Monday, December 17, 2007

Two Stereotypes for the Price of One


Just in time for Christmas comes this little tidbit about the 1994 remake of the holiday classic film Miracle on 34th Street.

The altogether terrible remake of the 1947 classic features a drunken department store Santa Claus, as does the original. In both films, the "real" Santa Claus takes the drunk to task for letting the children down and setting a lousy example.

In the original, the part of "Drunken Santa Claus" was uncredited and played by actor Percy Helton. The 1994 remake -- for no apparent reason -- chose to retain the character, but renamed him Tony Falacchi!

The Falacchi character in the remake is played by Jack McGee, probably best known to audiences as Chief Jerry Reilly on Denis Leary's firefighter TV series "Rescue Me."

In one fell swoop, the producers of the 1994 remake of Miracle on 34th Street managed to shoehorn in two stereotypes. One against Italian-Americans for giving a drunk character an Italian name -- for no apparent reason. And the other against the Irish, for hiring an Irish actor to play a drunk, albeit a drunken Italian in this case.

1 comment:

Hairy Soap said...

Hello. I like what you're doing with your blog. I wish there were more people doing what you do. I found your blog by doing a search on google. Unfortunately, most of the websites that came up were devoted to the history of the mafia, with very few reactions AGAINST its often glamorized portrayal in American media.

As an Irish-American, I'm often shocked at how racism against people of Irish descent is perpetuated so blatantly. Most Paddy's Day celebrations are just plain depressing, as the day is more or less a reinforcement of stereotypes that were perpetuated and lampooned by American aristocrats in the 19th century. And it would have been nice if Scorsese's "The Departed" would have taken a moment to address the issues of the poor people living in Boston during Whitey Bulger's criminal regime, scared for their lives if they were even rumored to be conferring with the FBI.

Anyway, I always feel a sense of solidarity when someone from any background has grounds to object to popular, offensive or outright racist portrayals of their people. Keep up the good work.

Jack
Oakland, CA