Sunday, April 15, 2012

Stereotypes in Divorce Italian Style

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The Italian family life is very complicated, exciting, and to most outsiders, humorous. Divorce Italian Style is a parody on the always exciting, sometimes insane Italian values. Everyone in an Italian family has their own role, and they will spend their lifetime trying to perfect that role, usually at the expense of their family members. This film overplayed the roles of each family member of the Cefalú family in a very convincing and comical way.

The film’s main character, Ferdinando Cefalú, played the typical southern Italian married man. He was well educated, but not very smart; he was married, but unhappy; and he fantasized about killing his wife so that he could have his cousin. These were not the attributes of every southern Italian man, but it fits the stereotype very well. Ferdinando decides that the fantasy is not enough, and that he should murder his wife so that he can be with his cousin Rosalia. This suggests that Italian men are never content with what they have. The rest of the film supports this; Carmelo leaves his wife to be with Angela, all the men in town show up to see La Dolce Vita, a movie that apparently has no values except for alcohol and sex, and even Ferdinando’s father was always attacking Sisina.

Another stereotype that was shown very well in this movie was the role of the Italian woman. This was shown best through Ferdinando’s mother; the only time the audience ever sees her is when she is cooking or pushing food on anyone. Whenever Fef� is not feeling well or is depressed, his mother shows up with food and tells him to eat something. A common joke about Italian women is that they think that food solves everything. Also, playing the role of a subservient Italian woman is Angela, Ferdinando’s wife. This woman waited on Fef� all day and all night; she even was unfaithful when that is what he wanted her to do.

One of the main values shown in this movie however was the Italian idea of honor. According to the Italian law, almost anything could be done in the name of honor. This was one of the reasons the Cefalú family was always fighting. Even though the mansion was rightfully belonged to Ferdinano’s uncle, his father would have to fight over it in the name of honor. He did not want to admit that he had squandered the family fortune, and whenever ownership was questioned, there was a fight. Honor means a lot to the southern Italians in this movie, the entire society revolves around the idea of honor. Even though it says on the courthouse that the law is the same for everyone, it can clearly be manipulated in the name of honor. The idea of Ferdinando thinking about what his attorney was going to say in court demonstrates how this could easily happen. This is seen as very comical when the audience belongs to a society that almost tries to distance itself from honor. There is very little honor left in America, the crime associated with capitalism took care of that a long time ago.

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In the end, not all stereotypes and values shown in this movie were necessarily negative, but most of them were shown in a comical way. The main value shown in this movie was honor and how all the values in the society revolved around honor. Every time honor can be used for good, it can also be used for the wrong reasons, and to try to cheat the law.

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