Monday, June 19, 2006

Finally, Some Positive Role Models for Kids

I saw the movie Cars over the weekend with my wife and daughter. It was very cute and fun to sit through, though a bit long for a four-year-old.

I was happy to see that Disney-Pixar did not succumb to the all too easy temptation to make some Italian characters gangsters. There were two Italian characters in the movie, Guido and Luigi. Luigi owns the tire shop and Guido works for him. They were cute and funny (despite Luigi's cliche heavy Italian accent). There was not one mention of gangsters, the Mafia or anything else negative in these characters.

Bravo Disney-Pixar.

Go see Cars. It's a fun movie. And the kids will love it.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Hey Goomba!

Apparently there's a storm brewing up in Shodack, New York over the name of a planned local pizza restaurant.

According to The Independent, the owners want to name the restaurant Goomba's. Some on the planning board think that it's an offensive term and a slur to Italian-Americans. Others are not so sure.

I think that Goomba is such a mild word that it's hardly offensive. Traditionally it means "friend" or "buddy," but lately has come to be used as a derogatory reference to Italian-Americans, such as "dago," "wop" or "greaseball." I am not offended by the term "Goomba." I consider it a term of endearment, like "paisan."

Of all the offenses and slurs against IAs out there, this one would fall way down on the list.

Friday, June 09, 2006

This is Disturbing on So Many Levels...

...that I don't even know where to begin.

There's a site called Gino the Ginny that features a video of what looks like a 10 or 11 year old boy dressed in a gold chain and a T-shirt, dancing around and cursing in a bad "Brooklyn" accent. It also has a bunch of photos of the kid in various poses, all with him gesturing with his hands a lot.

What's so disturbing is not that the site is one big cliche, or that it is highly offensive to Italian-Americans, but that the kid obviously was put up to it by someone older who should know better.

This site is offensive, plain and simple. I suspect it's intended as a parody. And the kid looks like he could be Italian-American. He's probably from New York, since there's a photo of him on his MySpace site in front of the Unisphere from the 1964 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Park in Queens. But it's not funny. It's not even mildly humorous.

Besides, if you intend to parody something, it helps to actually spell it correctly. The site is obviously meant to be Gino the Guinea not Ginny (pronounced gin [like the liquor] - ee).

Monday, June 05, 2006

Say Cheese. But it Better be in English.

Apparently Italian-Americans are capable of racism and stereotypical thinking too. Who knew?

According to an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly's favorite son, Joseph Vento, owner of Geno's Steaks in South Philly, would like you to order your cheesesteaks in English. Don't you dare try it in any other language because he'll ignore you.

According to the newspaper:

It seems that Joseph Vento, Geno's owner, feels strongly that everyone in this country ought to speak English - even if they're tourists from faraway climes looking for that fabled Philly cheesesteak fix.

Vento insists his customers order in English. No pointing at the menu items. Speak English, a sign at Vento's popular, curbside counter reads.

The paper points out that Vento's Italian-born grandparents, who were immigrants to this country, spoke little English.

How times have changed.

Vento went so far as to put up a sign at Geno's stating his new English-only policy. Apparently the fact that South Philly, once the home of Philly's Little Italy, is quickly becoming Little Mexico, does not sit well with some of the old-timers.

I wonder how Vento would react is someone came up to him and ordered a cheesesteak in Italian?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

So many Cliches. So Little Space.

It's amazing how many cliched stereotypes about Italian-Americans one can fit into a measly 238 words about Hillary Clinton introducing her husband (Former President Bill Clinton for those who just arrived from Mars) at a Sons of Italy function.

In an unsigned blog entitled "He Sleeps with the Fishes" on the conservative online site, Human Events Online, the writer had a bit of fun with Hillary Clinton's bumping guest Joe Mantegna at the last minute. Here's what he (or she) had to say about the event:

Last Thursday, Bill Clinton gave the keynote address to the 18th annual Sons of Italy gala in DC. He was originally supposed to be introduced by celebrity Italian-American Joe Mantegna, who is best known for his Italiocentric roles in Godfather III, The Last Don I and II, and in The Simpsons as "Fat Tony." But hours before the event, Mantegna was whacked by one of the most ruthless and remorseless bosses around–Hillary. According to Roll Call, she told the event organizers that she would be introducing her husband, and apparently it was an offer they couldn't refuse. So goodbye, Tony-award winning Italian American, hello WASP woman who is looking for Italian-American votes in 2006 and beyond.

You can read the whole blog here.

It's truly a masterful job of writing, considering the subject was Hillary Clinton and not Joe Mantegna. To be fair, the writer also dissed Hillary and Bill as well, alluding to their sex life in the piece.