Monday, April 09, 2001

The Sue-pranos

From the "people who need to get a life" file, we today look at the case that has been brought in Illinois' Cook County Circuit Court by the American Italian Defense Association, which believes that the HBO series "The Sopranos" slanders Italians.

According to a Reuters report, the association of lawyers of Italian descent (and why the heck aren't they suing for the way lawyers are depicted on TV?) complains that the much-praised series "suggests that criminality is in the blood or in the genes of Italian Americans and that Italians as early immigrants to this country had little opportunity other than to turn to crime." The group's chairman is quoted as saying "We're looking for a vindication of our reputation. We realize that we can't stop the free speech rights of Time Warner. We're not looking for money. We want a moral victory here, we want to balance things." And a little publicity wouldn't hurt, either.

Another one of the attorneys complained that, "This is like no family I know. I don't know Italian mothers, ever, who try to have their son killed. That's not realistic." As supposed to the blazing verisimilitude of a series like "The X-Files," "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" or "Third Rock from the Sun."

Dude, repeat after me: It's only TV.

If you watch "The Sopranos," you could get the idea that all Italians are criminals. If you watch "Everybody Loves Raymond," you could get the idea that all Italian men are henpecked mama's boys. If you watch the Food Network, you could get the idea that all Italians are great cooks. If you watch one show and decide that every member of every ethnic group depicted is exactly like the one you are watching, then you have more problems than Tony Soprano.

The lawsuit-bringers are not trying to get the show removed from the air, or have upstanding Italian characters inserted into it, or have huge monetary damages paid so that they can fund some sort of foundation for the development of scripts in which Italians are crime-fighting superheroes. No, they just want to have a judge declare, "Mama mia, that's unfair." Thus giving the impression that Italians are obsessed with honor beyond all reason. But at least their mothers love them.

Personally, I think if any group has the right to sue for the way they've been depicted on TV, it's parents. What a load of buffoons we look on sitcom after sitcom. And since most of the shows with the most derogatory depictions of dad and mom are aimed at children, you could probably say that this has promoted disrespect and disregard of authority amongst the younger generation. Hey, where's the Beleaguered Parent Defense Association when you need them?

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