It’s one of the oldest fights in entertainment. What is artistic expression and what is obscene? What is satire and what is exploitation? What is meant to be said and what is perceived to be said? Actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt now finds himself in this argument with his directorial premier Don Jon, as it comes under fire from the Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition.
“Here we go again,” said Italian American ONE VOICE founder Dr. Emanuele Alfano “The same shop-worn, racist stereotypes of Italian Americans in movies. It never ends.”
In Don Jon, Gordon- Levitt stars as Jon Martello, a porn addicted, self-obsessed New Jersey resident who has to come to terms with his intimacy issues. While Gordon-Levitt told Blast in a recent interview that the character of Jon is a troubled but hopeful allegory for the part of American culture that is emotionally disconnected, ONE VOICE had their own take.
“Jon Martello (is) a stupid, pornography-addicted, t-shirt wearing “Jersey Shore” clone whose day consists of the stereotypical ritual of “gym, tan, laundry.” said ONE VOICE’s recent press release. “Gordon- Levitt, himself the son of proud parents who once founded the Jewish Progressive Alliance and fought for social justice causes, should be ashamed.”
As well as Gordon-Levitt’s character, ONE VOICE has also attacked co-star Scarlett Johansson for her role as Jon’s girlfriend Barbara Sugarman.
“Martello falls in love with a Jewish woman the tight-jeaned, big-haired, high-heeled Barbara Sugarman.(sic)” said ONE VOICE. “With all the ‘Jersey Girl’ stereotypical trimmings, the two prance and preen through a predictable farce with forced ‘Jersey’ accents.
Tony Danza and Glenne Headly were also criticized for their roles as Jon’s parents. Danza, who ONE VOICE said is “Infamous for his lifelong portrayals of stupid, buffoonish Italian characters.” defended his role in the movie in a Huffington Post interview.
“I’ve been very lucky in my career that I haven’t had to denigrate Italians in my work,” Danza said. “I’ve sort of been the Italian they’re proud of. Just to make sure, I had a bunch of ‘vowels’ go in the other day. Guys whose names end with vowels. They go in and see the movie the other day. Not only did they give me the stamp, they gave Gordon-Levitt the stamp.”
ONE VOICE has added Don Jon and Gordon-Levitt to their “Wall of Shame” which puts the actor in such prestigious company as Robert De Niro, James Gandolfini, and Rizzo the Rat from The Muppets. Along with urging activists to hit up social media to contact the film’s production and distribution companies, Voltage Pictures and HitRecord film, Dr. Alfano urged Gordon-Levitt to take some of his own advice.
“Levitt, much like his pornography-addicted character, needs an intervention and should go into serious therapy for his ethnic denigration of Italian Americans.” said Alfano. “He ought to quit now, take this trite garbage out of movie theaters, and donate his profits to charity.”