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  • Your Letters: Reader Reaction to Robert De Niro's Honorary Italian Citizenship
    Page 1
    Our Paesani

    by Francesca Di Meglio

    The opinions expressed in this article are those of the readers and are not necessarily shared by the proprietors, editors or other writers at

    SEPTEMBER 5, 2004 – Recently I wrote a column about the Italian government's controversial decision to honor Italian American entertainers Robert De Niro and Martin Scorsese with honorary Italian citizenship at this month's Venice Film Festival. Some Italian Americans say De Niro perpetuates stereotypes and depicts a poor image of Italians because of his willingness to play mob characters on the big screen. Italian American groups have even asked Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to re-think the decision to grant De Niro the honor.

    After my article about the raging debate ran on ItaliansRus, I received a bunch of letters from those on both sides of the issue. Here, the readers react:

    "As you may or may not be aware, objections over the Italian government's plans to honor actors De Niro and Scorsese have not been limited to OSIA, but are also being made by virtually every major Italian American organization.

    The central point of our argument deals specifically with the upcoming release of the animated DreamWorks film Shark Tale, in which both De Niro and Scorsese do voice-overs.  I strongly urge you to read a more explicit argument of our objections at this Web site.

    While you personally may not have felt the effects of Hollywood's relentless depiction of Italian Americans, please note that virtually every survey taken on the subject indicates that most Americans in fact do draw strong and disproportionate associations between Italian Americans and criminality. Since the actual Italian American involvement in criminal activity, according to FBI statistics, is remarkably low, this popular perception can only be attributed to what has been presented through popular culture [and the] media. I encourage you to read the Italic Institute's Film Study results.”--Don

    “I am honored that Robert De Niro is an Italian, and I think it's wonderful that the Italian government wants to honor him.”--Mary

    Continued on page 2

    Related Article

  • Why Do Italians Want to Honor Actor Robert De Niro?

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