I recently wrote an opinion article for The Times-Delphic, explaining my perspective and opinions regarding the show “Jersey Shore” and, to some extent, Italian Americanism in general. I then received criticism from a reputable Italian-American cultural leader with respect to the accuracy of my assertions and my ability as a student majoring in the natural and life sciences to comment on Italian-American culture and its history in the United States. In addition, I became aware of the sensitivity of the topic I chose to write about and would like to clear up a few issues on the subject matter.
First and foremost, the term “guido” is technically an ethnic slur and has been for quite some time. Its use as a term of endearment or cultural pride on the show “Jersey Shore” has brought it to national attention that perhaps has somewhat lessened its harshness and severity in the view of the general public. However, the fact remains that to some it is an offensive remark. I trust that readers of my column knew that my intent was not to offend anyone or to use the term casually or irresponsibly. Rather, I meant to share the progression of my perception of the word and its literal roots, not its ethnically offensive roots. If I did offend anyone, I would like to extend my sincerest apologies.
While certain negative views toward Italian-Americans in the U.S. have lessened, false association between Italian-Americans and the Italian Mafia is a grave and serious matter. To this day, the Italian Mafia, or “Cosa Nostra” as it is known in Italy, is a very serious problem in Italy. Besides the illegal activities and nature of the group, their activities have culminated to terrorist attacks in recent decades. Upstanding Italian-Americans have been fighting for decades to distance themselves from this network and the perceived idea of illegal behaviors because of wrongful, negative treatment. The bottom line is that Italian-Americans, as well as Italians, are not all associated with the Mafia and most are vehemently against the organization and what it stands for. While this doesn’t necessarily have much to do with the show “Jersey Shore” itself, the ethnic profiling of Italian-Americans in the past was not always as positive or humorous as the show portrays it to be.
I would finally like to assert that I am not a recognized authority on the subject of Italian-American culture and history just because of my ancestry. I simply believe that my perspective is unique and worth considering because of my life experiences. The real facts concerning public perception of Italian-Americans and the show “Jersey Shore” should be pursued with due diligence from reputable sources before one can believe them in the truest sense.
If anyone has any questions about the topics aforementioned or about my personal experiences, feel free to contact me personally.
Izzi is a senior biochemistry, cell and molecular biology major. Izzi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.