Italian American Group Slams Mafia II

Italian American organization UNICO National is not happy with Take-Two Interactive (or rather, Illusion Softworks’) portrayal of Italians in Mafia II, according to Gamasutra. Although UNICO president Andre DiMino hasn’t actually played the game (it comes out August 24) he still finds the game’s portrayal of Italian Americans reprehensible, calling it a "pile of racist nonsense."

DiMino apparently wrote a strongly worded letter to Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick asking for a meeting and informing him that he found offensive the way Mafia II delivers a "denigrating stereotype of organized crime being the exclusive domain of Italians and Italian-Americans." Of course, as I mentioned earlier, he hasn’t actually played the game.

Here’s a bit more from DiMino:

"Take Two is directly, blatantly and unfairly discriminating and demeaning one group to the exclusion of all others. We are demanding they halt release of the game and cleanse it of all references to Italians and Italian-Americans."

Take-Two chairman Strauss Zelnick responded to UNICO by saying that this particular subject matter "has been featured in movies, television shows and novels" for decades. He also added that "neither UNICO nor any other organization purporting to represent Italian-Americans has seen or played Mafia II."

Source: Gamasutra

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27 comments

  1. a_pink_poodle says:

    Is it bad that I read everything the UNICO spokesman said in a stereotypical Italian American New York accent then laughed?

  2. eston says:

    It’s less a matter of Italians being portrayed as mafia types, and more a matter of mafia types being portrayed as Italians. To the best of my knowledge, the Italian mafia does not generally let in non-Italians. That’s real life for you. If he’s suggesting that all manner of crime organizations be shoehorned into the game in order to promote racial equality among organized criminals, then that is just flat-out retarded.

     

  3. Parallax Abstraction says:

    No one has a legal right to not be offended.  If you don’t ilke what’s in the game, don’t but it but demanding time to meet with Strauss Zelnick because you’re offended is ridiculous.

    Parallax Abstraction
    Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
    http://www.digital-lifeline.ca

  4. SimonBob says:

    Am I the only one who read this and thought, "man, just like the Ralph Bakshi backlash in the seventies"?  History repeats itself.


    Fangamer

  5. GoodRobotUs says:

    Meh, just about every movie I’ve ever watched about the Mafia has lots of Italian references, from Pasta to the Sicilian Neck-Tie.

    They should be pleased, they got off lightly compared to Germany, how often is an axis soldier depicted in a movie with an Italian accent?

  6. Erik says:

    So are you saying that you would not be able to tell a German from a Mexican.  I mean I frankly could.  If you can’t… well that’s sad.

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

  7. Bennett Beeny says:

    That’s about the biggest load of offensive codswallop I’ve seen in a good long while. Next you’ll be saying that you can tell a Jew by the size of his nose, the shape of his ears, or how closely his eyes are spaced.

    Having been to Italy I can assure you that, although Italians in general have a tendency toward the ‘Mediterranean’ type, it is very easy to find blond haired blue eyed Italians who are indistinguishable from what is considered the ‘Northern European’ type. The same is true of Jews, Germans, Irish, Arabs, Mexicans etc. Each national group includes many individuals that do not conform to the stereotype.

  8. vellocet says:

    The game is not called "Triads" or "Crips and Bloods" or "Yakuza", why should they have to show other ethnicities?

  9. Father Time says:

    "That doesn’t mean that most Italians are mobsters."

    That’s not what they’re claiming, they’re claiming the game is lending credence to the idea that the only people in the mob are/were Italians. So presumably they’d be ok with the game if it showed some non Italian mob families.

    —————————————————-

    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  10. mdo7 says:

    Another fun fact: The Italian Americans community was offended by the way Italians are portrayed in The Sopranos when they forgot that the actor are Italian-Americans and I didn’t hear any complaints from the actor that portrayed the mafia in the show.

     

  11. Hevach says:

    Italians do have distinct physical characteristics that set them apart from other Europeans, some but not all of which are shared with Greeks. For that matter, so do Germans, Irish, and many others. Several generations of intermarriage have blurred the distinctions in the US population, but they’re still common enough that you can tell at least part of a person’s parentage by sight.

    In living memory, skin color has been the discrimination of choice, and ironically in all that discrimination that we’ve lost a bit of our capacity to discriminate. In the early 20th century and any time prior, most people could identify an Italian, German, Irishman, or Jew by sight, and make it difficult for him to purchase a home, get a job, or send his children to school. During slavery, many people, especially slave owners themselves, could tell a south African from a west African by sight.

    Just because these days a lot of people are lucky to tell an Arab from a Mexican because their skin color is kinda simmilar doesn’t mean the finer details aren’t still there for anyone who actually looks.

  12. Magic says:

    They don’t. It’s more based on Tommy Angelo joining the Salieri crime family and becoming embroiled in a war with the Morello’s. I did a commentary on the game that explores the game’s themes here: Mafia commentary.

    Also, I’d highly recommend that people watch a let’s play of the game on Youtube. The plot is fantastic, far more than the zany hijinks of other GTA-style games of the time.

    Lastly, regarding this whole issue from the IA group, I’m reminded of a certain episode of the Soprano’s where it’s discussed how several million (seven I think) Italian immigrants came to America… yet, at its absolute height, the Mafia was composed of under 100,000 members. They were (are?) very much a minority and so should in no way be representative of the community.

    And that’s from a TV show about the mafia, which, from my perspective, has done more to highlight that fact than this IA group.

  13. Father Time says:

    I haven’t played the first mafia but I’d be surprised if they didn’t show non-Italian gangs as well (I’m basing this solely off the way GTA handles it though).

    —————————————————-

    Debates are like merry go rounds. Two people take their positions then they go through the same points over and over and over again. Then when it’s over they have the same positions they started in.

  14. Afirejar says:

    They did. Fun fact: The boss of an Italian- American organization, that complained that the Godfather pushed the stereotype that all Italians were mobsters at the time, actually was a mobster.

  15. hellfire7885 says:

    "And what are they gonna do? Whack Strauss Zelnick (watch out for toll booths and invitations to nice italian restaurants with old toliets)"

    Great, now we knwo what an ex lawyer is praying for.


  16. gellymatos says:

    "Take Two is directly, blatantly and unfairly discriminating and demeaning one group to the exclusion of all others. We are demanding they halt release of the game and cleanse it of all references to Italians and Italian-Americans."

    Wow, only the italians are being shown as being part of the American-Italian Mafia? That’s the issue? Or is it that they don’t make a game about every single criminal organization based off of a certain nationality? And what are they gonna do? Whack Strauss Zelnick (watch out for toll booths and invitations to nice italian restaurants with old toliets)? Put his prized horse’s head in his bed during the night? 😉 Oh, and DiMino never played the game or seen extended amounts of gameplay. That seems to be the shared trait of every guy who’s ever criticized a video game on any basis.

     

    "The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has its limits." -Albert Einstein

  17. babyhenchy1 says:

    As Hannibal Lecter would say, "No that is incidental."

    They don’t like being offended, but they do like the attention and "sympathy" that comes from it.

    Really I hate this racist stuff. You can show blacks selling drugs without saying that most black people are drug dealers. Same with Middle-Easterners and terrorism. Most aren’t terrorists, but they are the ones most recognizable.

    The same goes with Italians and the Mafia. The Italian Mafia exists and they are naturally full of Italians. That doesn’t mean that most Italians are mobsters.

  18. vellocet says:

    Also, the word "Mafia" specifically refers to the Italian/Italian American crime organization…

    So I’m not exactly sure what he was expecting… Should Asians be up in arms about getting all Chinese people out of GTA Chinatown Wars?

    People just LOVE to be offended, don’t they?

  19. josh111888 says:

     While they’re at it, can they make a WWII game without any whites or asians?  I’m so sick of things being racist.  

  20. Erik says:

    I say comply with this, but with a catch.  That before the developers do that to their game that first all Italian actors stop staring in movies about the mafia.  The Sopranos anyone?

    -Ultimately what will do in mankind is a person’s fear of their own freedom-

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