Taken or Mistaken
I recently received an email from Barbara Tzetzo Gosch that raises an interesting issue: In the just released movie, TAKEN, Albanians are portrayed as the villains. Could this be the beginning of a trend? Please read her comments below and let us know what you think.
"Taken" or "Mistaken"
Has anyone seen the popular suspense thriller "Taken" currently being shown at movie theaters throughout the country? It stars the great Irish born actor, Liam Neeson, whom you may remember as the hero in "Schlindler's List"- Neeson helps Jews escape from the Nazis. In "Taken" Neeson again assumes the role of hero. This time he plays a father(retired from the CIA) trying to save his daughter who has been kidnapped by thugs and sold into the sex trade business.
Who are the bad guys in this movie? Albanians. Yes! They're the Albanian Mafia which appears to be the "New Albanian" image that the American public sees. While I saw ads for this movie on television, I didn't pay much attention to them. Later, through an email, a friend said she detested the plot of "Taken" and that it was a true story. I didn't believe that was correct."Taken " is not a true story, but it could be. In addition, I discovered that the translation of sugar in Albanian is incorrect.
Shortly after hearing from my friend, my son called from out of town. "Mom, you're not going to like this, " he said. "I was listening to NPR and I heard a movie review on "Taken" and they talked about these gangster,thug, Albanians." He was right. Not only was I upset by this ugly portrayal of Albanians, but I realized that whenever there is anything about Albania or Albanians by the media(TV or movies) it's negative. Remember the (1997) film"Wag the Dog" with Robert De Niro and Dustin Hoffman? Albania was a joke. In a recent James Bond movie, the villian was Albanian, and in an episode of TV's "Law and Order," Albanians were depicted as part of the Albanian Mafia in New York. There is even a game out-you got it, Albanians are the bad guys again.
I want it understood that I believe in the First Amendment to the Constitution and freedom of speech. But, I also believe in taking pride in one's own culture and showing both sides. In my family, I grew up with ideas of Albanians standing for freedom and independence, along with a rich cultural heritage. Thus, I object to this unfavorable one-sided impression of Albanians often viewed in visual terms which is very effective in influencing people.
A friend asked (when I mentioned I was going to write on this topic) "Why do it? Look at the Italians. They lived with it." "But," I said with a sense of humor, "Italians have Tony Bennet and Old Blue Eyes (Sinatra). The list goes on and on. Furthermore, the Italian community has voiced objections about how they are portrayed(for years) in an unfavorable image. There have been other groups as well, such as, women, Native Americans and African Americans, etc. The list is endless.
Why doesn't our ethnic community speak up? Isn't it time so that we are not consistently "mis-taken" for who we are?
Barbara Tzetzo Gosch