I saw Sofia Coppola’s film Somewhere last night and while I was underwhelmed (it’s no Lost in Translation), I was struck by a line of dialogue. During a press junket with foreign reporters hurling questions at the film’s main character, Johnny Marco, an anomic actor of second-rate m
ovies, the disembodied voice of an “Italian journalist” asks, “How do you think this role represents Italian Americans?”
Online reviews reference this query as illustrating “the staggering inanity of film journalists.” This throwaway line is also curious because it points to the various ways anti-defamation efforts are perceived as a punch line for TV and film directors, comedians, bloggers, and others.
“The Sopranos” was particularly adept at critiquing anti-defamation protests by the national organizations, often before they had time to do so.
The agita du jour is about the fourth season of “Jersey Shore” being filmed in Italy, a country whose lecherous 74-year-old Prime Minister could easily serve as the MTV reality show’s thematic godfather. (The self-proclaimed, Italian-American spokespeople are silent about the embarrassment that is Berlusconi.) In a nanosecond comes a hilarious take from Taiwan, a video animation with the increasingly de rigueur joke that is anti-defamation outrage.
Instead of bemoaning the latest shenanigans of a bunch of Jersey guidos, we should unite and raise our collective voices to condemn Sofia Coppola’s outrageous denigration of Italian American heritage-culture-tradition-legacy-patrimony in her depiction of Johnny Marco’s culinary habits. In one revealing scene, the Italian-American actor is seen eating pasta like a gavon, slurping the dangling strands of spaghetti that stretch from his mouth to the plate below.
Italian Americans know how to twirl spaghetti! Che vergogna, Sofia!
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