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Shark Tale: The Complete Story

"Isn't your objection to Shark Tale just another example of political correctness?"

Among the most insidious aspects of the scripting of Shark Tale, no less than in all other cases on the ponderously long list of demeaning portrayals of Italians and Italian Americans by the various entertainment media, is the unabashed and readily demonstrable double standard practiced by Hollywood in the way it deals with ethnicity and race.

It's long become the practice of taking pains to avoid the depictions of harmful stereotypes...and indeed to actively participate in the promotion of positive images for some, apparently carefully selected racial/ethnic groups...particularly in an animated vehicle intended for juveniles.

We've seen, for instance, An American Tail (1986) and Fieval Goes West (1991), Spielberg creations featuring the adventures of a heroic Jewish mouse, Disney's Mulan (1998), the story of a courageous Chinese girl, and Disney's Pocahontas (1995), which runs roughshod over historical fact to fulfill its primary mission of depicting Native American culture in a favorable manner. Pocahontas

Fine. It's better than depicting any ethnic or racial group in an unfavorable manner. But once again, we're left wondering why this much-hailed, enlightened sensitivity suddenly evaporates when the subject deals with Italians.

It's all the more ironic, then, when we're (predictably) accused of promoting "political correctness" by voicing our objections to Shark Tale . In reality, Italian Americans, being Euro-ethnics (and widely perceived to be Catholic and socially conservative to boot) have never been afforded politically correct status by the academic and intellectual elite who created the concept...not that we'd seek or accept that dubious honor. We've only asked for fair treatment, not special or preferential treatment. And if we were preferentially treated, Shark Tale wouldn't be in production in its current form.

Nor would we have been forced to endure scores of other movies, not to mention TV shows, plays, advertisements, and novels over the decades in which Italian American characters are categorically portrayed as criminals, uncouth slobs, and other assorted sociopaths by virtue of ethnicity. See for example, the Italic Institute of America's "Image Research Project: Italian Culture on Film" (1928 - 2002).

Shark Tale Unlike other ethnic or racial groups who do enjoy vigilant protection under the shield of political correctness, the validity of our objections to offensive images is continually challenged or assaulted (often, curiously enough, by active promoters of political correctness themselves).

back to the summary . . .
 
 

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