"It ain't us, it's the media. The media has distorted our image to make us look bad."
The tactic of overreacting to media depictions which godless posts about has broken out of the confines of the postmodern left and been adopted by groups not known for eagerly deconstructing texts.
Sophie Arie, "Don't honour wise guy De Niro, say US Italians", The Guardian, 2004 August 13.Will I be seeing Shark Tale? No, but only because it looks like it blows.
Yesterday, it emerged that an influential Italian-American organisation had appealed to Silvio Berlusconi, asking the prime minister to cancel Italy's plan to award [Robert] De Niro honorary citizenship.
The Order of the Sons of Italy in America (Osia), which is based in Washington and has 600,000 members and donors, and describes itself as the oldest and largest association of its kind, is indignant that the actor has "made a career of playing gangsters of Italian descent".
It is particularly annoyed that De Niro is to star in a Steven Spielberg children's film which is, it says, deeply offensive and will instil in young people the idea that Italians are all mafiosi.
"This man [Spielberg] is going to make millions of dollars with a film that is going to introduce unflattering and untrue stereotypes of Italian-Americans as gangsters to millions of children," said Dona de Sanctis, Osia's deputy executive director.
The organisation faxed Mr Berlusconi on Tuesday to demand that the actor not be given the citizenship accolade.
"He has done nothing to promote Italian culture in the United States. Instead, the Osia and its members hold him and his movies responsible for considerably damaging the collective reputations of both Italians and Italian-Americans," the group said.
The letter, copied to Italy's minister for Italians abroad, also pointed out that for Italy to confer such an honour on De Niro would be perceived as an insult by millions of Italian-Americans who have long objected to the actor's "distorted and unbalanced portrayal of people of Italian heritage".
I’ll leave the last word to an actual Italian.
[S]aid Mariassunta Baranello, organiser of [a week long festival of De Niro films in his ancestral village of Ferrazzano], "Our history has good and bad bits. You cannot just deny the past. And after all, it is only cinema."