Over the years, I have written numerous letters to the local newspapers expressing my total disgust and anger over the media’s constant portrayal of Italians as criminals and Mafiosi. Frankly, films which stereotype Italians as violent, vicious murderers, and gangsters hurt the image of all Italians and cheapen the contributions that Italians have made to better humanity. Worse yet, those kinds of movies give young Italian-Americans a “negative” role model.
While young Italian-Americans should be embracing and emulating the positive, life-affirming attributes of their great countrymen, such as Galileo Galilee, Leonardo da Vinci, and Guglieimo Marconi; Hollywood gives them unscrupulous characters contained within cheap celluloid crud to copy.
It is a crying shame; but, I would wager that most Italian-Americans don’t know who Giuseppe Garibaldi, Alessandro Manzoni, Giuseppe Verdi and Antonio Lucio Vivaldi were. However, sadly, they’ll be able to tell you – with a bizarre sense of pride no less – all about the infamous careers and nefarious acts of people like Alphonse Capone, Carlo Gambino, John Gotti, Joseph Bonnano, and Vito Genovese. Any movie or television program that stereotypes a group of people should be pulled. Those films only reinforce outrageous prejudices and bigotry.
As for the people that enjoy those kinds of films, they need to take a very good look at themselves because, in reality, they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Once more, I emphatically state that I am sick and tired of the asinine “Al Capone” stereotyping. Concerned Italian-Americans should not only ban films or television shows that portray Italians in a bad light from their living rooms. They should also encourage their young to focus on the good deeds that local Italian-Americans have accomplished: People like Dr. Michael Conti, Lucy DeStefano, Tom Favia, and Lou Scialli. Forget about the gangsters and fictional characters from a Mario Puzo novel or screenplay. Those characters are the overstated, over-emphasized minority. Focus on the positive contributions that Italians have made in the world.
John Di Genio