Thursday, March 13, 2014

More on the portrayal of Italians in American culture---'Twins', the movie

Because looking through the stats I saw that a previous post mentioning the movie was getting some traffic, but I hadn't really made this connection then. In 'Twins' with Danny DeVito and Arnold Schwarzenegger, a group of Nobel winning scientists come together to create the perfect man, donating their sperm. But there's a problem, instead of one they get two, with all of the goodness going into one and 'All the shit', as the movie calls it, going into the other.

Now, Danny DeVito plays a short corrupt alcoholic Italian private detective with his trademark Brooklyn accent, while Schwarzenegger plays the ideal man with his Austrian accent. I would submit that if instead of a curly haired, dark, short, Italian the character DeVito plays had been cast as a curly haired, dark, short, hook nosed, person of Jewish descent there would have been protests in the streets. The film would have been labeled as a second coming of "Der Stumer", with all the vile anti-semitic stereotypes that that embodied. But because it featured an Italian, ah, well, it's just humor, come on, why are you so sensitive?

We have interesting blind spots for sensitivity in this country. On the one hand, having too much of an interest in things German such as German philosophy or music, without there being any reference whatsoever to people who are Jewish, Judaism in general, Nazism, or racism, can get one suspected of being a Nazi and an anti-Semite, particularly if you like Nietzsche and talk about him a lot. On the other, actually portraying people who are Italian as being corrupt, vulgar, alcoholics is something that people shouldn't be so sensitive about.   Besides, those Italians, they're all emotional, it's just the way they are, they don't really think things through rationally, they always complain about these things.

I could go on, but, yeah, with all of our political correctness and hyper tolerance for anyone, anywhere, making any objection whatsoever about something being offensive, nevertheless, people who raise the flag of derogatory stereotypes in the media about Italians are routinely dismissed.

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