Italian Love or Violence?
Family Guy has been a staple television show for over a decade, about a “typical” American family. The show stars Peter & Lois Griffin along with their kids Chris, Meg and Stewie. They all live in a fictional Rhode Island town called Quahog. In Season 12 Episode #5 called “Boopa-Dee Bappa-Dee” the family takes a vacation to Italy. Lois had to trick Peter into thinking they were going to a new water park called Seven Flags Atlantis
This episode of Family Guy gives Italians a completely negative portrayal in all aspects, especially characterizing them as poor, violent, and angry. Within the very first day Peter is in Italy he finds himself being robbed by a group of homeless italian kids. He lies down to take a nap in the street to take a nap and has all of his belongings stolen, including his clothes. This makes a viewer perceive italy as a place where kids run unsupervised and crime is frequent. The way Brian, their talking dog, reacts to Peter choosing to sleep there further reinforces that crime is a standard there. Later in the episode, when the Griffins are now an Italian family, Lois complains to Peter about where all of their income is going and how they can hardly get by. She says, “You have to give most of what you earn to the mafia that terrorises this village.”. This makes the audience yet again think of Italy as a place that is still rampant with crime. The idea of a maffia running an entire town is frightening, and makes the country as a whole, not just the town, look powerless or overrun.
Another aspect of this episode is the constant actions of both italians and people imitating italians as extremely angry. In the first scene in Italy, Peter is watching Italian Star Trek on television. The movie itself is identical except for Spock is dressed in a wife beater (with chest hair). Instead of talking normally Spock only says phrases like, “I know i’m supposed to be logical, but I get so mad”. Italian men throughout the episode are almost exclusively angry. It characterises and enforces a stereotype throughout the episode. A later example is when Stevie has become an Italian and is angry at his stuffed teddy bear. In the TV series leading up to this Stewie is nice to his bear, yet as soon as he becomes Italian he is suddenly pissed at it for no apparent reason. This once again makes the viewer negatively perceive italian people as inherently mad or short tempered when this is most definitely not the case.
Lastly violence and hitting is shown as a normal part of life in Italy. When Lois is upset at Peter for ignoring her, he decides the best way to win her back is with some Italian love. Peter then proceeds to get dressed up like an Italian man and tries to impress her. Peter confronts Lois, slaps her across the face hard and then goes in to kiss her. When Lois is confused and hurt Peter exclaims that, “You lack the passion of true Italian love”. True love has nothing to do with hitting or violence towards your spouse, with Italy being no exception. Italian men are shown as violent and very confrontational by Family Guy. One last line from the show is when Peter lets the family know that they are now Italian. The first thing Stewie says is, “Well if we are gonna be Italian we should start murdering our brothers”. This final line really is the icing on the cake of how negatively Italians are shown by this episode of Family Guy.
The Griffin family’s trip to Italy brings nothing but negativity to Italy. The entire episode seems out to get the country and makes quite a big statement about how Family Guy writers want Italy to look. The amount of stereotypes enforced by this one twenty minute episode is alarming and overall hurtful. This example of media is downright damaging.