anti-italianism: the godfather  

I have been struggling with writing about the Godfather for a very long time. Why? Because it is a hot-button issue for many Italians. Many Italians are hesitant to say anything bad about these movies because they do capture some elements of Italian home life and traditions that we are all fond of. The scenes of large family gatherings with copious amounts of food and laughter are something we can all relate to and appreciate.

The family bonds, issues over respect and loyalty are all inherent throughout these works and, they do exist in Italian American homes. So, writing an article that says “these movies represent us in a terrible way,” is not something many fellow Italians are likely to agree with. That being said, I think Italians are the last people to be judging these movies. We are biased and cannot have an objective opinion on these movies.

To be objective, we need to look at hard facts. And the data suggests that the Godfather movies aren't just bad- they're awful. According to the Italic Institute:

From 1928-1972 (44 years), Hollywood made 207 Italian Mafia movies (roughly 4.7 movies per year)

From 1972 (Godfather release) to 2006 (a 34 year span), Hollywood made 293 Italian Mafia movies. (roughly 8.6 movies per year)

That increase is alarming and the overall picture is worse: From 1928-2006 
500 Italian mafia movies were made. 58 of those films were based on real mafiosi, 442 were fictitious.

What were the rates of crime for the Italian American population? Of roughly 15 million Italian Americans in the 2000 census, 1,150 of them were in jail. That's .0078% of the Italian population. It should follow that .0078% of movies about Italians are about crime, right? Not in the media's mind.

Granted, the media was having a great time portraying us as mafiosi before the Godfather- but it seems like the popularity of the Godfather has made things much worse. Don't forget, iconic films like "Goodfellas", "Analyze This", and many others followed the Godfather and achieved massive success.

What I am trying to say with this article is- don't dismiss films like these. As an Italian, you understand that virtually none of us are members of the mafia and that we are intelligent, good-hearted people. But society doesn't see us that way because of these films. 

People base their beliefs on the unknown with what they are shown. Someone who has never met an Italian before (and trust me, its a good segment of the population in America) will say “Hey, 500 movies can't be wrong- it has to be based on truth.” And when society believes that you are a violent, ignorant criminal, it won't think twice of calling you guido, guinea, wop and dago. Unfortunately, that day seems to have arrived.