Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Negative Portrayals of Italian-Americans in the Media Must End

Welcome to the Italian-Americans Against Media Stereotypes blog, better known as IAAMS (not to be confused with the company that makes pet food, which by the way only has one “a”!).

On a regular basis, this blog will alert you to advertisements, statements, broadcasts, articles and anything else I can find that portray Italian-Americans (and Italians, too, for that matter) as buffoons, Mafiosi, idiots, morons and other negative stereotypes. The purpose of this blog is to point out these instances and hopefully enlighten you to the problem of negative media portrayals – if you’re motivated to write a letter or send an email to the offending party, all the better.

This blog is not about censorship. I do not advocate (as some groups out there do) that Italian-American actors who portray Mafiosi on TV and in the movies should be ashamed of themselves and never work again because of it. I will not demand that a particular television network pull a show or series off the air because it may portray Italian-Americans in a negative light. But I will point out that it is happening and you can either stop watching the show (which is the best course of action – if the ratings slide, the show will eventually be cancelled) or write a letter or send an email to the network’s president and let it be known that you don’t appreciate the negative portrayal. I’ll also point out any instances of positive portrayals of Italian-Americans in the media (though unfortunately, those posts probably will be few and far between).

I hope you find this blog entertaining, informative and maddening. Italian-Americans are one of the few ethnic groups left that the media feels are fair game for negative stereotyping (along with gays and blondes!). To borrow a phrase from the movie Network,“We’re mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.”

If you come across an instance of negative stereotyping in your local newspaper, a magazine, on TV, radio or the Internet, drop me an Email and let me know. I’ll be happy to blog about it and hopefully together we can help change the all-to-pervasive negative images of Italian-Americans in the media today.


petrella said...

As a second generation italian american I also understand your point,,but after all-the mafioso was a necessary part of italy at one time,,and they just carried it over in a different way. There are many cultures who are also portrayed as goombas. I embrace it as a part of our growth,,and if it brings some fun or happiness to others from us italiano americans,GREAT! There is actually a little history in those shows at times. Grazie,

Anonymous said...

For all of the vitriol levied against portrayals of Italians in film and television- let's take the example of The Godfather-are there any specific cases where people of Italian heritage have been denied access to housing, education or employment due to the film's "anti-Italian stereotyping"?
Specific charges have been made by vocal Italian American groups, but can they cite actual bonafide cases where Italian-Americans suffered because of the film? I am not referring to dumb ethnic jokes or bigotry that existed long before "The Godfather" either. As a proud Italian American, I have never experienced overt discrimination due to media stereotypes.
Ninety-nine percent of Italian Americans are successful individuals from all walks of life and the entertainment industy's portrayal of Mafia hoods, dumbells and organ grinding buffoons in all reality, shows how removed these images are from what we actually represent. Since the publication of Mario Puzo's Mafia bestseller, hundreds of thousands of people of Italian backgrounds have received university degrees, formed successful businesses, entered the professions and politics, purchased homes and risen to the top tier of American society. All in the shadow of pervasive media stereotyping.
If anyone has specific evidence(not anecdotal) of these media images really harming American citizens of Italian heritage I would like to know about them.

Jaggerfan1 said...

I have a step father who is of Italian descent and he certainly isn't involved in organized crime or anything. He works the 3rd shift at a bank. I frankly don't understand how the stereotype of Italians and their association with the Mafia or La Cosa Nostra for the Italian speakers out there ever got started. And it does surprise alot that I have an Italian stepfather, but I don't look at it that way. I hate when people use racial slurs against Italians. My dad will joke around about that stuff, sorry, it's offensive. And if u know me like my friends do, they know I hate racist slurs. I may not be Italian, but I hang around alot of people who are Italian, my stepdad's family. I love being around them at Christmas, it's fun. like a big party. But I just don't like Italian slurs being used by people who are ignorant of the rich, lovely Italian culture!

Jaggerfan1 said...

I'm clueless about how the stereotype of Italians and their association with the mob got started,around where i live, there is a big festival that celebrates the rich Italian culture. I'm not Italian, but I go to this festival and man is it fun! I have a stepdad who is of Italian descent and he's the coolest guy ever!