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Elaine writes...

Hi, I have an observation to make about your character Vinny. You said once, in the very old 'Ask Greg' Archives that Vinny's last name would be Gregarino or something like that. Anyway, my comment is on how you chose to make this character Italian.

The common stereotype used in television about Italian New Yorkers is that we're dumb, talk with exceptionally strong NY accents, and are all named Vinny. Examples of these stereotypes can be seen in "Saturday Night Fever" and "Friends" and that Spike Lee movie "Son of Sam" (with name adjustments).
As far as I can tell, Vinny on Gargoyles (whose more or less a 'joke' character) also lives up to this very inaccurate stereotype of Italian people. I, as an Italian, find this is a little bit offensive, especially on a show that is known not to use racial stereotypes.
One of the greatest things about 'Gargoyles' (besides its great storylines and animation, etc.) is that it's racially diverse and fair.
I guess this leads to the question of was making this 'foolish' character Italian done on purpose?

Or is this entirely my imagination?

Don't get me wrong, I really love the show and everything, but the Italian stereotype thing always upset me a little bit.

Greg responds...

Actually, though you may have a point, you're missing the joke. Vinnie was based on the not-too-bright-yet-somehow-wise character of Vinnie Barbarino from the television series WELCOME BACK KOTTER. Now you may not be fond of the Kotter Vinnie for the reasons stated above, but we were. Particularly, since Jeff Bennett did such a hilarious imitation of the character. But we certainly weren't intending to offend Italians. Just to summon up the memory of a beloved character.

The Gregarino joke, was again a reference to Vinnie Barbarino. Not to Italians in general. The idea being that Vinnie (in "The Journey" specifically) represented a stand-in character for me, personally. So I was combining my name with Barbarino's to get Gregarino.

I hope that explains it, and if it doesn't then you have my apologies.

But I don't see how you can toss "Saturday Night Fever" into the mix you listed above. (Haven't seen "Son of Sam", so I can't comment on that.) Almost EVERY character, smart, sympathetic, dumb, arrogant, etc. was Italian in that movie. The characters ran the gammut. Yeah, dumb included. But if you're showing the full spectrum, I think you get some immunity.

Response recorded on August 21, 2000