Main | Americans-in-Italy Syllabus »

09/23/2015

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Danese

From the start of the article I identified with it in a big way. I myself am half Italian and half Chinese, with both of cultures playing into my life in profound ways. I grew up with one set of grandparents being called “Nonnie” and “Papa” while the other set was called “Kon Kon” and “Who Who”, my family has always laughed if we have kids will they call my dad “papa” and my mom “Who Who”.

This mixture of cultures I live by parallels the way I look.The constant question of “What are you?” by people I just met is such a common occurrence it doesn’t phase me anymore. Then they guess I am Filipino, Islander, Latino, Chinese, Jewish, European, or anything else; Astoundingly, I have heard them all and more. I believe the author accurately summed up the feeling when other people feel the need to “figure you out”.

Growing up with strict Catholic and very old Italian values grandparents has shaped the way I have viewed Italians, Italian Americans, and myself. The stereotypes I have derived from my experience with my family, and the media has played a part in the way I recognized the stereotypes we fit and the ones we do not.

The first thing that comes to mind is congratulating those who made it through Catholic school alive. I never attended one myself, but my grandmother was a Catholic school teacher and while I love her, I would not have survived. That describes a common difficult Catholic school stereotype, I have heard it on TV multiple times. Then I get descriptions from my dad, who did attend Catholic school, speaking how some nuns did take tougher disciplinary action.

Another extremely common stereotype is the fact that many Italians wave their hands about or make large motions when they talk. I did not recognize this as an Italian stereotype until classmates actually pointed this out to me early on. Any of my friends will be able to tell you how much I unconsciously use my hands when I speak, and I know I get it from my family. In fact, there has been many dinners where we get into talking and laughing, then someone's motions (most likely my nonnie’s) will knock over a wine glass and make a mess. When I first started taking Sign Language people would joke that since I was Italian I already spoke sign. This is one of the most common stereotypes for me, and it may be annoying sometimes, but there are definitely worse ones that could be inflicted.

Additionally a stereotype I have heard through television and my family alike has been the Italian love for wine, particularly red. I can not speak for any other Italian or Italian American, but I know how much my family enjoys sitting around the table talking over a bottle of red wine. Also I know the large amounts of red wine is produced in Italy, but stereotypes are difficult because they can never speak for everyone of a culture.

From my experience in their common stereotypes I do believe them to be as close to accurate as stereotypes can be. I have never watched Jersey Shore, and could really not have thought of any other stranger stereotypes I am sure the media has thrust upon Italians, aside from the stereotypical picture of a man in a striped shirt pushing a boat in Venice. Throughout this course I am excited to see what the true Italian life is like, and live the culture my nonnie is always talking about.

Performing Artist

In my past that I can recall, I don’t remember learning very much about Italy, nor can I recall believing in many Italian stereotypes. I have only heard of a short few stereotypes of Italians that Americans have created. There are a few movies I can remember that I’ve watched in the past that have Italian characters in them. One of them is called “Poor Little Rich Girl”, a Shirley Temple movie made in the year 1936, and though I don’t remember a lot of what happens in the story, I do remember that at one point the character Barbara (played by Shirley Temple) spends some time living with an Italian family. The Father and Mother were overweight and talked loudly with much enthusiasm and gesticulated with gusto. I suppose this was a stereotype Americans had created for Italians, and I think this stereotype of Italians’ appearances and mannerisms still stands. Additionally, there was a scene where Barbara and the Italian family sat a table and ate large quantities of spaghetti and meatballs. I believe this was most likely another stereotype Americans created of Italian culture; Italians all eat a lot of spaghetti. There was a comparable scene from the Disney movie “Lady And The Tramp” where the two main dog characters eat spaghetti and meatballs at an Italian restaurant. The Italian waiter had the same looks and persona as the Italian characters in “Poor Little Rich Girl.” “Lady and the Tramp” was created in 1955, about 20 years after the Shirley Temple movie. This could be proof that Americans believed in the same Italian stereotypes throughout this time in history, probably starting way back before the 1930s and most likely continuing to later in the 20th century.
One other movie I can recall is “Rocky” from 1976. The character Rocky was an Italian-American boxer, however, he did not have the stereotypical physical appearance or persona of an Italian if we compare him to the chef in “Lady And The Tramp” and the Father and Mother in “Poor Little Rich Girl.” I don’t recollect a scene in the movie where Rocky eats spaghetti, so this stereotype wasn’t displayed either.
The fourth movie - which I actually watched a few months earlier - I have watched that have Italian characters in it is called “Spy” starring Melissa McCarthy. There was an Italian character named Aldo (played by Peter Serafinowicz) who had was attractive in appearance and had an extremely flirty and sexually explicit personality. He practically sexually harassed Melissa’s character on numerous occasions throughout the course of the film. I have heard from many people that Italian men have a habit of behaving in this sort of fashion (though not as exaggerated as Aldo). Furthermore, Aldo was also a reckless driver to the extreme, an Italian stereotype that I have heard is also a true fact.
In the past few weeks, I’ve taken it upon myself to learn about Italy by searching the web, reading Rick Steve’s travel guides, and watching documentaries. I believe Rick Steve’s travel books and documentaries to be useful guides to learn about Italy, so I’ve watched one short documentary about Florence and one about Rome. He mainly describes historical architecture, art, and the delicious food in his shows. After watching these episodes, my ideas about Italians are that they seem friendly, serve great food in their restaurants, and are not so much unlike Americans.

Chanok

Italian stereotypes in Korea

I am Korean. I was born in Korea. I grew up in Korea. I had never been America before I started to study in Foothill last year(Except 2 days of Seattle trip). I just arrived in Italy 3 weeks ago and I have to answer a question for the first discussion which is about stereotypes about Italy and about Italian-Americans. Since I know only one Italian-American, Anthony DiNozzo, who is a character in a TV show NCIS, I decided to forget about Italian-American but focus on Italian stereotypes in Korea.

One of the Italian stereotypes in Korea is that Italians are extremely crazy about football. Most of Koreans think that Italian’s love for football is overly passionate and it makes Italians violent and lost their reasons when they are in football-related situations. This negative prejudice became stronger after the 2002 World Cup. In the games, Korean football team made it to the round of 16 by beating the powerful Portugal. It was the first time in Korean football history that Korean team advanced to Round of 16 in the World Cup. In the Round of 16, Korean football player Jung Hwan Ahn scored a goal against Italy during the overtime and the goal elevated the team into the quarter-final. The problem appeared after the match. Ahn was a member of AC Perugia which is a professional football team in the Italian football league ‘Serie A’. The team canceled Ahn's contract after the match and the owner of the team ‘Luciano Gaucci’ said "I have no intention of paying a salary to someone who has ruined Italian soccer." Ahn’s car in Perugia was broken by Italian football fans and he received death threats too. This was one of the biggest football issue during the 2002 World Cup.

The issue established a negative image of Italy in Korea very quickly, easily and efficiently. Most of Koreans were watching the World Cup game and listening to the sport news. They were catching on fire by the incredible result of the game(In the end, South Korea got the 4th place of the 2002 World Cup) and also heard a news that the Korean football hero who made the team reach to quarter-final was suddenly removed from his professional football team because he was so good against Italian team. You are very happy because of what you have just got and you heard a news that a guy who gave you the happiness got hurt from someone. Now, you will be an extreme hater of the someone naturally. This didn’t only affect on Koreans but also on football fans who were watching the World Cup.

I took a soccer class(because it was in the U.S) in Foothill last quarter. I talked with my teacher at the final day and I told him that I would go to Italy for this quarter. He said that Italy is one of the great countries in football history. He also said that have a trip to Salzburg because he played there when he was a football player. Finally, he added to his saying ‘Do not go to Perugia.’ My Japanese and American friends didn’t understand why he said that. My Korean friend who was born in 1997 also could not understand it. Probably he is too young to know the issue. However, I, Chanok Choi, born in 1989, Italian football fan easily could understand why he said that to me.

Most of Korean have never met Italian face to face. However, they have a negative Italian stereotype in their minds due to the happening. Yet, I don’t think this is right. I would rather say that was problems of some stupid sports fans and a team owner. The issue gave Korean bad impressions of Italians because all of Koreans were focusing their interest on the World Cup at that time. If someone are judging a group by a single accident caused by few of the group, I would say them you should think about the judgement again. Sport makes people easily excited. If we judge other countries by only sport-related issues, The U.K will be hooligans land instead of the country of gentlemen, The U.S; the country of liberty will be a battlefield of a war between Yankees and Red Sox, and kind Canada turns to an angry mob who really want to get the Stanley cup.

Stereotypes are usually made in a long term in a society but sometimes it suddenly appears and hardly be changed. I have few of Italian friends and they all really nice. From Milan to Florence, what I realized is that Italian people are really nice and alike in a lot of ways with Koreans. It would be hard to change the negative image on Italian in Korea quickly but I hope that Korean start to understand this nice people in the peninsular. For the last, I want to end this essay with quoting words from the Korean friend who didn’t know about what happened in 2002. Before I left America to go back to Korea, he said “Chanok, I know that you are a big fan of Juventus FC but you should buy and wear a jersey of ACF Fiorentina because you are going to FIRENZE.”

Chanok Choi

I don’t know about Italian stereotypes in America exactly but I found this commercial on the internet. I think some of the Italian stereotypes in America could be like this.
Link : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XVaKAeDMDXY

Shelton Korges

When it comes to Italian and Italian-American stereotypes, most of my earliest perceptions were heavily influenced by my grandmother and American cinema.

My grandmother was born in 1917 in Northern Ireland to a Protestant family and her and the Shelton family (for whom I was named after) immigrated to the United States during the end of the third immigration wave. Groups of Italian Americans also immigrated to the United States during this time period, and thus my grandmother had her own image of this group as shaped by this period. Both Irish-Americans and Italian Americans were heavily prosecuted by the American public during this time; and even though these groups did not tend to get along (Protestant Irish and Catholic Italians more specifically) my grandmother thought that Italians and Italian-Americans were hardworking and compassionate but dangerous because of their connections to the Mafia. While I thought for a long time that my grandmother’s generalizations of Italians and Italian-American was just a byproduct of her generation, as I began to analyze my own subconscious bias on Italians and Italian-Americans I noticed that I had accidentally absorbed these ideas.

I also noticed that I had gained more generalizations by another medium, film. As a film lover, I have noticed that once Italian film started gaining an international audience during the 50’s and 60’s, Italian/Italian American stereotypes were extremely prominent, two in particular. In one of these stereotypes, Italians are portrayed as extremely welcoming to random strangers who work hard at their jobs, carpenter, shoe making, and seamstress being the most common. The other prominent Italian/Italian American stereotype is that they are lazy and spend most of their time trying to seduce anyone who comes their way. Aligning with this stereotype of the seductor/seductress most of the famous actors from Italy tend to be women and sex symbols, such as Sophia Loren, Isabella Rossellini, and Monica Bellucci. These stereotypes didn’t particularly change but are rather expanded with the stereotype of the Mafia in 1972's The Godfather. The Godfather happens to be a favorite of both my father and myself, and this also greatly shaped how I viewed Italians and Italian-Americans. The movie gave me an image that Italians/Italian-Americans were extremely family oriented, to the point that violence was deemed okay if a family member was threatened. While I try to have a fine understanding of the extremity of stereotypes that are common in the realm of film and television, I will be the first to admit that I have unfortunately internalized these ideas.

While I have tried, in my life, to identify the stereotypes I had subconsciously collected from society and media I did not notice before the stereotypes I had for Italians and Italian Americans. I had noticed that while I was packing for this trip, I was thinking about the people I might meet while in Italy, and that's when I began to notice my own stereotypes. When I come back from this trip I hope to enlighten my family, my grandmother in particular, about diversity of Italian ideas and Italian people and hopefully as time progresses these stereotypes will become obsolete.

Macbeth

Growing up I didn't learn much about Italy or Italian people my knowledge is still very small truthfully. The classic Stereotypes of Italian Americans being hardworking and strict come to mind but not much else. I know that the Italian American immigrants weren't well liked even among other immigrants of the time. I know that shows like Jersey Shore and movies like the Godfather exist but I have seen neither so they never really influenced my views on Italians or Italian Americans much.
I grew up in a very religious Jewish household. My mother is a Jewish studies teacher so I learned more than my fair share about every jew you could ever name but I didn't learn much about other cultures. Not till I got to high school, my best friend all throughout high school was Italian through and through her grandparents are both from Italy and they are very proud of it. She is also very proud about where she comes from. She is very happy to tell people that she is Italian and she speaks fluent Italian. I never did learn much about Italy from her though, that just wasn't something we talked about in high school we were all too preoccupied with homework and sports to talk much about anything else.
When I got to college I took my first Anthropology class and in taking that class I started to learn more about different cultures and religions other than the ones that I grew up with. I still didn't learn much about Italian life unfortunately. I learned some but not much more than I had already known. When I got to my second year of College I took my first Art History class and fell in love. I was taking Art2B so I was learning about western European art from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance, as you can imagine I learned a lot more about Italy and a bunch about its art. I fell in love with old Italian art and architecture, this was my first eye opening experience with Italy.
I know I do not know much about modern Italians but I do know a thing or two about some of the most amazing painters and sculptors of the Renaissance. Such as Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and, Raphael. All of these amazing artists have shaped the art world and arguably the world as a whole through their amazing works of art. So most of the stereotypes that I know of Italians come from these men. When I think of Italy I think of Michelangelo’s David and Leonardo’s Mona Lisa. I think about how amazing Raphael’s The Creation of Adam, from the Sistine Chapel ceiling, and so much more.
I hope to learn more about modern day Italians and Italian Americans on this trip I hope to learn who they really are and about the culture that I will be in more than just the stereotypes that most people have come to know. I know this trip is going to be very eye opening to me and I am going to learn a whole lot, not just about the amazing art that is in this country but the people as well. I hope to learn about the culture and the people and how things in Italy are different from home and how they are also similar. I think that this will be one of the best learning experiences of my life so far.

Monica Medina

This will be my first time going to a different country on my own that I am not familiar with. I’ve been to Mexico where I have family and know how to speak their language. Since having gone to Mexico I know how the culture is and what to expect. Unlike Mexico, I know nothing about the Italian culture. When thinking about my first ideas about Italy and stereotypes, it is difficult for me to come up with anything. Growing up I wasn’t told anything about the Italian culture since my parents are from Mexico. There is nothing that comes into mind. Growing I up I have never seen shows, films, or TV shows that seem like stereotypes are shown. Since I have no experience with the Italian culture and what kind of stereotypes they have I decided to ask friends the same question for the prompt. They gave me similar and different answers. When asked about what stereotypes they knew one friend assumed they were very religious and that they cook a lot. Another friend said that Italians reminded her of the mafias. She also mentioned how they eat a lot of pizza and that she thought of jersey girls. This reminded me of the foods that are very common over there like pizza, pasta, and gelato.
When thinking about what my friends thought about the Italians I came up with assumptions about what they might be like. Since it was mentioned that they are very religious I thought that they take their religion very seriously. Looking at the many churches there are in Italy they are much larger than the ones where I live. They are designed very beautiful. Since I’ve also heard much about the types of food they eat I think that it is very different from what the US has to offer. In the US there are so many different types of food anyone can get but in Italy I assume that there isn’t much variety. Even though there isn’t variety I think that the food that is made has different kind of ways to make it and that it takes a lot of time. What I have also heard about Italians is that they are not exposed to anything spicy. This will definitely be difficult for me once I live in Italy because being Hispanic spicy foods and salsas are a must. In every meal I have there has to be salsa and not being able to have it for 2 months will be a struggle. What I also heard about Italians was that there usual drink for a meal is wine. I have never been a fan of wine and getting to go to Italy where wine is a big part of their culture is something I have to try once I get there. I’m sure once I get to Italy the way I think the food is will be completely different than what I thought but will taste delicious. I know I will enjoy the culture of Italy even if I don’t get to have salsa with my food.

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