April 23, 2010By Joe Diliberto Posted: Apr 23, 2010
With the demise of AS THE WORLD TURNS's Rocco, I would like to declare a moratorium on mobbed-up Italian-American men in Oakdale.
Speaking as an Italian-American, I can say for a fact that not every one of us is in the mafia. I don't see ATWT (or any soap) depicting any other minority groups in such a uniformly negative manner. In a genre that bends over backward to wink at the reality of organized crime so that popular characters like GENERAL HOSPTIAL's Sonny can be presented as importing harmless, unspecified "shipments," I was aghast to see ATWT's Uncle Ralph depicted as an ugly character who runs a protection racket and threatens pregnant women. And Rocco's mob ties produced a hit man who nearly killed Dusty. In short, why are some gangsters, like GH's Sonny, Jason or Alcazar heroes, while Italian mobsters are always scary? Perhaps the closest parallel is the shoddy treatment that South Asians have received, playing cabbies on BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL and YOUNG AND RESTLESS. But hey, at least those guys were gainfully employed doing honest work.
Sure, we all enjoyed watching THE SOPRANOS on HBO, and The Godfather movies are classics worthy of worship, but not every work of fiction needs to be packed with gangsters of Italian descent. I applaud GH for giving us Dante the crusading police officer and his loving mother, Olivia, and we need to see more characters like them. Not every Italian-American is a member of La Cosa Nostra; it's just not our thing.