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MTV’s Jersey Shore has been an embarrassment to Italian Americans since its inception.  It’s no surprise that Wall Street Journal writer Stacy Meichtry  says that the casting of Jersey Shore in Florence, Italy , is creating a “culture clash.”  In the story, which appears on the front page of today’s Journal, Meichtry writes that the Jersey shore cast is getting “a cold shoulder in Italy.”   The cultural superintendent for the city of Florence, has banned the Jersey Shore cast from filming in any of the city’s hallowed museum.”   Andre Dimino, former president of UNICO, a national Italian American group, has branded Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi as the country’s worst ever export after she crashed into an Italian police car this weekend.  “She really is the lowest of the low and will do anything for attention, even hitting a police car.”  “She is our worst ever export and is an embarrassment for Italian Americans and our whole country.” said Dimino to a reporter.  We are sure Italians will agree!

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Fresh from its battle against the Italian American stereotyping on the MTV show “Jersey Shore” and the videogame Mafia II, UNICO, a national Italian American organization has launched yet another cyber campaign. This one is designed to get Congress to designate the month of October as National Italian and Italian American Heritage Month.

“UNICO National is calling on members of the Italian American delegation of Congress, and Congress as a whole, to establish the month of October as Italian and Italian American Heritage Month,” said UNICO National President Chris DiMattio. “Such efforts would help defuse unjust stereotyping, and make all Americans aware of the enormous contributions Italian Americans make to this country. It would also help educate many about how Italian culture enriches their lives, and makes them more aware of the greatness of our civilization and history.”

We hope so and salute UNICO for initiating this campaign!  Read UNICO’s press release.

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UNICO National, one of the many national Italian- American organizations speaking against MTV’s portrayal of Italian Americans in the “reality” series “Jersey Shore,” is holding a “Summit On the Shore: Anti-Italianism – MTV’s ‘Jersey Shore’ and a Whole Lot More.” UNICO President Andre DiMino said that “It’s only appropriate that we bring this to the place where this abomination of a TV show was filmed.”

We applaud UNICO’s advocacy during the past several months.  Their press releases have been well-circulated, so much so, ironically, that they may have helped make “Jersey Shore” one of MTV’s most watched shows. Now, however, we need to move beyond MTV’s “Jersey Shore” and find, as former OSIA national president Joseph Sciame recently said, a “national spokesperson who can rally us together.”   

We believe the “Jersey Shore” experience should be the catalyst that finally drives the leadership of the national Italian-American organizations to come together and speak with one voice.  Until then, nothing will change, and the usual fragmentation of national Italian American groups will persist.

We applaud the John D. Calandra Italian American Institute at Queens College, CUNY, for presenting a colloquium on “Guido an Italian-American Youth Style” with Donald Tricarico and Johnny DeCarlo.

 Finally, once again, we raise the question– directed this time to the leadership of our national Italian American organizations–Why does the Italian-American Congressional Delegation continue to be silent on MTV’s “Jersey Shore”?

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Joseph Sciame, former National President of OSIA and currently the vice-president for community relations at St. John’s University, commented in an email he sent out early this week, on the “Jersey Shore” MTV controversy and the reaction by Italian-American organizations.  We think that the following excerpts of his statement ought to be shared with the entire Italian American community.

We have never, ever been good at “advocacy” let alone “lobbying” and other than the anti-defamation initiatives we have all activated over the years, i.e., the OSIA Commission for Social Justice, the UNICO effort this time which received wide publicity and the NIAF’s ongoing favorable relationship with “The Hill,” what else is it that we can do? Is there no national spokesperson who can rally us together? Is there no US Senator/Congressperson, Governor or other statesman who can say something?

It does seem to me, and I have shared this with many folks INFORMALLY in the past, we need in 2010 (as we have not done heretofore) a major meeting of the minds…ALL Italian-American organizations, with some top level speaker who can get us ALL on the same plate.

As we noted on our blog on December, we have not  heard any comments or criticism of “Jersey Shore”  by the Congressional Italian-American delegation. The delegation is co-chaired by Rep. Bill Pascrell, who coincidentally represents New Jersey’s Eighth District, and Rep. Pat Tiberi from Ohio.  Their silence has been deafening. If they have indeed not responded to the across-the-board criticism of “Jersey Shore” by all national Italian-American organizations, then we Italian Americans deserve better representation.

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We reported a while back on rumours that MTV was filming a new show entitled “The Guidos.”  Apparently MTV is now calling its new reality show the”Jersey Shore.”  MTV claims to lift the veil over “one of the Tri-state area’s most misunderstood species … the GUIDO” (as per its press materials). You don’t need to be the head of an Italian American organization to protest the trash that MTV is dumping on America.   Italian Americans should protest this offensive show by pulling the plug on MTV and letting the local cable know that such trash is not acceptable by all Americans and not just by Italian Americans.  Here’s a Teaser for the show spotlighting the “hottest, tannest, craziest Guidos”  working out, working on their tan, and working on their hair. As always, let us know what you think.

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Stu Bykofsky, a Philadelphia Daily News columnist recently asked how it is possible that Philadelphia will not have a Columbus Day parade this isgro_phillyyear.  Apparently, according to Columbus Day Parade coordinator Kathleen Murray, a state grant of $40,000 has helped cover costs in the past, but the funds didn’t materialize this year.  Bykofsky asks in his column, “How is it possible that a city with so many proud Italian-Americans, Italian cultural institutions, civic and fraternal organizations — not to mention Italian restaurants — can’t raise a piddling $40 grand? There’s almost a half-million Italians in Greater Philadelphia. If this were a family, they could be sued for nonsupport. Whatsa matter wit youse, anyways?”  While we agree with Bykofsky’s argument, his delivery is offensive! Clean up your act, Stu(pid).

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If you thought that cable TV’s The Housewifes of New Jersey was a black eye for Italian Americans, and not just for those who call New Jersey their home, MTV may be topping that degrading program by reportedly producing a new reality show called The Guidos —  “a not-so-complimentary reference to young Italian-American men who frequent the Jersey Shore in Ocean and Monmouth counties,” according to Philadelphia’s Daily News.  If true, we say, enough is enough. Basta with the exploitation of Italian Americans.  If anyone has any more information on this planned further assault on the stereotyping of Italian Americans, please let us know.

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