Is there any better Italian gangster then the Godfather? Or should I say any better stereotype of an Italian gangster then the Godfather?
The portrayal of mobsters and gangsters in U.S motion pictures productions create a heavy stereotype of American-Italians being in controlling and dangerous. Yes the media is what puts these ideas into the audience mind; if we think about the ‘hypodermic needle theory’ the audience is being injected with these negative ideas of American-Italians. So what are some of the most common stereotypes when it comes to thinking about Italians, they love their pasta, they have a link to the mafia. They often say ‘Mamma mia’ and ‘thatsa spicy meataball’. I will look into media examples to see whether American-Italians have a negative stereotype and research into whether the stereotype has changed over the times.
The first stereotype that comes to mind it ‘The Godfather” How he has so much power over his family the by being the ‘Don’, as will has the gelled back hair and the Italian speech, This film plays to the stereotype of violence. In the short trailer for ‘The godfather’ (1972) I counted a minimum of eight act/reference to violence. The other stereotype this movie playing to it the sense of family being the most important part you mess with one member of the family you mess with them all.
Then we turn to the ‘Goodfellas’ (1990) which is kind of a add on to the Godfather as it is more looking at the ‘gangster’ on the streets instead of in the family. But again it has more violence then I can count, and they have the fancy suites and talk with an American ‘jerseys’ accent, which is another stereotype that most American-Italians come from Jersey. With reality shows like ‘Jersey Shore’ it doesn’t help their case. The show plays to the stereotypes and instead of trying use the show to change the stereotype to a positive, it has fallen to criticism and views getting offended. By the use of the ‘G’ word, “guido”, which people of similar ethnicity to the people on the some do not like.
But when ever there is a with anything what has a stereotype, you will get parodies to the stereotype, other forms of media trying to play on what we know so well, for example ‘Fat Tony’ from ‘The Simpsons’. They have created a character they know will fit into ever stereotype they can through at an American-Italian. They was he clearly gets away with the crimes in ‘Springfield’.
A modern example of a gangster movie that doesn’t have the stereotypical Italian’s has the bad guys and controlling the cops. But the 40s style with is what gives it’s gangsta feel, with out the clothing its just a good cop bad cop movie.
However there are many negative examples on Italians, but there are a few positive ones, like ‘Joey’ from ‘Friends’ and ‘Danny Castellano’ from ‘The mindy Project’ they both fit into the loving American-Italians. One stereotype which will be consistent no matter what, which may not be a stereotype is Italians are always looking after if not family, the men look after their mothers. As on friends Joey has referenced this family many time, and I even remember he got mad at his best friend for hurting his little sister. And Danny in ‘The Mindy project’ he always tries to do the best for his mother. I feel these are the true representation of Italians in America. But with anything there will be positive and negatives. In teams of Italians, the media and us as the audience like seeing a bad/gangsters Italian.