Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

GTL and Solo Cups in Florence? Fuggedaboutit.

On any given episode of “Jersey Shore,” you can guarantee at least three things: gym, tan and laundry. Add in a lot of alcohol, a high poof of hair and fights on the beach, and you have the recipe for MTV’s highest-rated program. Jersey Shore is returning for its third season this month. It seems like people cannot get enough of the loud, belligerent, Italian personalities from Seaside Heights, N. J.

Although the show has two seasons’ worth of episodes playing constantly in reruns, I can successfully say that I have managed to avoid them all.  As someone of Italian descent, I cringe every time I see or hear about the cast of “Jersey Shore.” With their excessively tanned, practically orange bodies and their over-the-top behavior, the cast members of the show depict a very warped portrayal of the Italian community.

“[T]he outrageous behavior evident on ‘Jersey Shore,’ which was laden with promiscuity, debauchery and violence, was a disgrace,” said Joseph Del Paso, president of the National Italian American Foundation, in an official statement released last summer. Such debauchery includes cheating on partners and arrests for DUIs. All the while, the cast proudly proclaims its Italian heritage by referring to themselves as “guidos” and “guidettes.”

The sad thing is that “Jersey Shore” is not the only show to promote the hotheaded personalities of Italians. In his public remarks, the NIAF president stated that “MTV tapped into a sore spot for many Italian Americans, who have a long history of negative stereotyping in media and are often portrayed as gangsters and buffoons. Many Italian-American groups and activists objected to ‘Jersey Shore,’ citing a pattern of Italian defamation in television and film.” Today, it is not rare to turn on the TV and find some show depicting someone from the Italian community.

On Bravo’s “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” Italian housewife, Teresa Giudice flipped a table during a dinner party while exploding at a cast mate. On HBO, members of the fictional Soprano family were an integral part of the mob scene. Even TLC’s “Cake Boss” documents the drama of running a family-owned Italian bakery.

So what are Italians really like? One of my main goals while living in Florence is to prove false all the exaggerated and negative stereotypes of Italians that so many Americans have grown accustomed to accepting. All Italians love to supplement their conversations with vivid hand gestures and body language. Having grown up in an Italian family, I cannot deny that Italians love to talk, and of course, Italians can have a temper, but table flipping and wild drunkenness?

The reality is that the majority of Italians exhibit what Renaissance author Castiglione called assprezzatura. In his most notable work, The Book of the Courtier, he described Italians as having “a certain nonchalance, so as to conceal all art and make whatever one does or says appear to be without effort and almost without any thought about it.” Italians exhibit innate confidence in themselves and an inviting sense of hospitality. Before my travels, many advised me to try to assimilate myself into the Italian way of life as much as possible because it is the surest way to gain the people’s acceptance. In my short time here, this advice has proved indispensable.

Just as they like to use their hands to talk, Italians also use them to welcome others into a warm embrace. Only if one dares to refuse additional servings or to haggle excessively for goods do they risk the scorn of the Italians. Familiarity with drinking begins in childhood because alcohol is rarely enjoyed outside of a meal. Drunkenness is a rarity and is very much denounced. Maybe Snooki has no shame about her arrest for disorderly conduct connected with excessive drinking, but true Italians know how many drinks is too many.

I never enjoyed watching people like Pauly D or Teresa Giudice as they gave Italians a bad name. Today, I could spend hours simply observing Florentine locals. Having spent just a few weeks in Florence, I realize how little Italian-American personalities have in common with the genuine Italian community.

Bethany Imondi is a sophomore in the College and is currently studying abroad in Florence, Italy. She can be reached at [email protected]Livin’ La Vita Dolce appears every other Friday in the guide.

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