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Shark Tale: The Complete Story

"Other cartoons have featured Italian American mobsters. Why pick on Shark Tale?"

Fat Tony There have indeed been precedents, the most notorious instance being the regularly featured mob gang headed by "Fat Tony" (voice-over by Joe Mantegna ) on the immensely popular The Simpsons cartoon series. Apologists point out that the "no holds barred" nature of the show makes room for satirical depictions of several racial or ethnic groups. Their argument is weakened by the fact that the show's writers take obvious pains to avoid heavy handed characterizations of all groups but Italian Americans. The several African American characters that are featured, for instance, are racially distinguished only by skin color. Another character, a decadent clown, is supposedly Jewish, while a convenience store owner is depicted as Pakastani.

Yet these and others are virtually unaccompanied by voice overs or mannerisms which evoke offensive or heavy handed stereotypes, revealing that the writers of the show are not nearly as bold and daring as they'd like us to believe. It's another example of the double standard, and in this matter The Simpsons gets no pass of approval from us.

But if anything can be said in mitigation, it's that the appearance of Fat Tony and his gang is limited to only occasional episodes. In Shark Tale, the propagation of the Italian American mobster image to juvenile audiences is the fundamental and central theme.

back to the summary . . .
 
 

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