The concern about how Italians and Italian-Americans are portrayed in the media is not new; both the country and Italian-American associations in the States have objected time and time again to stereotypes that they are pizza- and pasta-loving mobsters. From the Godfather series to the Sopranos, this image has been replayed thousands of times. Most recently, Julia Roberts’s film Eat, Pray, Love was lambasted for its stereotypical portrayal of Italians. Italian critic Curzio Maltese wrote, “It rains spaghetti, the Italians are always gesticulating and following foreign girls shouting vulgarities but then getting engaged to a nice housewife to please their domineering mothers, all this under the sign of “dolce far niente,’” or the “pleasant idleness” that wise old Italian mothers and hot young Italian men regularly engage in. An Apple app is coming under fire for depending on these “outdated” stereotypes.
The app, What Country, condenses the national identity of countries around the world to a few words and graphics. For Italy, the app features a parking sign that reads, “”Mafia parking only.” Then the tagline, “pizza, mafia, pasta and scooters.” They forgot gorgeous Italian models and great manicotti.
Italian tourism minister Michela Vittoria Brambilla said that What Country is “offensive and unacceptable,” adding that, “Italy is a beacon in the world for its history, culture and style. I cannot allow our country to be discredited by a criminal organization.”
Apalon vice president Peter Meinkov says, “Lots of people around the world love traveling and surprisingly even more do not. As a frequent traveler I met many people that heard about 10 or 15 countries at most. We wanted to change that with our What Country app that even non-travellers will want to own. It highlights only 3 or 4 key facts about each country and presents them in entertaining way that will make them laugh or smile.”
All you need to know about Italy: pizza, mafia, pasta, and scooters. Not home of some of the greatest artists the world has ever known, or home to the historic cities of Rome and Milan or the Vatican, or even a beautiful, scenic Mediterranean paradise. The Italian minister seems to be the only one vocal about his country’s portrayal in What Country, which would seem to be less of a traveler’s aid and more of a waste of 99 cents. Brambilla is calling for it to be removed from the iTunes store.
More Music News From Around the Web . . .