Statement About DreamWorks SKG and DreamWorks Animation's Shark Tale by Columbus Citizens Foundation President Lawrence Auriana: Response to DreamWorks Comments.
Stereotyping is an ugly, discredited practice that has no place in a movie marketed to children.
In comments to the Associated Press made on September 14, 2004, in response to a statement by the Columbus Citizens Foundation, a DreamWorks spokesman maintained that the movie is a comedy and that its villains become "heroes" (Link: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=entertainmentNews&storyID=6235838
Whether Shark Tale is a comedy and whether its bad guys transform during the course of the movie is irrelevant. Regardless of the genre or ending of the film, children will absorb and become imprinted with the insidious message they are exposed to throughout the film. The message is that characters with particular traits common to one distinct ethnicity -- in this case Italian-Americans -- are ignorant, violent, criminal and racist.
Stereotyping in movies for children is unacceptable, regardless of what race, religion or ethnicity is targeted.
In addition to the movie, DreamWorks has created a line of books for children related to Shark Tale. These books, like the movie, characterize the story's villains as ignorant, violent, criminal and racist. Various villains in the book use extortion, praise violence and use strong language that stereotype the characters. In one passage of Dreamworks' Shark Tale: Movie Novel, by Louise Gikow, ISBN: 0-439-64144-6, a character named "Giuseppe the Hammerhead" says, "May whoever did this die a thousand deaths. May his stinking, maggot covered corpse rot in the fiery depths of hell." [p. 43]
In another section, the boss of one family, Don Lino, says, "Your brother Frankie, now, he's a killer ... He's beautiful. He does what he's supposed to do." [p. 20]
These characters, identified by Italian names, are clearly violent, vengeful creatures. DreamWorks and, in particular, Steven Spielberg should be ashamed of making that association.
We hold Steven Spielberg accountable. Mr. Spielberg is a principal in DreamWorks SKG, the parent company of DreamWorks Animation.
DreamWorks has said that Mr. Spielberg has nothing to do with the movie and runs DreamWorks's live-action business. Yet he is a principal in the company and should have stopped this project long before it reached this stage.
Mr. Spielberg has been an impassioned, eloquent critic of stereotyping. In a New York Times article of March 9, 2004, he was quoted as follows: "We are in a race against time for the conscious minds of young people" and need to teach them "the dangers of stereotyping ... "
His inspiring words are inconsistent with his sanctioning of this project. On this subject he is hypocritical.
We again call on DreamWorks to strip Shark Tale's characters of ethnic stereotyping by removing the film's references to Italian-Americans before the its United States release on October 1st and to recall its related books for children from bookstores.
Contact: Andrew Decker 212.222.4688 Andrew.Decker@att.net
CONTACT: Andrew Decker of Columbus Citizens Foundation, +1-212-222-4688, Andrew.Decker@att.net
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|Date:||Sep 15, 2004|
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