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  • Most Italian-Italians, the ones from Italy, that is, always seem to be curious as to how we Italian-Americans are perceived by others in America. With all the news they’ve heard of Italian stereotypes in America, like the ones put forward in “The Godfather,” “The Sopranos,” “Mafia Wars,” and “The Jersey Shore,” I understand what they expect.
  • Op-Eds
    Fred Gardaphe(February 09, 2010)
    If you believe that the “Jersey Shore” show of MTV is really gangsters without guns, then you should do something about it. But since when have we become afraid of our youth? Since when has the public behavior of seven 20-something kids been something to pay attention to? This shows that kids don’t really know what it means to be Italian American outside of their family; it also shows that we probably don’t know our kids as well as we think we do. ... So don’t blame MTV; we have failed ourselves. We may think we have created Italian America, but we have yet to create Italian Americans.
  • This colloquium is not about the MTV show “Jersey Shore” and it does not justify it in any manner. This colloquium is about the phenomenon of the “Guido” that, regardless of its merits or lack thereof, has its origins and is associated with Italians in America. Whether one likes it or not, this component of Italian-American youth—an articulation of cultural expression, call it what one wishes—does exist. We are not asking anyone “to accept” this or any other “sub-culture” that may exist in the Italian-American community. Yet, precisely because this culture has been show-cased on television, and precisely because it has remained unknown to many, we need to be sure that we can speak to it in an informed manner.
  • The Director of “Pane Amaro” (Bitter Bread), an acclaimed doumentary about the life and history of early Italian immigrats in the U.S., talks about whether sweeping dirt under the rug is the way to deal with undesirable facts. His film touched upon several diffucult topics, including he lynching of thirty-nine Italian immigrants across the United States between 1886 and 1916. “Occasionally you do find some people who, when faced with difficult, uneasy subjects, react by closing their eyes; they prefer not to know about them and even try to prevent you from talking about them. They use a metaphor, you know, they say that we shouldn’t ‘wash our dirty laundry in public’. And I think it doesn’t advance the conversation. I do believe that we need to explore difficult issues such as this."
  • There is nothing new in certain segments of the community trying to impose their views of what it means to be Italian American on others. This controversy reminds me of recent tensions around the celebration of Columbus Day. On the one hand, identifying with the discoverer of their adopted land was an ideal strategy to gain full inclusion into mainstream America. But on the other hand, in today’s era of multiculturalism with a rhetoric that celebrates cultural diversity, the “discovery” of America by Columbus is equated with the beginnings of the demise of native peoples and their cultures. And there are already many Italian Americans who do not celebrate Columbus Day because of what Columbus has come to represent. It seems to me that this desire to squelch any consideration of the so-called “Guido culture” is a similar attempt by some to impose a uniform identity on a diverse group.
  • Op-Eds
    Joey Skee(January 20, 2010)
    A social scientist’s take on guidos, prominenti, and intellectual inquiry.
  • Italian Americans should put an end to their obsession with their image in the television media. Television, in general, tends to caricature reality; it likes showing things that are over the top. This is not about Italian Americans—it is about the media, it's about "reality show." The controversy about MTV's Jersey Shore and the Calandra Institute's colloquium on the "Guido lifestyle" should not be resolved by censorship. It is only through dialogue that you are going to better understand these complex issues of ethnic identity and the media, and further the discussion. Censoring dialogue is always a dangerous act. It reveals a kind of ethnic nationalism that is only about pride and doesn’t allow for any kind of questioning or dissent.
  • The "Guido/Goomba/Cugine" is a very distinctive-looking, working-class East Coast Italian-American. The whole lifestyle may seem shallow or strange to some, but “authentic” Italian-American life does not have to revolve around formal language, Renaissance art or the opera. This is indeed a subculture that is very complex and needs exploration—not shunning and shame. There can be civil discussions about all these differences, but there should never be any mean-spirited debates on which is right or wrong.
  • What is this guido thing? Is it pure caricature put on us by the outside world, or do we have an active part in it? Is it lifestyle or demeaning stereotype? A (former guido) brother who now teaches environmental engineering, and a (longtime anti-guido) sister who is now an actress, writer and filmmaker, look back.

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