It’s-A-Me, Hi, I’m the Problem: Why Chris Pratt Should Not Be Voicing Mario

Opinion posted April 4, 2023 in

“The Super Mario Bros. Movie” is highly-anticipated and a great addition to a legendary saga, but some have raised the question of why an American actor will voice Mario without an Italian accent.

There’s a difference between how Italian and Italian Americans are depicted in media.

When most people think of Italians, they think of only Italian-American characters and the media.

Most of this is “mafia culture,” coming from the only way of life Italians had to turn to when they immigrated to America.

Many Italians didn’t know English and instead worked in construction, but when that didn’t put food on the table, organized crime became the ethnicity’s popular culture.

Hollywood has taken that and turned it into a billion-dollar industry.

The most popular Italian-American medium is mob flicks.

“The Godfather,” “Goodfellas,” “A Bronx Tale” and “Donnie Brasco”: instant classics, but they represent Italian-Americans as Machiavellian, ruthless criminals.

The most notable Italian-American television show, The Sopranos, does the same thing over six seasons.

No matter how good these films are and whether or not they’re based on true stories, they still create stereotypes about a culture.

I’m Italian-American and will be the first to say that I love mob movies.

For me, it’s a way for me to observe how my culture interacted before I was born.

For example, the setting of “The Many Saints of Newark” is very similar to where my own family was based in New Jersey. However, I’m also aware of how non-Italian characters interact with mob figures in the films.

Besides mob figures, there isn’t a lot of representation of Italians or Italian-Americans in the media, except for the Barones from “Everybody Loves Raymond,” Joey Tribbiani from “Friends,” or Tony Micelli from “Who’s The Boss?”.

Even so, the writers of the respective show downplay Tribbiani and Micelli’s characters, both making them seem much dumber than they actually are (does anyone recall the episode where Phoebe taught Joey French?).

Mario and Luigi were arguably the only Italian characters that were heroes instead of anti-heroes or villains.

Mario went on an adventure, defeated the final boss and saved the pretty girl in every form of media he was in. Finally, a non-violent, kid-friendly way to represent Italian culture!

Now, he sounds like he just woke up from a ten-hour nap, rolled up to a recording studio and expected a paycheck.

It’s not the fact that a non-Italian will be voicing Mario: the iconic voice of the character, Charles Martinet, is French. The problem is that this actor will be paid millions of dollars to put in absolutely zero effort to properly represent a character to the next generation of kids to learn about the culture.

The director of the film, Chris Meledrandi (who is Italian-American himself), said that he feels he can “make the decision [to cast Pratt] without offending Italians or Italian-Americans.”

Well, you don’t speak for all of us.

Adrianna Gallucci is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact her, please email amg7989@psu.edu.