“While one could lose his job, or at the very least his reputation, for openly mocking a fill-in-the-blank, you can still ridicule Americans of Italian heritage and suffer little-to-nothing in return” rages the New York Post’s Phil Mushnick, perhaps the only columnist alive with the guts to stand up to the oh-so-powerful fill-in-the-blank media cabal.
Last Sunday, ESPN was providing that day’s NFL highlights, including a blocked punt that was returned by Bucs DB Sabby (Sabatino) Piscitelli (above). Over this footage, ESPN anchor and signature personality Chris Berman said, “And he goes all the way to the 22-yard line.”
Except, as Berman said this, he stepped into a stereotypical “deeze and doze” Brooklyn-Italian accent; he cleverly attached an uncultured and uneducated Italian-American dialect to the name Piscitelli.
“Could you imagine,” asks reader John Siciliano of The Bronx, “if he did an impression of a stupid Hispanic or a stupid African-American?”
No, I couldn’t.
How about an Asian? Could one imagine Berman speaking imitation Chinese, Korean or Japanese – pronouncing his Ls as Rs, as if ordering “flied lice” – over clips of Yao Ming, Chan Ho Park and Hideki Matsui?
Or maybe speaking with a thick Eastern European/Lower East Side pushcart Yiddish accent over footage of Sandy Koufax or Kevin Youkilis?
Or speaking with over-the-top, feminized affectations when clips appear of Greg Louganis or Billie Jean King?
None of us could imagine that from most career sports broadcasters, not in 2008. That’s because most recognize that such cheap, bigoted, unfunny humor is long gone – and good riddance.
Though Phil’s general point is well taken, he did lose me towards the end. Is Mushnick suggesting Billie Jean King isn’t female?