December 5, 2012

Which big ethnic group went MIA during the Sixties?

I'm thinking of this in a highly stylized sense, but I've always had the impression that the big ethnic group that played a major role in American popular culture in the 1950s (especially music) and then again in the 1970s (especially movies), but mostly sat out on The Sixties was Italian-Americans.

101 comments:

Anonymous said...

What about cuisine? Didn't pizza and spaghetti make it's way to the Midwest and start becoming popular there during the 60s?

josh said...

Steve,

Stop what you are doing and purchase a copy of E. Michael Jones' Slaughter of Cities: Urban Renewel as Ethnic Cleansing.

Anonymous said...

I want to throw out another cause: Freud went mainstream. People came to see all social structures and self-control as "repression" that they needed to reject.

WMarkW said...

Francesco Castelluccio, Tommy DeVito, Nick Macioci, Bob Gaudio and Charles Calello, were one of the top pop groups of the sixties, recording as Franky Valli and the Four Seasons.

not a hacker said...

Liberace and Frankie Valli soldiered on throughout the '60's.

Anonymous said...

There's a sense of this in Goodfellas. It's like time stands still for the Italian-Americans in the 60s. They're still going to the same night clubs and listening to the same old music though times are changing all around them through the 60s.

And the most famous Italian-American movie of the 70s was about Italian-American life before the 60s. Godfather movies of course.

Catholic Church, tradition, community centered around families and kin, clan tribalism, organized crime, cultural conservatism, and distrust of outsiders didn't translate well into 60s-ness, except as camp, as with the Shanana. (I wonder how the Irish fared in the 60s. Daley was under attack in 60s.)

It was fitting that Godfather was released when the 'sixties' phenom was coming to an end. After all the excesses, it was nice to see something about a family that sticks together.
Godfather is both anti-60s and an extension of 60s-ness. Anti-60s in putting emphasis on family and tradition. But 60s-ish in celebrating the rise of ethnic America against Anglo-America and in projecting a very cynical view of organized power and politics(especially in part II). It's about conservative rebels.

ironrailsironweights said...

Italian immigration to the United States was at its highest during the first couple of decades of the 20th Century and slowed considerably after the mid-1920's. By the time the 1960's came along the surviving Italian immigrants were mostly middle-aged or elderly, past the point of having much influence on the increasingly youth-oriented culture, and their U.S.-born children had largely assimilated into American life.

I don't quite see how Italian-Americans had a major influence on 1970's culture, beyond The Godfather and its various spinoffs. (Mario Puzo, born in America to immigrant parents in 1920, never knew Italian).

anony-mouse said...

That would be true if you ignored the effects on the '60's culture of Sonny Bono, Mickey Dolenz, Albert J Broccoli, Frank Zappa, Jack Valenti, Angelo Dundee, Oleg Cassini, Frank Serpico, Francesco Scavullo, Joseph Barbera, Gay Talese, Anne Bancroft, and Mario Savio.

It was during the Sixties that Italians-Americans began moving behind the camera (literally and figuratively), rather than in front of it.

Steve Sailer said...

"There's a sense of this in Goodfellas."

Right. I'd forgotten about that, but, of course, my observation was put forward by Martin Scorsese long ago.

I think this ties in to my notion of the back-to-nature hippie aspects of the Sixties having to do with the for Northern Europeans, California's perpetual sunshine seemingly represented a nonstop May Day. For Italian-Americans, they kind of knew deep down that sunshine doesn't mean that the rules of life are permanently suspended.

Anonymous said...

era of spaghetti westerns

Anonymous said...

What about the Four Seasons?

Risto

Steve Sailer said...

"Sonny Bono, Mickey Dolenz, Albert J Broccoli, Frank Zappa, Jack Valenti, Angelo Dundee, Oleg Cassini, Frank Serpico, Francesco Scavullo, Joseph Barbera, Gay Talese, Anne Bancroft, and Mario Savio."

Okay, now make up a 70s list: Coppola, Scorsese, De Niro, Pacino, Stallone, Travolta, Cmino, and that's just movies.

691 said...

The 1960s was the decade when the Young Turks of the Italian mafia from the 20s (Luciano, Costello, Anastasia, Genovese, Profaci), having held power for thirty years, eventually all died. I assume they had both lost a step by then and left behind a charisma vacuum.

On the other hand, Sinatra and Dean Martin didn't do so bad with a large segment of the population.

And you haven't mentioned Cuba yet?

Steve Sailer said...

You could argue that the 1960s didn't get to Hollywood until the 1970s, so the huge Italian-American impact on movies in the 1970s reflected 1960s energies finally being unleashed in movies. In fact, that's the standard argument. But still, I don't know, I think something else was going on.

Anonymous said...

female pop singers '80s-'00s: Madonna, Gwen Stefani, Lady Gaga

Anonymous said...

"Sonny Bono, Mickey Dolenz, Albert J Broccoli, Frank Zappa, Jack Valenti, Angelo Dundee, Oleg Cassini, Frank Serpico, Francesco Scavullo, Joseph Barbera, Gay Talese, Anne Bancroft, and Mario Savio."

Of course, there were prominent Italian-American figures in the 60s. But we are talking of the real movers and shakers who made a difference.
Zappa would be one of them--though I never liked him.
But would it made a difference if Valenti or Dolenz hadn't been around in the 60s?
But imagine 60s without Dylan or Ali.

Anonymous said...

There were a lot of Italians in South Vietnam.

Also, they joined construction trades instead of getting useless majors in college and they lived in their parent's basements until they got married. Not a lot of time on their hands.

Anonymous said...

"On the other hand, Sinatra and Dean Martin didn't do so bad with a large segment of the population."

Hangovers from an earlier era. They were keeping 40s and 50s alive in the 60s.

eh said...

You could argue that

... the most influential literature of the '60's was a book called "One Hundred Dollar Misunderstanding."

mel belli said...

How interesting that on the day Dave Brubeck dies, somebody mentions the cultural effect of Mickey Dolenz. Jeez.

Stephen Edkins said...

The fightback came with the Moral Majority which was effectively when Catholic Americans and Southerners, neither big supporters of hippiedom said enough is enough and aligned themselves with white shoe Republicans, something Steve already alluded to.

The growing Italian creative influence in Hollywood is best captured in.the book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. This was primarily a consequence of the breakdown in the studio system, which was itself a consequence of the impact of television.

Anonymous said...

The end of the KKK and institutional anti Catholic bigotry meant that Italians could enter the mainstream. Frank Scerpico was an honest cop in the 60s. 1960s was also when they became assimilated, by the 70s they were dancing to Black music, the husstle, in Saturday Night Fever.

Stephen Edkins said...

I think the point was that actually the 60s anarchy was still led by the mainstream ie. northern europeans, but that by the 70s Italians had become part of the mainstream. This was most graphically illustrated by the
Moral Majority. Their contribution ceased to be ethnic and became purely creative.

In this they were aided by the breakdown of the studio system which was largely a consequence of technology (TV). This is well chronicalled in the book Easy Riders, Raging Bulls.

Havertowner said...

I would second the recommendation of Slaughter of Cities. It makes an interesting argument that a combination of black public housing and highways were used to clear out the clannish Italians and Irish Catholics out of their "slums" and into the suburbs to become Americanized.

The theory is a bit out there, but then when you see what neighborhoods were demolished by urban superhighways, it makes you think.

When you start noticing all the Italian and Irish names for housing projects in future ghettoes (i.e. Cabrini Green) it starts to make you think twice.

Ant' ny said...

They was sleepin' with the fishes...

Anonymous said...

"California's perpetual sunshine"

But perpetual sunshine in Florida too.

And NY was one of the crucial centers in the 60s too.

California probably played a major role in 60s culture because

1. It was so big and populous, and since it had more people, it had more things happening.

2. Hollywood and San Francisco. Hollywood attracted lots of creative people and San Fran attracted lots of freaks; it was Greenwich Village of the West Coast. Creative people tend to be more excessive and open to new trends and fashions.

Was perpetual sunshine important?
After all, a lot of Californians responded to sunshine in a very different way. They preferred to be surfer dudes and body builders--and that was big in California too--than hippies. (Does Pumping Iron take place in Ca.?)

Hippiedom drew certain influences from German nature cult, but there were big differences. German nature lovers were into order, purity, and cleanliness. It was more the culture of nature hikers than dropouts. They saw nature as beautiful but challenging. They knew they had to be well-prepared to go into nature. (They never would have mucked up nature as the hippies did at Woodstock, shitting all over the place. Hippies at woodstock acted more like drunken hillbillies on dope than like German nature hikers.)
Also, Germans were into health and strength. Related to German nature movement was the mountain climbing craze, which became the subject of a whole bunch of Leni Riefenstahl movies. Thus, one can connect the dots from German nature movement to muscle beach thing too.

Hippies' spiritual inspiration really came from Eastern mysticism, especially the stuff being peddled by Maharishi Yogi and the like. Hindu yogis didn't exercise much and disdained the body. They preferred to fast and gain control over their body through meditation and growing really skinny by eating only vegetables. Hindus were into purity but of a ritualistic than literal nature. A Hindu might wash himself in the sacred Ganges river to purify himself but never mind that it's a cesspool of sewage. For the Hindu, purity is a matter of symbolism than fact. Even so, yogis, even in their dirty emaciated selves, gained great control over their bodies through arduous meditation.
Hippies wanted to be like yogis but never developed the discipline because they figured they could get instant karma with drugs and rock music.

Of course, there was a certain connection between German nature movement and Indian culture. Hesse's parents had been missionaries in India and he grew up hearing tales. He finally took a trip to India but was abhorred by the poverty, messiness, dirt, filth. People he was most impressed with in the East were the Chinese he met in Malaysia or Singapore who seemed so clean, orderly, and gentle compared to Indians and other Asians.
So, even though some Germans were influenced by Eastern ideas, they did their own thing, and their nature cult had a lot to do with health, strength, and discipline.

Hippies, in contrast, were often lazy, disorganized, unfocused, flaky, dirty, and slovenly. And they were too laid back. Anyone's who's been a Dead Concert knows that it was a gathering of the consumer tribe. How else can a concert accommodate 10,000s of kids arriving in cars from all around the country?
And woodstock was in rainy NY, but that sure didn't faze anyone.

x said...

italian americans made their comeback with super mario brothers in the mid 1980s.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit that I don't entirely understand the regression to the mean concept, but wouldn't that have been the point when considering immigration patterns the Italian "stock" would have dipped and then stabilized.

Anonymous said...

Either the cause was an event or a process.

If it was an event then you'd imagine it would be close to 68 itself.

However if it was a process then the cause would have begun much earlier reaching a tipping point in 68.

The people of 68 were in their 20s and 30s so born around 38 to 48 and going through their formative years in the 50s so if it was a process that's where to look.

I'd suggest television, pop music and education cut the ties of cultural transmission that had previously held the younger generation to the older.

Cutting the ties would create different effects in different countries as the younger generation spun out of their traditional culture's orbit.

If so then Oswald and his pal may have been more early adopters and signifiers of the coming wave than progenitors of it.

Anonymous said...

I know Steve will hate this theory like he hates that How the Irish became white meme, but wouldn't this simply represent the Italians being squeezed out of their "exotic" white role by blacks etc. This really only applies to pop culture obviously. And to be honest I am not sure how big of influence Italians had on America at any point really. Just Mediterranean enough not to be model immigrants, but not really different enough to leave a huge mark.

Anonymous said...

Steve Sailer:"Right. I'd forgotten about that, but, of course, my observation was put forward by Martin Scorsese long ago.

I think this ties in to my notion of the back-to-nature hippie aspects of the Sixties having to do with the for Northern Europeans, California's perpetual sunshine seemingly represented a nonstop May Day. For Italian-Americans, they kind of knew deep down that sunshine doesn't mean that the rules of life are permanently suspended."

The moment that really brings home the contrast between the Italian deep wisdom that California sunshine doesn't mean an endless arcadian idyll comes in the scene when Billy Batts gets beaten to death by Pesci and De Niro. As Batts succumbs to a brutal beatdown, we hear Donovan singing"Atlantis," perhaps the ultimate hippy tune.

Syon

Anonymous said...

"Also, they joined construction trades instead of getting useless majors in college and they lived in their parent's basements until they got married. Not a lot of time on their hands."

There's a definitely a class element. There were dozens of localized bluecollar youth cultural rebellions as well but the bit with political impact came out of the college youth.

Jefferson said...

[QUOTE]I don't quite see how Italian-Americans had a major influence on 1970's culture, beyond The Godfather and its various spinoffs.[/QUOTE]

It was an Italian American that had a major influence in putting Disco on the map and making it the hottest music genre in America up until the birth of MTV, and than New Wave became the new "in" thing.

John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever made Disco music popular nationwide. Before Saturday Night Fever came out, Disco's popularity was mostly limited to New York and Los Angeles.

But John Travolta made it cool for people in the Midwest and the South to like Disco music.

Anonymous said...

Well, I look at 1976 and the Roman Catholics and Evangelicals first got together, Jimmy Carter was the preferred candidate he won big in Catholic North east and evangelical south but some western Evangelicals like Dr James Dobson who in those days was in California and later in Colorado, head of Focus on the family voted third party. Reagan was the first candidate that the religous right got together for a higher office.

DaveinHackensack said...

"Godfather is both anti-60s and an extension of 60s-ness. Anti-60s in putting emphasis on family and tradition. But 60s-ish in celebrating the rise of ethnic America against Anglo-America and in projecting a very cynical view of organized power and politics(especially in part II). It's about conservative rebels."

The Godfather is more about a newer ethnic group wanting to get a seat at the table of the anglo establishment than it is about Ethnic America versus Anglo America. The Don adopts a German-American, who grows up to be his consigliere; the Don's son marries a WASP; the Don's dream is for his descendants to graduate from the mob to legitimate society.

And the Godfather -- the book in particular -- is pretty unsentimental about the old country. Michael won't get his smashed nose fixed by a local surgeon, because he knows the doc is probably a hack, who got his position not by merit but by mafia connections. Sicily is basically a beautiful hell hole, a violent, low-trust society. Despite living under a local don's protection, Michael needs armed guards everywhere he goes. The Godfather is pretty clear that Anglo America is a superior society.

And there's nothing in it that envisions today's America where not just Southern Euros, but elite blacks have reached the pinnacle of American society.

DaveinHackensack said...

Right. I'd forgotten about that, but, of course, my observation was put forward by Martin Scorsese long ago.

Even longer ago -- in Mean Streets first, no (unless that was supposed to be set in the '60s?)?

Anonymous said...

"You could argue that the 1960s didn't get to Hollywood until the 1970s, so the huge Italian-American impact on movies in the 1970s reflected 1960s energies finally being unleashed in movies. In fact, that's the standard argument. But still, I don't know, I think something else was going on."

Maybe Italian-Americans had been...

(1) slower to make the social climb than Jews and others, and therefore they'd been more into making a living than going into the arts. Men like Sinatra and Martin were entertainers--a form of making a living--than artists. An artist is committed to his calling, pass or fail. An entertainer sees success as part of 'making it'.
In contrast, going into art is a kind of indulgence, and since Italian-Americans were slower to make the social climb, maybe it was only later than a crop of Italian-Americans came on the scene to devote themselves to cinema as an 'art'. And they could finally afford to do so since the Italian American community had caught up with others in wealth and opportunity.
And maybe Italian-Americans were more likely to major in something like film since it was less demanding than science or medicine.

(2) Maybe Italian-Americans had been held back from expressing themselves more openly than other ethnic groups due to cultural and social pressures. The Italian community was less liberalized, less individualistic. It's like Charlie has to respect his uncle in Mean Streets.
Individualism, idealism, and personal dreams meant less in a community where you were part of the family, part of the clan, part of the tribe, part of a cultural tradition so rich that you did more 'looking back' than 'looking forward'.
But with the 60s, Italian-American community became liberalized, and guys like Scorsese were beginning to break out of the confines of their enclaves and feeling liberated. Scorese spoke of how it felt when he first went to Greenwich Village. It wasn't far from Little Italy but he felt like he was on a different planet.

It could have been this great tension between tribal clan-ism and liberal individualism that fired up so many Italian-Americans in the 70s. You feel this in Scorsese movies: A kind of great fascination with world outside Little Italy but also a kneejerk hostility towards it. A love/hate. If art is fueled by tension, this could have fired up the new crop of Italians in the 70s.
Charlie in Mean Streets so dearly wants to be part of the clan and win the respect of his uncle, a 'big man', but he also loves rock music and even has the hots for a black woman. He's a conformist and rebel. And he feels that way about the Church too.
This tension can be felt in The Wanderers too though both the novel and movie were made by Jews.

But over time, new generation of Italian Americans lost all their cultural inhibitions, and so now we have Jersey Bore.

Carol said...

Sheesh, no way were the Four Seasons any kind iconic Sixties group. They were a leftover boy doo-wop group from the Fifties. They weren't even a real band. Most the music sensations of the Sixties were bands, or pretended to be like the Monkees and the various groups whose tracks were recorded by the Wrecking Crew.

Anonymous said...

"but wouldn't this simply represent the Italians being squeezed out of their "exotic" white role"

I think "becoming white" is about class, not so much becoming middle class but rather moving away from being *all* working class to being a mixture.

When people from an ethnic group are *all* (or mostly) in a single socio-economic group then prejudices generally associated with membership of a particular socio-economic group become associated with them as an ethnic prejudice.

When there are both Italian laborers and Italian lawyers then that associated socio-economic prejudice falls away.

(I think there's also a possibility that people from small inbred villages in Europe had smarter kids and grand-kids after they moved to American cities through losing their inbreeding depression.)

ziel said...

Italians were never comfortable with Rock and Roll. In the Fifties they concentrated more on the doo-wop side of things, which was more a continuation of early 50's pop than Rhythm and Blues. In the 60's they were either 50's throwbacks (Four Seasons) or represented the more conservative side of their sub-genres as with the Young Rascals (rock and roll) or Vanilla Fudge (psychedelic rock). And of course they so easily abandoned Rock when Disco arrived in the 70's.

When they did adopt the long hair and beards, their hair was carefully sculpted and beards immaculately trimmed. The garish colors and unorthodox styles of the 60's morphed into purple-silk shirts on Italian Americans in the 70's.

I think Italians have respect for style and polish, two things that the 60's counter-culture rebelled against. How can you go on stage looking like you just walked in from a hike in the woods? How can you improvise a performance and not have it carefully rehearsed? How can you sing a song and not hit each note on pitch in a clear, strong voice?

To Italians, these are matters of respect. The 60's counter-culture was just a morass of disrespect.

Anonymous said...

"The Godfather is more about a newer ethnic group wanting to get a seat at the table of the anglo establishment than it is about Ethnic America versus Anglo America."

Yes and no. While it's true that Vito wants his family to become legitimate, he's willing to violate the rules of Anglo-America to enter it. He rose as a crime boss and played by his own rules. He did it his way.

And in Godfather II, Michael does gain control over an Anglo-American who insults him. And Kay comes to see Michael as part of this 'Sicilian thing' that is conspiring to take over America with lies, deception, and etc.

Puzo wasn't apologetic at all about the Corleones, but Coppola, a liberalized and wasp-ized Italian-American, took a critical view of Italian-American power. In Godfather II, he made the Corleones truly evil by having a hooker killed(to blackmail Geary)and then Fredo too. If Puzo had control of the script, he wouldn't have gone there. (That hooker thing I cannot forgive.)

In the novel, the Corleones' men kill Tataglia but not the whore he's with. But in the movie, the men wipe out both Tataglia and the whore. Coppola made the violence grimmer.

Coppola was being self-critical of Italian-American corruption just like Wasps were with their own privilege and abuses. I guess waspism rubbed off on Coppola; he felt a need to apply the same standards to his own community.
Jews, in contrast, don't seem to be very self-critical of anything they do.

Anonymous said...

As I recall, the Free Speech Movement at Berkeley was launched by Mario Savio. Italians weren't missing in action -- they had blended in with the rest of the American population. Like the Irish Catholics, they chose to assimilate, just more quietly. And Italians refused to hop on the Civil Rights Soul Train with the WASPs and Jews. Italians had a more race realist view of blacks, having lived along side them in Queens and Brooklyn. Most Italians to this day are flinty-eyed race realists and are quite open about the shortcomings of the Italian tribe, which is why so many of them married out in the second generation.

As you can imagine, there were many fewer Italian trust fund babies with time on their hands to be professional revolutionaries so you didn't see stories about them blowing themselves up in their parents town houses.

Anonymous said...

Depalma

DaveinHackensack said...

"And in Godfather II, Michael does gain control over an Anglo-American who insults him"

Not just insults him, but attempts to extort him. So what Michael does to him is essentially fighting fire with fire: he only resorts to illegal tactics after the Senator does.

"Jews, in contrast, don't seem to be very self-critical of anything they do."

Really? Spielberg's Munich? The Coen Brothers' A Serious Man?

Hunsdon said...

DaveinHackensack said: The Don adopts a German-American . . ..

Hunsdon clarifies: As Hagen said, "I'm German-Irish."

It is mostly that I am on a lonely and unappreciated crusade to recognize Robert Duvall as the greatest living American actor that I point this out.

If we only hit the high points---BOO FRICKIN' RADLEY!---Frank Burns, Ned Pepper, THX, Jesse James, Col. Radl, Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore ("Charlie don't surf!" and the even better "Some day this war's gonna end"), the eponymous Great Santini, the HBD-hip cop from Colors, Gus McRae and Al Seiber ("Texans---the lowest form of white man there is.")

Hunsdon said...

Anonydroid at 7:20 said: While it's true that Vito wants his family to become legitimate, he's willing to violate the rules of Anglo-America to enter it.

Hunsdon begs to differ: As Steve has said in another context, "With an axe, sir!" The Normans did not charm their way into the Anglo aristocracy; they took it. By any means necessary.

Anonymous said...

"I think Italians have respect for style and polish, two things that the 60's counter-culture rebelled against. How can you go on stage looking like you just walked in from a hike in the woods?"

I keep going on about it but again i think this is a class thing. English working class kids at that time went out dancing in suits - all day covered in engine oil, dress up to go out - it's the college kids who did the scruffy thing.

(In England the bluecollar version of the 60s came in the 70s with punk.)

So i think the Italian thing was more about being disproportionately bluecollar at the time.

One thing that may have influenced the timing of youth rebellion among different socio-economic groups is when people got a TV. I think my family got one in the early 70s.

The more i think of it the more i wonder if TV was the main cause, not neccessarily what was on it specifically but simply it being an alternative source of cultural transmission from the family.

Anonymous said...

Sailer, any plans for a second book? Please write one. I would love you to write a history of America or art least history of the us since 1900.

David Davenport said...

John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever made Disco music popular nationwide.

Did John Travolta write, direct, produce, or cast himself in the movie Saturday Night Fever?

Did Travolta write or perform the soundtrack songs?

Anonymous said...

Coppola was being self-critical of Italian-American corruption just like Wasps were with their own privilege and abuses.

Northern European "abuses"? Like what?

Anonymous said...

Second book what was Sailers first book oe are we counting bobos in paradise.

Anonymous said...

The 60's counterculture can be traced back to a bicycle ride in Basel, Switzerland, on April 19, 1943.

There's the Germanic connection.

Baloo said...

There was Anthony Imperiale. He should've been President.

Unknown said...

There have a been a number of prominent Italian-American jazz players. Off the top of my head I can think of four named Joseph: organist Joey DeFrancesco, pianist Joey Caldarazzo, tenor saxist Joe Lovano, tenor/soprano/flutist Joe Farrell nee Firrantello. There's the LaBarbera brothers which includes a Joe. There are others that I'd have think of.

Then there's Trey Anastasio of Phish, but I suspect his mother is of more Northern extraction.

Jefferson said...

[QUOTE]Italians had a more race realist view of blacks, having lived along side them in Queens and Brooklyn[/QUOTE]

On The Sopranos it was very common to hear Tony or another member of his New Jersey crew say something politically incorrect about Puerto Ricans and African Americans.

Tony Soprano and his New Jersey crew were definitely not the liberal SWPL types who go around claiming that some of their best friends are Black and how they love diversity.

David Chase the creator of The Sopranos, knows that in real life most Italian American wise guys do not have a very high opinion of Colored people. That is why he made the wise guys characters on his show racists.

Holan Raturn said...

"And in Godfather II, Michael does gain control over an Anglo-American who insults him"

I think that is a bit of ethnic rationalization via Hollywood.

In the movie, The WASP Senator is corrupt, so it rationalizes the behavior of the Mafia and the setup of him to the viewers. In reality the societies of NW Western Europe have historically low corruption compared to the rest of the world.

candid_observer said...

There is a deep strain of cynicism and realism in the Italian culture, and in the Italian-American culture.

No doubt this is due to the perception that figures of authority simply can't be trusted. The Catholic Church was regarded as corrupt -- it was in Italy where its power and hypocrisy was most on display -- and the government was no less corrupt.

While every ethnic group is going to have some ideologues and dewy eyed idealists, I think it's pretty fair to say that there are relatively few among Italian-Americans. They tend to have pretty well developed BS detectors, because they've seen so much BS over the decades and centuries.

They are not natural hippies.

candid_observer said...

Another point about Italian-Americans.

They tend to be pretty down-to-earth, even when they are in quite sophisticated roles. Think of Scalia, or of Giamatti, both father and son.

bjdubbs said...

Allan Bloom's theory of the 60s, which also blames the Germans, ie all of the hippies were Heideggerians and the 60s was Weimar Germany all over again, but without the depth. For example, "hang loose" is a translation of Heidegger's Gelassenheit and "the movement" is a translation of die Bewegung, which was how the Nazis referred to themselves. In other words, the hippies were left-wing Nazis. This doesn't sound so crazy if you remember that the Wandervogel would greet each other with "Heil" and were eventually coopted by the Nazis. You can connect the German nature cult to the "destruction of reason" explanation of the rise of Fascism, and then it's not far to the hippies.

Anonymous said...

As I recall in the Godfather novel Michael is very upset that his protestant New England wife converts to catholicism. He very much wanted his children to be protestants and thus 'more American'.

Vendikar said...

I have to tell Frankie Valli and Nancy Sinatra how they weren't around in the Sixties next time I run into them. I keep forgetting to do that...

ATBOTL said...

"There's a sense of this in Goodfellas. It's like time stands still for the Italian-Americans in the 60s. They're still going to the same night clubs and listening to the same old music though times are changing all around them through the 60s."

This was parodied in Spinal Tap when the cab driver won't shut up about Sinatra.

"Italians were never comfortable with Rock and Roll. In the Fifties they concentrated more on the doo-wop side of things, which was more a continuation of early 50's pop than Rhythm and Blues. In the 60's they were either 50's throwbacks (Four Seasons) or represented the more conservative side of their sub-genres as with the Young Rascals (rock and roll) or Vanilla Fudge (psychedelic rock). And of course they so easily abandoned Rock when Disco arrived in the 70's."

Guidos are a related phenomena. They never gave up the disco era. Among young Italian Americans, there are two groups culturally: the guido types and a rock n' crowd that gets less attention in the media. The latter group was dominant during the 90's.

They could have made a version of Satuday Night Fever about young Italian men in New City in the 70's who were obsessed with Black Sabbath, wore motor cycle boots(even if they didn't oven a MC), did tons of drugs like PCP and sprayed graffiti on Subway trains on Saturday night instead of going to the disco.

Auntie Analogue said...


Italian-Americans in the Sixties? Gee, Mr. Sailer, never heard of The Rascals?

Eddie Brigati (vocals), Felix Cavaliere (keyboard, vocals), Gene Cornish (guitar) and Dino Danelli who charted high with their 1968 anthem:

"All the world over, so easy to see!
People everywhere, just wanna be free.
Listen, please listen! that's the way it should be.
Peace in the valley, people got to be free."

In "Good Lovin'"(1966) The Rascals follow the Freudian line - see a doctor who advises them to lose their sexual repression. Dunno about you, but that sounds quite 60's to me.

Then there was Carmine Appice's vocal on Vanilla Fudge's smash psychedelic-hard rock cover of the Supremes "You Keep Me Hangin' On." Mamma Mia! - you can't get a more Italian name than Carmine Appice!

True, The Four Seasons' vocals were in the bel canto tradition (Sinatra, Julius La Rosa, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, Vic Damone, &c.), yet the Seasons had Top Ten records all through the Sixties, and they accomplished this feat in the teeth of the British Invasion, so they weren't just popular with young Italian-Americans but enjoyed a nationwide buying public.

And who could forget all those 1960's Ed Sullivan guest appearances by Sergio Franchi and...Topo Gigio!
"O-o-o-oh, Ed-dyyyy!"

But I consider that the main reason Italian-Americans did not loom large in the upheavals of the Sixties owed to Italian-Americans' strong family bonds and the power of respect within and for the family.

Also a strong centripetal force was exerted upon Italian-Americans by distinctive Italian cuisine, which was rivalled only among pre-1965 immigrant groups' victuals, and then only quite modestly, by Polish food.

For example, you rarely hear about Irish cuisine - the old joke about Irish cuisine was:

Q.: What's a seven-course Irish dinner?
A.: A boiled potato and a six-pack.

For goodness' sake, Irish cuisine literally did not exist. Even the Irish section of Manhattan was known - and is still known - as Hell's Kitchen (which, if you know that the Irish were noted far more for their saloons than their cooking, seems to make a lot of sense).

German dishes never made it big among non-German Americans. And kosher eateries were popular almost exclusively in or near urban centers that had Jewish communities, and even then the drift of many American Jews from orthodoxy to Reform Judaism diluted the impact that the kosher diet might have otherwise had.

Another fact: in many U.S. cities there are still Little Italys, but there never was a Little Deutschland or a Little Israel, or even a Little Poland.

Italian-Americans also tended to continue their old country's custom of reinforcing speech with gesture - very much an in-group bonding force, whose distinctive forms of expression may have defied understanding by non-Italian-Americans and thus helped to keep Italian-Americans insulated from larger cultural upheavals, whose only Sixties' contributions to gesture-speak were the peace sign (ripped-off from Churchill's Victory-V-sign) and the uniform bluntness of the upraised middle digit.

Anonymous said...

Allan Bloom's theory of the 60s, which also blames the Germans.

Of course Allen Bloom blamed "the Germans."

Anonymous said...

Perhaps all they wanted to do was to 'blend in'.
After the second etc American born generation came along, they just blended in and faded away.

Steve Sailer said...

And if you want to say DeNiro is only about half Italian, well, then, I'll toss in Bruce Springsteen on his mother's side: half of DeNiro and half of Springsteen adds up to a lot of 1970s cultural impact.

Fisk Ellington Rutledge III said...

By the 60s, Italians had become blonde, blue-eyed WASPs according to the Leftist narrative and were no longer interesting. What was interesting were White California youths and their bestest ever new friends, the lively, vibrant, diverse Blacks.

And anyway, Italians = New York back then and New York was the scary/lugubrious Velvet Underground. California was the ripe, juicy fruit of Grace Slick.

I remember an R. Crumb panel from the old Zap Comix. There were two White, blonde, weekend hippies hanging around Haight/Ashbury and a Black stud in beret and sunglasses was saying to them, "Y'all ain't race prejdice is ya?" R. Crumb "got it" but he was too much of a twit and had to end up as just another Leftist hand wringer.

But just as with the Italians, we see the Left attempting to turn Latinos White. It's a subliminal thing, because we are supposed to openly "celebrate" their Latinoness, but as part of the brainwashing of evil Whites, we also need to portray Latinos as actually becoming White.

You see it a lot on TV commercials. We see a Latino family all brown and Amerindian and the child is given some product that will help, him or her study, eat healthy, etc. Then we just ahead a few years later and the kid is older and graduating from something and is now miraculously White. See? No threat at all. Just like us.

Just another in the constant barrage of Leftist lies, false assumptions, fantasies and brutal redefinitions of reality.

Anonymous said...

"Allan Bloom's theory of the 60s, which also blames the Germans"

He didn't so much blame the Germans as how their ideas came to be used.

He admitted Nietzsche and Heidegger did raise certain important issues central to modernity(without resolving them), but how those issues eventually got 'resolved' by leftist intellectuals was a blow to truth, reason, and freedom.

Anonymous said...

Hippies were too much like gypsies and neo-Jesus freaks to be like German nature cultists.

Anonymous said...

"Really? Spielberg's Munich? The Coen Brothers' A Serious Man?"

Munich is eye for an eye Zionist screed.
Serious Man makes us feel sorry for the 'helpless' Jew. It has nothing to do with Jewish power.

Anonymous said...

"In reality the societies of NW Western Europe have historically low corruption compared to the rest of the world."

I think that's true on average but there'll always be some and the best profession for someone who is corrupt is a politician imo.

.
"You can connect the German nature cult to the "destruction of reason" explanation of the rise of Fascism"

How come you never hear about the "the mass-murdering bolsheviks" explanation for the rise of fasciam? It's the simplest and most plausible by far.

.
"I have to tell Frankie Valli and Nancy Sinatra how they weren't around in the Sixties next time I run into them. I keep forgetting to do that..."

Not very counter-culture though.

Anonymous said...

Munich is eye for an eye Zionist screed.
Serious Man makes us feel sorry for the 'helpless' Jew. It has nothing to do with Jewish power.


The only movie I saw that was critical of jewish power was People I Know

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0274711/

Jefferson said...

[QUOTE]But just as with the Italians, we see the Left attempting to turn Latinos White. It's a subliminal thing, because we are supposed to openly "celebrate" their Latinoness, but as part of the brainwashing of evil Whites, we also need to portray Latinos as actually becoming White.[/QUOTE]

If the Left is trying to turn Latinos into the new Whites, they are doing an extremely horrible job of it.

If Liberals want to turn Latinos into Ethnic Whites just like the Jews, the Italians, the Greeks, the Polish, the Irish, etc than Liberals need to make Latinos lose their affirmative action privileges.

Losing your affirmative action privileges is how you assimilate into Whiteness or at least honorary Whiteness.

If Greek American Bob Costas can not qualify for affirmative action programs, than neither should Mexican American George Lopez.

As long as Latinos continue to get the same affirmative action privileges as African Americans, Latinos will always be seen as a Nonwhite group that failed to assimilate into White America.

Anonymous said...

"If Liberals want to turn Latinos into Ethnic Whites just like the Jews, the Italians, the Greeks, the Polish, the Irish, etc than Liberals need to make Latinos lose their affirmative action privileges."

Of course, one big pothole in the road involves the minor matter of the Jews, Greeks, Italians, etc, being Caucasoids. Most "Latinos" in the USA are mixed-race Mestizos.

Dahinda said...

Anonymous said: Didn't pizza and spaghetti make it's way to the Midwest and start becoming popular there during the 60s?"

Huh? There was no spaghetti or pizza in Chicago or Detroit before 1960? What were they serving to half of the population of Chicago's West Side and Western Suburbs before then?


Anonymous said...

""California's perpetual sunshine"

But perpetual sunshine in Florida too. "

humidity

Anonymous said...

Dolenz's father was from Trieste and was born Jure Dolenc, and was Slovenian. His mothe was a Johnson from Texas. Likely Scotch-Irish.
Perhaps this book is as good a start as any.

http://monthlyreview.org/2006/01/01/lost-and-found-the-italian-american-radical-experience

Anonymous said...

Italians weren't mia but mammamia.

Anonymous said...

"The Rascals"

Terrific band but not a mover/shaker like Dylan, Stones, Beatles, Motown, etc.

Rascals were following trends than setting them.

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TEt26M2Jprc

Was Sonny Geraci Italian-American?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Geraci

David Davenport said...

"You can connect the German nature cult to the "destruction of reason" explanation of the rise of Fascism"

Please explain how the "German nature cult" was connected to the rise of facism.

I'll give it a try: First, jung German Volk started hiking and singing folk songs around the camp fire. Next, they -- pardon the expression -- resurrected sun worship ceremonies instead of going to church on Sun's-day.

Next thing, some Serbs assassinated Arch Duke Ferdie. Then WWI got started because Kasier Bill liked it that way.

It was clearly all the Wandervoglers' fault.

Anonymous said...

"Please explain how the "German nature cult" was connected to the rise of facism."

Themes of neo-paganist blood and soil. Notion of pure/sacred nature vs corrupt and diseased/decadent city. Cult of strength and beauty.

Of course, the key word is 'connect' not 'cause'. Most nature lovers were surely looking for fun, not radical political renewal.

We can also find 'connections' between Hitler Youth and Boy Scouts, but that doesn't mean being a boy scout is gonna make you wanna invade Poland.

Fisk Ellington Rutledge III said...

@Jefferson

I agree that the "turning Latinos into Whites" is being done badly for the most part. But it's just one tactic being used by the Left to force us to accept the lie that we need and/or want millions of Latinos in the U.S. And the Left is never consistent. Everything they say and everything the Left believes in is a lie, false assumption or fantasy.

So if the Left says Latinos are, or very soon will be, the equivalent of White to those who don't believe all their other lies, it is merely an attempt to comfort those Whites who know better, but who might be very happy to be deluded into thinking that the Latinos are our next marvelous new White melting-pot ingredient.

NYT-style articles crop up regularly that tell us that the Amerindian Latinos are the "new Italians."

Not only is that an evil lie, but the Italian influx of the late 19th, early 20th centuries was not an unmixed blessing. There are still disproportionate problems there.

And don't get me started on the rich, Leftist Jews.

josh said...

I think Italians were so popular in the 70's because of demand,not supply.Blacks were Americas darlings,everything that was dark was cool,whites were out. I rememebr mourning my blue eyes,as guys with blue eyes in pop culture were always portrayed as the "uncool";racist,evil businessmen,fat cops etc. NOT the guys who would get the poontang!(I would as the years went by revise my opinion of the peepers my daddy gave me!!!!!!) It didnt help that the coolest actor by far was Al Pacino,whom Diane Keaton praised as the most goodlooking of all the men she,uhm,"dated". What young white male didnt love Al? It was cool to be Italian;they were OUR answer to the righteous blacks."Hey! we can be ethnic too!'.The blacketty blacks had the Ghetto,the ultimate repository of cool stuff,& tough tough guys. But the Eye-Ties had the Mafia! And they were ours;white all the way. EY fuggettaboutit!

josh said...

Re the poster who said "hHells kkitchen" reffered to irish cooking: Wow. Just wow.

Anonymous said...

Vince Lombardi. The ultimate Italian American.

Anonymous said...

Where have you gone Joe Dimaggio....

Anonymous said...

The Italians and other mediterraneans were never much inhibited to begin with. That was perhaps why they missed out the Sixties. They really had nothing to revolt against. Their parents treated them well, which means in Anglo terms they were spoiled and indulged.

In contrast, Jews and Germanics, including WASPs and perhaps Irish, were very inhibited in the America of the 1960s. They needed to loosen up, and to rebel against authority both internal and external. They needed to hit their fathers back, and their teachers, and the whole damn Military-Industrial Complex.

Perhaps alternating between tyranny and anarchy, and having a need to rebel, is a Germanic thing. Maybe it's cultural, maybe genetic.

Anonymous said...

"The Italians and other mediterraneans were never much inhibited to begin with. That was perhaps why they missed out the Sixties."

They were more expressive as personalities but less free as individualities. It's like
Joe Pesci in Raging Bull. He could talk shit but within the rules of the culture and mindful of the pecking order.
It's like the Irish were more fiery as personalities than the British but less as free-thinking individualities.

Emotionalism isn't same as more freedom. Sicilians and Greeks were always hotheaded but lived in very repressive societies.
Here's proof:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgyGwSGwHdQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8u-ARnRai1o

Anonymous said...

They were more expressive as personalities but less free as individualities. It's like Joe Pesci in Raging Bull. He could talk shit but within the rules of the culture and mindful of the pecking order.

Perhaps. Being more tribal, Italians and other Meds had more tribal restrictions. And a lot of it was "pecking order". And there is much a thing as freedom to express, something that WASPs are famous for suppressing, in self and others. My experience with Italians is that many of them would be diagnosed with ADHD today.

IIRC, Nietzche discussed Thorian, Apollonian, and Dionysian cultures. The Thorian ones had the most control, repression, Law & Order. (And periodic revolts against such, IMO.) But they had low corruption, and were the ones most likely to "get things done". The Dionysian ones were the most free-spirited and anarchic. The Apollonians were somewhere in the middle.

Thorian: Germano-Protestant, Askenazic Jews, probably East Asians
Apollonian: Mediterranean, Sephardic Jews
Dionysian: Africa and [southwest] Asia, mestizo Latin America

The Anti-Gnostic said...

Serious Man makes us feel sorry for the 'helpless' Jew. It has nothing to do with Jewish power.

Serious Man is probably one of the most anti-Semitic films ever made. You leave that movie with the message ringing in your ears that Judaism is a dying, Talmudic cult with no answers for anything. Miller's Crossing was pretty unflattering as well.

Look at the relentless message of No Country For Old Men: the US was a better place when high-trust white people lived behind a line of ornery Texas sheriffs and beefy, suspicious border guards. Now that we've let the rest of the world in under the tent it's a zombie nightmare.

The Coen brothers are heroes.

Anonymous said...

To David Davenport:

"Then some serbs assassinated arch duke ferdie. Then WW1 started because Kaiser Billie wanted it that way."

Don't know if your joking or not but....

Kaiser Wilhelm NEVER wanted war. This may be the biggest myth of the 20th century's history.

Anonymous said...

"The Coen brothers are heroes."

They love Obama.

Small town white folks are idiots in Fargo.

KKK lurks everywhere in O Brother.

Anonymous said...

Did 60s happen in Japan in the 1860s?

Perfect storm of historical events:
bad harvests, foreign threats, weakening of Tokugawa order that had lasted 260 yrs, explosion of pentup energies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ee_ja_nai_ka

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pCYaGqpji_Q

FredR said...

"Munich is eye for an eye Zionist screed. "

lol

Anonymous said...

Best book about the 60s?

Storming Heaven by Jay Stevens, maybe?

Destructive Generation by Horowitz?

Evren J. said...

"josh said...

I think Italians were so popular in the 70's because of demand,not supply.Blacks were Americas darlings,everything that was dark was cool,whites were out. I rememebr mourning my blue eyes,as guys with blue eyes in pop culture were always portrayed as the "uncool";racist,evil businessmen,fat cops etc. NOT the guys who would get the poontang!(I would as the years went by revise my opinion of the peepers my daddy gave me!!!!!!) It didnt help that the coolest actor by far was Al Pacino,whom Diane Keaton praised as the most goodlooking of all the men she,uhm,"dated". What young white male didnt love Al? It was cool to be Italian;they were OUR answer to the righteous blacks."Hey! we can be ethnic too!'.The blacketty blacks had the Ghetto,the ultimate repository of cool stuff,& tough tough guys. But the Eye-Ties had the Mafia! And they were ours;white all the way. EY fuggettaboutit!"



Views like that have it all backwards, probably in part because the powers that be constantly want to depict blacks as better than whites and ignore crediting whites with anything.

The reality is, blacks copied Italians. The smooth street tough guy, the gangster, etc- all were originally from stereotypes of Italian young men, that blacks emulated. So much so, that they are the ones who are now associated with it, and depicted as the OGs.

Derek Brown said...

The KKK is played for total camp in Brother. Hell, the townspeople at the political rally run Pappy's opponent out of town on a rail because they like the Foggy Bottom boys more than the clan.

More in line with this post don't forget the line in Lebowski when wheelchair Lebowski tells the Dude" the sixties are over and you lost"

I think you do have a point though Fargo is very anti small town gentile but I think a lot of that was Franxes McDormand. she had even wanted to include a "scary"'pro life rally which the brothers cut. For an alternate take though I'd read James Bowman's review he finds Bud to be something an exemplar of hearth and home in the face of evil something no country lacks.

David said...

>The reality is, blacks copied Italians. The smooth street tough guy, the gangster, etc- all were originally from stereotypes of Italian young men, that blacks emulated<

Italian-American men (in stereotype) were the original gangstas in the entertainment world, that seems to be true. I'm thinking of the 1930s gangster movies along with the 1970s "Godfather," "Scarface," etc. Those fictional criminals have been emulated by every wannabee gangsta, whether Asian or black. "Once Upon a Time in America" argues the old line that the only way for outsiders to survive in America is to thug up. A line that has been taken to heart by all sorts of misfits, before and since. Did this start with the Irish? The Germans weren't known for gangs, but the Irish thugged up by going into the police and especially into machine politics; eventually this more or less civilized path led to real success. I know of no serious problem with Asian gangs until the past few decades.

David said...

Camille Paglia seems to grok '60s stuff, and says she did in the day too (in the academy, anyway).

Anonymous said...

"The reality is, blacks copied Italians."

Everyone copied everyone, but it seems that Italians were, for awhile, the ersatz-negroes for the Anglo-American dominated society.

Anglos felt threatened by Negroes, but Negro stuff had a certain appeal to whites, and so, Italians, as whigroes, served as a safe substitute. So, there was the teenage idol craze in the late 50s and early 60s. White parents who didn't like their kids listening to 'race music' could tolerate their kids going for Frankie Avalon and the like. It's like white parents in the 90s preferred their kids listen to New Kids on the Block than black stuff.

And when most white guys were quitting boxing in the 50s, Italians were still slugging it out. Marciano was the most famous boxer in the 50s. Carmen Basilio slugged it out with Sugar Ray Robinson and even won once.
So, white America found Italian-Americans both appealing and repulsive. As whites, Italians were still acting tough and badass. But as 'greaseballs', they were loud and crude.

White liberals and Jews found Italian-Americans useful too. They knew they couldn't push interracism overnight, and so, it would have to happen in stages. So, GREASE was a like a closet-interracist musical. A blonde golden girl falls for a greasy Italian-American. In the movie, Olivia Newton John is like white bread among ravioli. She's like pure water in thick olive oil.
But once the racial barrier was busted in the 60s, Italian-Americans lost their racial-substitute appeal.

And the later Italian-American cultural success in the 70s had less to do with Italian-Americanness than a kind of critique of the community by Italian-Americans who'd grown up in the 60s. Mean Streets is steeped in Italian-American culture but in a very unsettling and critical way.

Italian-Americans also used to own the gangster image, but 60s was the era of hippies and hipsters.
And the cool gangsters in the 70s and 80s became the negroes like bloods and crips.