Italy for dummies

Miss Mafia, iPhone app and “Sopranos” politicians: isn’t enough already with this “mafia” thing???


I have to apologize. I promised myself to move on from this Italian stereotype business, but this time I couldn’t really help it! These three stories that I want to share with you today where just so out there that I had to talk about them.

I’d like to start saying I personally don’t feel offended when people connect Italy – my country – to mafia. I find it a stupid stereotype, and I honestly think there is not a country who doesn’t get hit from these conventional concepts or images.

For example I thought Canadian people live in igloos, with a polar bear as a pet, but it’s clearly not true – by the way I would love to have a polar bear as pet!

Then, let’s see:
Russia -> vodka,
Jamaica -> weed
Mexico -> siesta and tacos
China -> eating dog meat
French -> snobby, rich, and they have a friend named Pierre
Switzerland -> watches and chocolate

(By the way, I found a cool game online Can you name the countries by stereotypes?)

However, we need to understand that having a friend named Pierre is not the same thing that saying you are a “mafioso”. Mafia is a big problem, and I understand why this stereotype can hurt people.

That’s why I find it be a problem when Italian – or people who define themselves as Italian – use this kind of “humor”. If somebody makes a TV show like “The Sopranos” that’s totally cool, but what about this Rocco Rossi’s campaign, Toronto mayor candidate for 2010 elections?

Come on! Really??? For me it sounds like Stephen Harper who says “I’m going to give a home to every homeless” and behind him you can see an igloo!!! I would hope a mayor candidate, who is suppose to represent everybody – especially in a multicultural city like Toronto – would express for the voters more valid points that an old and tiring stereotype in this advertisement.

No surprise then if the  iPhone app “What Country” angers Italians:

Apple has angered an Italian politician with its What Country app in which it sums up Italy as being the home of pizza, scooters and the Mafia. It also represents the country with a picture of a parking sign which reads ‘Mafia parking only’. Italy’s tourism minister, Michela Vittoria Brambilla, denounced the application, which can be downloaded from iTunes, as unacceptable and offensive.

On the iTunes website the application, which also takes a dig at the English, Chinese, Americans and Germans, is described as a light-hearted view of the countries of the world. It also points out that the app is not meant to be a travel guide and should be viewed as a bit of fun.

Reviews of the app on the iTunes site have been mixed. One angry Italian said it was outrageous that Italy should be represented by the Mafia, adding that those who had created the app were both rude and ignorant. Another reviewer defended the What Country product by pointing out that wherever one travels in Europe, this is what people link with Italy.(Read the whole article)

Then, to leave the best for last, Miss Mafia!

Organisers are holding what is understood to be the first ever pageant exclusively for girls convicted of Mafia-connected crimes. Contestants are allowed to post their pictures on the contest website only after submitting a police mugshot to prove their background.

Other vital statistics submitted to judges in Budapest, Hungary, include charges and time spent behind bars.
One finalist – identified as Anna – said: “I was told by my friends several times to go in for a beauty contest. But I couldn’t because they rule out anyone with a criminal record.” (Read the article here)

I’m actually posting this only for the guys out there. I don’t find it offensive, just wrong! (Not because of the mafia connection, but the whole concept). Anyway, you judge!

Read also:
- Italian food stereotypes, no grazie!
- Tired of fake Italian
- Trendy coffee with Italian an Italian accent
and much more.

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7 responses to “Italy for dummies”

  1. Antonella says :

    “wherever one travels in Europe, this is what people link with Italy” … that’s why there’s a so many people looking for Renaissance masterpieces in Greenland! :-)
    Ciao!

  2. amandaccc says :

    “China -> eating dog meat”
    Coming from Hong Kong, people always ask me if I eat dog meat… and it drives me insane!! Stereotyping isn’t the best knowledge that we have developed….

  3. Debra Kolkka says :

    I’m from Australia so people from other countries think we all have kangaroos as pets. Many are surprised that we speak English. What can you do?

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. Italian food stereotypes, no grazie! « Elena_SC's Blog - October 3, 2010
  2. Why I left Italy « Elena_SC's Blog - November 11, 2010

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