. I wish I could flip open my own Communicator and have Scotty beam Kirk to an alternative universe where we wouldn't have to hear from this very tacky overexposed persona."
Fine. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. And apparently DiMino thinks this cartoon is offensive. And if he would have left it at that his argument might carry some weight.

But the problem with UNICO President DiMino's criticism of Shatner – and others' as well – is that they are not content with just calling him out for what they consider his bias against IAs. They have to throw in their little digs against his character as well. Their argument would carry more weight and I would take their criticism more seriously if they didn't act like eight-year-olds in their press release.

For example, DiMino has this to say about Shatner:
"The sad reality is that there are not many Italians in powerful positions in Hollywood, and the stereotypical ethnic-bashing cartoon that Shatner is championing underscores that," DiMino said. "Even for Shatner, who embarrasses himself routinely as a classless pitchman and an anything-for-a-buck shill, this is a new low."
Shather "embarrasses himself" and is a "classless pitchman." Apparently an actor who makes a commercial is a "classless pitchman."

DiMino should know about being "classless," as this press release shows. And if that wasn't enough, DiMino makes sure to point out at the beginning of the press release that Shatner is Canadian. As if that has any bearing on the situation whatsoever.

As I said, "The Gavones" doesn't offend me. It doesn't entertain me either. What offends me are the national IA orgs that claim to speak for all IAs and embarrass themselves – and by extension all IAs – with their "classless" press releases and their ineffectual outrage.