Southern-Italian American ‘Education Attainment’ – Census Numbers ... “Read ‘em ‘n Weep”...Guidos Galore
While the Italian American ‘prominenti’ and ‘literati’ engaged in an intra class ‘dust-up’ over the “Jersey Shore/Guido” thing, both points of view are manifestations of their respective ‘upper-middle class’ perspective largely devoid of lower class reality. While the ‘prominenti’ express their usual indignation about media denigration of Italian Americans, and the ‘literati’ express their usual indignation about the ‘prominenti’ indignities (I think I have that right. The debate is very “Waiting For Godot”-ish); neither, the ‘prominenti’ nor the ‘literati’ extrapolate the lifetime socioeconomic and cultural implications of the ‘Guido’ mentality, lifestyles and values for the lower class twenty-something southern-Italian Americans.
Introduction – the perennial debate: prominenti vs. literati
At its début, predictably, the reality show Jersey Shore featuring twenty-something Italian Americans brought the champions of Italian American culture into the ‘jousting lists’ once again. The ‘knights of virtue’ who defend Italian American dignity against slanderous representations vs. the ‘champions of “What me worry?”, artistic and academic freedom, and free speech faced off again, as they did over The Godfather, the Sopranos, etc.
Each of these groups represents the opposite side of the same upper-middle class coin. Theirs are ideological debates in terms of the upper-middle class Italian American value systems of the respective groups.
The reality of the southern-Italian American lower classes (i.e. the vast majority of the Italian American population); their standard of living, their sense of Italianita, their values and opinions, their future and the future of southern-Italian Americanita are not part of the discussion. Ironically, all these upper-middle class debates are about movie and television story lines built around the lives of the lower classes of southern-Italian Americans.