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Rustic Tony

This sign hangs from the ceiling of our favorite local pizza buffet. It’s a barely humorous ad, and I didn’t consider it bad in any way. But then, I’m not Italian. I could see an argument for Italians taking offense at “rustic” being considered particularly Italian.*

This is a national restaurant chain, and presumably a national ad campaign. But have you heard any news about any Italians or Italian-Americans or any Tonys being upset over this portrayal of them as rustic? Or that Tony is a stereotypical Italian name?

The concept got me thinking about how something like this is okay for one group, but probably wouldn’t be okay for another group.

Say the restaurant had a new squid pizza:

Any more Japanese and we would’ve named it Akira

A curry style:

Any more Indian and we would’ve named it Guru

An “urban” style (vice “rustic”):

Any more Urban and we would’ve named it Lebron

A Mexican style:

Any more Mexican and we would’ve named it Jose

A koshur style:

Any more Jewish and we would’ve named it Hiram

Would such signs be acceptable? I would bet such signs would stir up controversy and anger. There might be opinion articles decrying the insensitivity, protests against some ‘ism, calls to boycott until the company “made things right.”

So, is it that Italians are undersensitive? Or is everyone else oversensitive?

* rustic -from Dictionary.com
of, pertaining to, or living in the country, as distinguished from towns or cities; rural.
simple, artless, or unsophisticated.
uncouth, rude, or boorish.
a country person.
an unsophisticated country person.


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4 Responses to Rustic Tony

  1. Webbra says:

    I never thought of rustic being negative. And I never thought Tony was an Italian name.

  2. Rykion says:

    Rustic Italian is a term often used to refer to the style of food found in the Italian countryside. It’s not an insult. Tony comes from Anthony which comes from the Latin Antonius, so it’s a pretty Italian name.

  3. poilbrun says:

    It’s funny, I don’t read it the same way you do.

    The way you seem to read it is: “If it was more rustic and thus more Italian, we would have named it Tony.”

    The way I read it is: “It’s Italian and rustic, we called it The Rustic. If it was more Italian (but not any more rustic), we would have named it Tony.”

    In my view, the change of name depends on the degree of Italian-ity. In yours, it seems it’s on the degree of rustic-ity, which you equate to Italian.

    By the way, I’m not American, but I’m of Italian descent and my father’s name is Antonio, nicknamed Toni (with an i, not a y)

  4. Bullgrit says:

    My point was, the term “rustic” and the name “Tony” are stereotypes of Italy/Italian, but nobody has a problem with this advertisement. (I don’t have a problem with it, either.)

    But if the same verbiage was used for a different nationality/ethnicity, there would be an uproar of offense.

    Either no one cares about the sensitivities of Italians, or Italians just aren’t as over-sensitive as other nationalities/ethnicities.

    I find this interesting.

    Can you imagine the response to such an ad saying, “Any more Middle Eastern, and we would have named it Mohammed.”

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