Over the years I have written numerous letters to the local newspapers expressing my disgust and anger over the media’s constant portrayal of Italians as Mafiosi. Frankly, programs such as “The Sopranos” 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 mankind. Worse yet, shows like The Sopranos 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; television gives them people like Tony and “Junior” Soprano to copy.
It is a 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 about the careers and infamous acts of people like Alphonse Capone, Carlo Gambino, John Gotti, Joseph Bonnano and Vito Genovese. Any show that stereotypes a group of people should be pulled off the air. These programs are not funny! They can only help to reinforce stupid prejudices and bigotry.
As such The Sopranos such be taken off the air before it does any more harm. And, people that enjoy this show, especially Italians, need to take a good look at themselves because they are part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Once more, I state that I am sick and tired of the asinine “Al Capone” stereotyping. Concerned Italian-Americans should not only ban The Sopranos from their living rooms. They should also encourage their young to focus on the good deeds that their ancestors accomplished; people like Dr. Michael Conti. Forget about the gangsters and fictional characters from a Mario Puzo novel or screenplay. These people are the overstated, over-emphasized minority. Focus on the positive contributions that Italians have made in the world.
Dr. John DiGenio