After reading about New York's summer of 1977, I figured I'd see Spike Lee's "Summer of Sam" to see that filmmaker's take on that particular time and place. "Summer of Sam" focused on a group of Italian Americans in the Bronx during the time of the manhunt for New York's best known serial killer, David "Son of Sam" Berkowitz. (Who proved that serial killin' ain't just for the gentiles any more! Though I should note that Berkowitz is a born-again Christian; better luck next time Jews!). Berkowitz had gone on a string of shootings from 1976 through 1977, all taking place in New York's outer borroughs. He targeted mostly young women with long brown hair (as well as any men who happened to be with them) which resulted in a lot of women dying their hair blonde during the scare, and the fact that this always happened out on the streets made a lot of people stay home at night. Berkowitz nearly ended the disco craze on his own--the discoteques were hurting pretty bad as a result of this, and wouldn't have a revival until the movie "Saturday Night Fever" came out in late '77 (after Berkowitz was caught).
Spike Lee's film featured its main characters in a pretty negative light--stupid, violent, bigoted and cheesy, and it got me thinking that taken in with his portrayal of Italian Americans in his breakthrough hit "Do the Right Thing"--which also featured Italians being stupid, violent, bigoted and cheesy, though quite skilled with pizzas--maybe Spike Lee doesnt' like Italians! Maybe something happened to him as a kid, getting picked on or something.
But then I had to think--did I ever see ANY film or TV show that doesn't portray Italians as stupid, violent, bigoted and/or cheesy? Let's take a look:
1) Sopranos (full disclosure--I loved the show): yep. Stupid, violent, bigoted and cheesy.
2) Friends--the Joey character wasn't violent, or bigoted, but was stupid and cheesy!
3) Taxi--Louie DeParma was violent, bigoted, and stupid, while Tony Banta was stupid and cheesy. And he was a boxer, so probably violent too.
4) Happy Days--Arthur "The Fonz" Fonzarelli--he was stupid and cheesy!
5) The Godfather and anything by Martin Scorcese--violent and bigoted, yep!
6) Any blaxsploitation film (Coffy, Shaft, etc.)--stupid, violent and bigoted at least.
7) Moonstruck--stupid and cheesy.
Those are off the top of my head. Can anyone come up with any exceptions?