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Mafia in the Media

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Leah Cohen

on 1 May 2013

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Transcript of Mafia in the Media

Mafia in the Media What is the "Mafia"? The "Mafia" originated in Sicily during the late 19th century. Sicily was distanced (literally and figuratively) from Northern Italy.
In turn, Sicilians were skeptical of Italian government officials, so landowners hired thugs to guard their estates.
The thugs recognized a business opportunity and began "protection rackets". In the early 1900's many Italians, including Mafia members, fled to America to escape fascism
The Italian Mafia since reaching America has been referred to as "La Cosa Nostra"
Roughly translates to "our thing" Etymology of "Mafia" The word "mafioso" was an attribute meaning "bold" or "self-confident" in ancient Palermo (western Sicily) dialect.
Closest modern English equivalent is "cool"
Criminal connotations stemmed from a 1863 Sicilian play
"I mafiusi di la Vicaria" (The mafiosi of Vicaria prison)
The "mafiusi" are prison inmates who have formed a gang-not unlike the Mafias of today
They have a boss and an initiation ritual
Robin Hood-esque- protect the weak of the prison
Similar to glamorization in modern media Organized crime was not new when the Mafia in Sicily was born
Many other organized crime groups are considered Mafias
The most notorious Mafia in America is La Cosa Nostra
The connection between organized crime and Italian ethnicity promotes stereotypes of Italian Americans. Leah Cohen The Mafia in Hollywood cinema A subgenre of films referred to as "gangster" or "mob" films began to surface following the prohibiton of the 1920's
"Prior to landmark films, gangsters in movies were usually of some other ethnic origin, such as Irish, since Irish gangs were popular in the early 1900s" (Vaccarello)
Many films in the 1930's such as "Scarface" and "Little Caesar" led to the popularity of Italian American Mafia movies Francis Coppola's "The Godfather" largely heightened the link between Italian Americans and organized crime
"The entire trilogy itself collected ten Oscars and twenty-six nominations." (Vaccarello)
It's popularity left a lasting impression on American society's perception of the Mafia Order Sons of Italy in America wrote a report titled, "Italian American Stereotypes in U.S. Advertising”

“Advertising campaigns that feature Italian Americans use stereotypes that present an unbalanced portrayal of people of Italian heritage.” According to Zogby International, "74% of adult Americans believe most Italian Americans have some connection to crime." (OSIA) Implicit "The Godfather" reference
Not a random association between Italians and Crime because it is a reference, but it enforces the popularity- promoting stereotypes
Marlon Brando's Vito Corleone character voice over
Links mobster actions with Italian lingo
"Several swarthy men in an Italian restaurant ask each other 'Howya doin’?' and 'Didcha take care a dat ting?'” (OSIA)
Links mobster lingo ("Take care of it") with Italian American accent Work Cited Budweiser. Advertisement. Youtube. Youtube, 7 Nov. 2007. Web. 28 Apr.
Cosa Nostra written in "The Godfather" logo. Digital image. Mafia Today.
N.p., 27 Apr. 2012. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <http://mafiatoday.com/general-breaking-news/two-alleged-members-of-la-cosa-nostra-family-charged-in-second-indictment/>.
Dickie, John. Cosa Nostra: A History of the Sicilian Mafia. New York: Palgrave
Macmillan, 2005. Print.
"The Godfather" hand puppet. Digital image. Jeux Video Magazine. Jeux
Video Magazine, n.d. Web. 28 Apr. 2013. <http://www.jeuxvideomagazine.com/jeux/le-parrain-edition-du-don-ps3-a1016665-image-65532/14>.
The Mafia in America: the
media’s influence on stereotypes of Italian Americans. Retrieved from http://digitool.fcla.edu/
Map of Sicily. Digital image. Understanding Italy. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Apr.
2013. <http://www.understandingitaly.com/regions/sicily.html>.
The Order Sons of Italy in America. (2003). Italian
American stereotypes in U.S. advertising. Washington, DC.
Vaccarello, J. (2008).
Pepsi. Advertisement. Youtube. Youtube, 13 Feb. 2013. Web. 28 Apr.
2013. The media glamorizes organized crime, particularly the Mafia. The portrayal of the Mafia in the media promotes stereotypes of Italian Americans. Thesis
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