Mafia IIUpcoming action game Mafia II
traces the experience of a fictitious mobster working his way up the
Mafia food chain. To Italian-American service organization UNICO
National, however, that experience perpetuates unfair stereotypes.
On Thursday, UNICO president Andre' DiMino demanded that distributor
Take Two Interactive "halt" the August 24th release of the game. In a letter to Take Two boss Strauss Zelnick, DiMino called the game "a pile of racist nonsense."
"Why would [Take Two] foist a game on their targeted audience of
young people wherein they will indoctrinate a new generation into
directly associating Italians and Italian Americans with violent,
murderous organized crime, to the exclusion of all of the other 'mafias'
run by other ethnic and racial groups," he continued. "Take Two is
directly, blatantly and unfairly discriminating and demeaning one group
to the exclusion of all others. We are demanding they halt release of
the game and cleanse it of all references to Italians and Italian
Considering the entire game is based on the exploits of an Italian
immigrant making his way through a massive city run by competing Mafia
families, purging the title of its Italian ties is unlikely. And Zelnick
certainly isn't backing down.
"Mafia II tells a compelling story about organized crime in America -
a subject that for decades has been featured in movies, television
shows and novels," he responded in an official statement. "Neither UNICO
nor any other organization purporting to represent Italian-Americans
has seen or played Mafia II."
He also takes issue with the assertion that Mafia II targets "young people."
"At Take-Two, we balance our right to free expression with what we
believe is a thoughtful and responsible approach to creating and
marketing our products," he continued. "Mafia II is M-rated in
accordance with our industry's strict standards. It is specifically not
targeted toward young people."
"We will only release a title that meets our standards: as art, as
entertainment and as a socially responsible product. We aim to
distinguish creative and compelling story telling that advances artistic
expression from subject matter that gratuitously exploits or glorifies
violence or stereotypes. I fully and completely stand behind our
creative teams and products, including Mafia II."
Mafia II is just the latest media property to incur the wrath of UNICO. DiMino recently called out hit MTV reality show 'Jersey Shore' for using "ethnic slurs, violence and poor behavior to marginalize and stereotype Italian-Americans."
Likewise, this is hardly Zelnick's first time courting controversy.
As the parent company to both 2K Games (Mafia II, Bioshock) and Rockstar
Games (Grand Theft Auto, Manhunt, Read Dead Redemption), Take Two has
been on the receiving end of more angry letters than just about any
company under the sun.
Via Edge Online