August 14, 2019

"The implication of calling someone Fredo, like that of the alt-right insult 'cuck,' is of weakness, specifically a failure to live up to the masculine ideal."

"But Fredo is more of a complex, tragic figure than political mudslinging would allow....  In 'The Godfather,' [John] Cazale gave Fredo that sense of well-meaning haplessness.... The second 'Godfather' film brought Fredo into the foreground (not his natural place in the family portrait) and deepened him. Fredo’s involvement in a bungled attempt on Michael’s life ('I know it was you'), which leads Michael to succumb to his darkest instincts and commit fratricide, is at the movie’s tragic core, and it gives Cazale the most beautifully acted scenes of his career. The most iconic is the brothers’ conversation in the boathouse, when Fredo pitifully pleads for respect: 'Send Fredo off to do this. Send Fredo off to do that. Let Fredo take care of some Mickey Mouse night club somewhere. . . . I can handle things! I’m smart! Not like everybody says!' Cazale delivers this feckless rant with wide-eyed rage and self-pity, flopping up and down in his lounge chair like a beached guppy."



"But my favorite moment comes just before he’s whacked, as he sits with his young nephew Anthony by the lake with their fishing gear...."



"It’s probably the only time Fredo ever outshone his brothers.... Fredo’s death is as wrenching as it is only because we care so deeply about him—he’s pathetic, sure, but he has reserves of humanity that he never got to express, holding himself to an impossible yardstick of power and violence when all he wanted to do was go fishing....  More than four decades later, Fredo’s still not getting any respect, but at least he’s getting noticed."

From "Respect for Fredo, a Character Who Is So Much More Than a Political Insult" by Michael Schulman (The New Yorker).

Lots of people have been asking whether it's true — as Chris Cuomo asserted — that "Fredo" is the equivalent of the n-word. I think a big difference is that Fredo is a specific character. To call an Italian "Fredo" is more like calling a black person "Uncle Tom." With that kind of insult, we could go back to the origin of the character, as Schulman is doing with Fredo. But that's not what we usually do. The character takes on a meaning of his own within the insult. You won't be able to get away with calling someone "Uncle Tom" by detailing what's in "Uncle Tom's Cabin."

The Wikipedia article, "Uncle Tom," is broken into sections, with "Original characterization" ("a rejection of the existing stereotypes of minstrel shows... a Jesus-like figure") separate from "Epithet" ("an excessively subservient person, particularly when that person perceives their own lower-class status based on race... [or] who betrays their own group by participating in its oppression, whether or not they do so willingly").

It's interesting to go back to the original meaning of a term, but it won't and shouldn't get you off the hook when you use an epithet here and now.

123 comments:

gspencer said...

Cuomo's rant was an example of The Streisand Effect. Fredo will now be with him until the end,

"NY, NY, March 15, 2042 --- Longtime television personality Chris Cuomo lost his battle with lefty-itis today, surrounded by his family and former colleagues from the long-defunct news channel CNN. Always known affectionately as Fredo by his friends and critics alike, Cuomo aka Fredo was never ever able to regain his stature as a reporter following a rant in 2019 when Cuomo Fredo was out walking with his family and . . ."

rhhardin said...

You're not on the hook. You're riding on the hook, using it to get a point across.

A man's view of insults.

rhhardin said...

Pearl-clutching is all the fun.

h said...

And I think being called Fredo is especially galling to a person who is seen (or believes himself to be) failing to live up to accomplishments of a father and a sibling (Chris Cuomo, Donald Trump, Jr., perhaps Jeb Bush).

I Callahan said...

The implication of calling someone Fredo, like that of the alt-right insult 'cuck,' is of weakness, specifically a failure to live up to the masculine ideal.

The point of the term "Fredo" was meant as an insult to Chris Cuomo, and it follows the formula above to a tee. Despite the New Yorker once again making an attempt to protect one of its own.

Sometimes things are just that simple.

Beasts of England said...

A Fredo is an incompetent, not an Uncle Tom.

Howard said...

So basically Cuomo doesn't even rise to the level of Fredo.

rhhardin said...

The n-word fantasy is a white liberal thing. Imaginging blacks as children, not responsible for their own actions the way adults would be. Underaged children forced to deal with adults.

That's the blowback Cuomo is getting in fact. He's white and an a dult and so should know better.

Howard said...

BoE: He's also a traitor. ergo ipso facto UT

Birches said...

Calling someone an Uncle Tom is an insult, but it is not an epithet. Same with Fredo.

This isn't hard.

Michael The Magnificent said...

Well, if Cuomo doesn't like the name "Fredo", how about "Nazi", "hater", "KKK", "white supremacist", "slacked jawed", "knuckle dragging", "neanderthal", "extra chromosome", "mouth breather", "sloped forehead"? Those terms seem to be a-okay with the left.

rhhardin said...

Strong-ankled Hillary is a Homeric epithet.

tim in vermont said...

I don’t listen to Rush anymore, but I saw a transcript and when Fredo Cuomo was raving about Cuba, all I could think of was when he took Michael to the snuff show in Havana. It’s funny stuff.

tim maguire said...

I always wonder, when I see someone accused of being an Uncle Tom, if the person making the accusation read the book. I did, and the Tom I saw in the book is nothing like the Tom of the racist insult. (Despite being a specific person, Uncle Tom is a racist insult because it is an accusation that the black person isn’t being black properly.)

Fredo plays a key role in what makes the Godfather 2 a sublime movie transcending the genre. As the movie compares young Vito with young Michael—Vito uses “family” to mean his wife and children, with the mob being the vehicle through which he provides for them, and Michael uses “family” to mean the mob, with his actual family being merely tools used to advance the mob’s interests—in one of the final scenes with Vito, he is holding the baby Fredo in his arms (Fredo had just survived the illness that rendered him a simpleton and ultimately doomed him) and whispering to him, “Fredo, your father loves you very much.” Meanwhile, in one of the final modern-day scenes, Michael, Vito’s successor as family patriarch and therefore Fredo’s next caretaker, whacks him.

tim in vermont said...

The smeary part is associating Italian Americans with the Mafia. But since Cuomo allowed the “epithet” to be used on his show in describing the Trump family without a peep, I think he loses any sympathy he might have gotten on that score.

rhhardin said...

I record Rush but don't always have the volume on, depending on how tedious he's being. He's tedious a lot the last few years.

He's an idiot on morality, mathematics and economics, but he doesn't know it.

The problem is that you can't do larger-than-life self-deprecating humor on those topics, so all the appeal is gone.

Howard said...

Blogger rhhardin said... The n-word fantasy is a white liberal thing. Imaginging blacks as children, not responsible for their own actions the way adults would be.

Not at all really. Liberals think it's a horrible word that represents the wounds of genocide, rape and enslavement. There is no other equivalent word of such gravity. Dead Honkey? Let's hear the other slurs of equal or greater impact?

Ann Althouse said...

"You're not on the hook. You're riding on the hook..."

Like you're the worm not the fish?

buwaya said...

Fredo as a character also is not specifically Italian.
The third rater, the weakest sibling, the one who did not live up to a high standard.
This story required him, but its not an Italian him. You could have a Chinese Fredo.
I've known a few Chinese Fredos.

The Godfather, that unofficial chieftain of his people, that character was ethnic, and real. He was the embodiment of Gemeinschaft, plopped down in a society that is ostensibly Gesselschaft.

David Begley said...

I don’t know why people pity Fredo. According to Mo Green, he was banging cocktail waitresses two at a time.

And can we agree that The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II are two of the greatest movies of all time?

Howard said...

AAT: I know, right. Is Meyer Lansky chopped liver?

Beasts of England said...

I get your point, Howard, but Fredo was known for being an incompetent well before his betrayal. The latter is only a minor part of his character, especially as it applies to the moniker. Cuomo hasn't betrayed the family, he's just outside their traditional field of business.

Ann Althouse said...

"A Fredo is an incompetent, not an Uncle Tom."

I'm not equating them in the sense of saying the characters have the same qualities. I'm saying that both are insults that refer to a specific character, with particular qualities (that might not match up perfectly with the original character in context).

David Begley said...

How about a discourse on Mo Green? What the hell was he thinking? Stealing from the Corleone family?

Beasts of England said...

Thanks, Ann!

tim in vermont said...

When Bill Clinton used the Mafia thing to describe Mario Cuomo in a recorded “private” conversation, it was an ethnic slur and he apologized to Mario, even after denying he said it. But like I said, the son has allowed it to be used on his show, so who am I to judge? The more that comes out about that little incident, the worse Cuomo looks. He’s got Sonny's anger problem and Fredo’s intellect.

Tank said...

David Begley said...

I don’t know why people pity Fredo. According to Mo Green, he was banging cocktail waitresses two at a time.

And can we agree that The Godfather and The Godfather, Part II are two of the greatest movies of all time?


Scott Adams says that the Godfather movies are overrated. Tank disagrees. The first two were great, and no one says the last one was great. Adams is very good on some things.

I thought the idea of Fredo was that he was incompetent, weak and not very smart. It comes in the context of an "Italian" film, but is not about Italians. Rush had great fun talking about this yesterday.

In the olden days, Tank would not have been in favor of insulting people while they were out in public with their families. The olden days are gone, another thing ruined by the left.

Ann Althouse said...

"Calling someone an Uncle Tom is an insult, but it is not an epithet. Same with Fredo. This isn't hard."

Are we going to argue about the meaning of the word "epithet"?! I didn't attempt to do that, but here's something from Wikipedia, "Epithet":

"An epithet (from Greek: ἐπίθετον epitheton, neuter of ἐπίθετος epithetos, "attributed, added"[1]) is a byname, or a descriptive term (word or phrase), accompanying or occurring in place of a name and having entered common usage. It has various shades of meaning when applied to seemingly real or fictitious people, divinities, objects, and binomial nomenclature. It can also be a descriptive title: for example, Pallas Athena, Alfred the Great, Suleiman the Magnificent or Władysław I the Elbow-high. In contemporary use, epithet often refers to an abusive, defamatory, or derogatory phrase, such as a racial or animal epithet.This use as a euphemism is criticized by Martin Manser and other proponents of linguistic prescription."

Interesting topic, but I hadn't intended to examine it. I take it you mean the n-word is also not properly termed an "epithet."

If I were writing a post on this topic, I'd bring up the recent discussion of Smokey Bear, who is not "Smokey the Bear."

Wince said...

Fredo’s death is as wrenching as it is only because we care so deeply about him—he’s pathetic, sure, but he has reserves of humanity that he never got to express, holding himself to an impossible yardstick of power and violence when all he wanted to do was go fishing...

Feeling sorry for Fredo is a female thing, like hysteria.

"Can't you forgive Fredo? He's so sweet and helpless without you".

That is, until they find out Fredo has a #metoo past.

"He was banging cocktail waitresses two at a time!"

Chris said...

I never understood Uncle Tom as a put down, He was the hero!

traditionalguy said...

Fredo did not do his part in violent killing...so what use was he. He was probably the Mother's favorite that had to be given respect as respect for her. His days were over the day Mother died.

Patriarchy is a tricky thing. Be the God Father or be used until your role is written out of the script. Everybody must get stoned.

Fen said...

To call an Italian "Fredo" is more like calling a black person "Uncle Tom'

No, it really is not.

We have been calling the cucks FredoCons for almost 2 years now.

It has nothing to do with being Italian.

And Italians are not immune to such criticism simply because Fredo happened to be Italian.

rhhardin said...

"You're not on the hook. You're riding on the hook..."

Like you're the worm not the fish?


That's exactly the dynamics you want. The early bird gets the worm, not the early fish.

gspencer said...

"Fredo did not do his part in violent killing"

But he was expected to do that. When the Don is picking out oranges, Fredo is seated in the car, watching (or at least everyone expected him to be watching). And Fredo was packing heat. So good was Fredo's "watching" that the hitmen were next to the Don in the blink of an eye.

And the bumbling Fredo can't even get his gun into his hands, juggling it like a street performer.

Heartless Aztec said...

Our government and media as Mafiosos - where they whack each other figuratively and literally on screen and off.

buwaya said...

Patriarchy requires a patriarch, who has to be strong.
The weak don't get to be patriarchs.

Boys, sons, are ultimately expendable. They have to prove their value, or fail.
A son is a high risk, high return bet on the future.

Daughters are much less likely to fail. They are low risk, low return.

rhhardin said...

There is no other equivalent word of such gravity. Dead Honkey? Let's hear the other slurs of equal or greater impact?

There is no impact. Blacks use the n-word all the time. It's just that whites can't see how the protect the underaged children that blacks are from the impact works when it's one of those children that's using it. That's why it's allowed. Whites confused by their own narrative of the helpless child blacks.

As usual the leftist position makes the offense that it pretends to be fixing. Dig in where you are and you'll always be a powerful leftist.

Fen said...

Liberals think it's a horrible word that represents the wounds of genocide, rape and enslavement.

Masking the slur "nigger" is racist. You are treating a racial slur directed at blacks as worse than racial slurs directed at rural whites, Jews, Latinos, Chinese, Japanese etc.

I think liberals mask the slur because they still view blacks as subhuman "apes" with no impulse control. It's the bigotry of low expectations.

And african slavery is given too much weight. Look at the extermination of Native Americans, look at the Holocaust. Much worse.

rhhardin said...

The second mouse gets the cheese.

Rory said...

"I don’t know why people pity Fredo. According to Mo Green, he was banging cocktail waitresses two at a time."

In the Puzo novel, Fredo's a genuinely tough guy who falls apart when he sees his father gunned down. He's eventually sent to Vegas where he starts banging waitresses, but also learns to cook. He's a fairly minor character, but he seems to represent the physical man in contrast to Sonny's emotion and Michael's intellect.

narciso said...

No fredo betrays his brother, to the other families, as fontova points out, because the mobs owned a few casinos like cellinis the tropicana, that rationalizes fidel, so then the bahamas are due for a takeover

Rory said...

"How about a discourse on Mo Green? What the hell was he thinking? Stealing from the Corleone family?"

I think he thought like the Pesci character in Casino: "The bosses were a thousand miles away, and I don't know anybody who can see that far."

Seeing Red said...

Fredo’s death is as wrenching as it is only because we care so deeply about him—he’s pathetic, sure, but he has reserves of humanity that he never got to express, holding himself to an impossible yardstick of power and violence when all he wanted to do was go fishing....


It wasn’t wrenching, it was deserved.

Rory said...

"And Fredo was packing heat. So good was Fredo's "watching" that the hitmen were next to the Don in the blink of an eye."

Paulie Gato is the driver/bodyguard. Fredo is armed, yes, but he seems to act as a kind of factotum for his father. Michael's error is putting Fredo on the outskirts of the organization, where he's vulnerable to outside approaches.

narciso said...

Well michael was the golden boy, the dartmouth grad the army officer, hagan was based on the real sidney korshak.

Lloyd W. Robertson said...

Let's say there is a fairly common phenomenon: one brother greatly overshadowed by another. "Fredo" in the movies gives such a character a powerful demonstration, both good and bad. Do non-Italians like the idea that such a type is more common among Italians than among others? Is that implication what the other Cuomo was responding to? If so, Ann is right: it's no defence of using the term to say Fredo in the movies had some great qualities. Do non-Italians like to use it because of the implication that it says something about Italians? The other side of the macho guy--notably successful, possibly a criminal, may be a criminal--is the momma's boy?

Trump haters can be counted on to get things wrong. Within his family, Donald was never Fredo. That was the older brother. Birth order has little or nothing to do with it.

narciso said...


Of course benicio del toro is being given carte blanche to dial the narrative to eleventy, in a decaprio film


https://babalublog.com/2019/08/13/did-fredo-and-the-mob-really-run-pre-castro-cuba-like-the-democrat-media-hollywood-complex-always-claims-the-fully-documented-record-will-probably-shock-you/?utm_campaign=shareaholic&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=socialnetwork&fbclid=IwAR3Y5LzEKHkeqduSLN4KIe8hlui_DxGS2b1rebOw1u0fBK9QiGL80tLccYg

iowan2 said...

The word means what the culture says it means. Gay is no longer happy, light hearted, joyful. It has come to mean homosexual. Look at the etymology.

Fredo means weak brother, or weaker of their peers. Attempting to analyze the deep moral qualities of a fictional character smells of desperation, by those hoping to change the narrative.

Howard said...

Blogger Grand Beagle Fen said...You are treating a racial slur directed at blacks as worse than racial slurs directed at rural whites, Jews, Latinos, Chinese, Japanese etc.

Yes. There are levels. Pablum is homogeneous, but it's easy to swallow

William said...

I'd like to take this opportunity to instruct Italians on the proper way to be Italians and blacks on how to be black.....It seems to me that the saga of the Dimaggio brothers was a much more edifying and instructive story of how an Italian family adjusted to American life than that of the Corleones. In like way, there's more to learn from Uncle Tom than from Nat Turner, but black filmmakers seem to prefer Nat Turner as the better avatar of their struggles here.

narciso said...

Of course the times doesnt point out the instances the term has been employee againsr the trump family, and even men like nunes

Rory said...

"Dimaggio brothers"

Joe DiMaggio was Joltin' Joe in the media, but in the clubhouse he answered to "Dago."

MayBee said...

Uncle Tom and Fredo are both characters from a novel, but calling someone those names doesn't carry the same weight. You could call someone Chauncy Gardner and it wouldn't be the same, either. Different characters, different characteristics, different kinds of name-calling.

Fernandistein said...

Fredo tried to walk into a bar but he fell down the stairs.

The early bird gets the worm, not the early fish.

People often forget that the early worm gets eaten by the bird. That's what worries me.

mockturtle said...

Michael should have put Fredo on an island somewhere outside the Organization to keep him from bungling things.

mockturtle said...

Uncle Tom was a genuinely sympathetic character. I never saw Fredo that way.

Derek Kite said...

Cuomo is an ass. In real life and he plays one on TV. He might was well change his name, he is Fredo.

Fen said...

"Fredo did not do his part in violent killing"

Fredo was both untrustworthy and incompetent.

He allowed himself to be used to set up his own brother's murder.

In any wartime scenario, killing Fredo was an act of self-defense.

Fen said...

To call an Italian "Fredo" is more like calling a black person "Uncle Tom'

This is getting stupid.

Fredo's character is not a stereotype in any way of Italians. Not like "Guido".

Ambrose said...

There are also hints - more in the book than the movie - that Fredo was a closeted gay man, so Cuomo's petulance at being called Fredo (and his macho response) is also a bit homophobic.

tim maguire said...

This thread keeps reminding me of the joke: the early bird gets the worm, but the second mouse gets the cheese.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

John Mulaney has a funny bit about "the n-word" where he says something like if someone argues that some word [like Fredo] is as bad as the n-word it's pretty easy to prove that's not true: you can *say* the other word [Fredo] but you can only refer to "the n-word" and can't even say it. The one you can't say is worse.

I blame the victim Olympics, where everyone competes to prove their greater degree of victimhood, on Oprah. Imagine what our culture would be like had Oprah not become a huge celebrity! Everybody wants to be a victim and CNN's Fake News Fredo wants to pretend calling him that is as bad as someone using "the n-word" against a black person, and that it causes him just as much harm (and makes him as much of a victim as blacks have historically been in America).

I don't approve of people rudely accosting others in public. I'm naturally sympathetic to Fake News Fredo in this situation and the guy who successfully provoked him was acting like a jerk. I do note, however that Fake News Fredo has defended outright violence as a valid form of political expression and both he and his employer have called for almost exactly this kind of "confrontation" against their ideological opponents. I suppose it's possible being subjected to this himself will make Fake News Fredo change his mind about that, but I doubt it.

SGT Ted said...

"Fredo" means incompetent dummy. Pretty hilarious some think piece tries to puff it up.

Steve M. Galbraith said...

It's a movie, and a jab at Cuomo.

But no it has to represent white supremacy and Trumpian dystopia and how the world has been destroyed.

I mean the hysterical shrieking never ends.

Michael K said...

I think being called Fredo is especially galling to a person who is seen (or believes himself to be) failing to live up to accomplishments of a father and a sibling (Chris Cuomo, Donald Trump, Jr., perhaps Jeb Bush).

Bingo !

Also, Fredo was the oldest and his wife was a drunken slut.

Birkel said...

If you're worried about name calling against groups:

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=KVN_0qvuhhw

mtrobertslaw said...

What about Uncle Remus? Can we leave him out of this maelstrom?

HoodlumDoodlum said...

I won't link to the scene in True Romance where Dennis Hopper's character insults, in strongly racist terms, Christopher Walken's character (who is a Sicilian).

Suffice it to say there exist words that are the equivalent to "the n-word" that can be used against Italians. "Fredo" is not one of them.

Leland said...

Fredo is indeed an insult as is Uncle Tom. But so is calling people Deplorables and White Nationalists when you mean Nazi, and particularly when you intend to be invictive with those words.

It's tit for tat, but fredo made the mistake of letting the other side know it triggers him.

On a related but side note; I've started listening to the fighter pilot podcast. At the end of every episode, they discuss the guests callsign. It is often noted that the given callsign isn't what you want, and if you don't like it, then it is guaranteed to stick as your callsign. Fredo will now stick to Cuomo and he has himself to blame.

PJ said...

So if you call a non-Italian man Fredo in order to slag his intelligence and/or competence in comparison to other male members of his immediate family, it’s a mere insult, but if you call an Italian man the same thing with the same intent it’s an ethnic slur, have I got that?

gspencer said...

Ted Kennedy was the Fredo of that criminal enterprise.

So there.

TWWren said...

Calling someone 'Fredo' is not a racial slur akin to calling someone a 'N**g*r. Italians are not a race. So, is it an ethnic slur? I doubt it.

Howard said...

Blogger HoodlumDoodlum said... I won't link to the scene in True Romance where Dennis Hopper's character insults, in strongly racist terms, Christopher Walken's character (who is a Sicilian).

San Quentin Tarantino gets an n-word pass

rcocean said...

Fredo isn't an Italian insult. never. Its hard not to feel sorry for Movie Fredo. At the end he SEEMS To finally accept the truth that he's a dummy and becomes a harmless fisherman. But before that he was the most dangerous cocktail of arrogance and incompetence. He selfishly put himself before his brother and the family because he wanted "Something for me".

Because of him, Micheal almost got whacked and his children could easily have been killed. We feel the Micheal's eventual punishment, death, was excessive, but who knows if Fredo could ever have been trusted? Maybe he would've "accidentally" helped another gang to assassinate Michael.

rcocean said...

in order for "Fredo" to be an insult to Italians, it would have to be Italian specific. but its not.

Ice Nine said...

Calling someone - in this case Chris Cuomo - "Fredo" has nothing to do with Italians. It has to do with *Chris Cuomo*, the ineffectual family third-stringer, who happens to be Italian.

Do we see Italians being called "Fredo" a lot? Uh, no. It is nothing like "Uncle Tom." Chris Cuomo made up and blurted that silly idea out on the spot to serve his purpose at the moment. And CNN ran with the dumb idea in order to cover his ass.

rcocean said...

According to Fredo, Roth's men were just going to "scare" Michael not try to kill him. Did Fredo REALLY believe that? And if Michael had died, wouldn't Fredo have become the Godfather? This is a guy up to his eyeballs in organized crime. And what's wrong with managing a casino?

Its a tribute to the actor that we feel sorry for Fredo, and even like him a bit. But viewed objectively, he's a bad man.

rcocean said...

This proves how smart the Left is, unlike the Center-right. If a right-wing Cuomo had been called Fredo, he would've spent 5 minutes explaining why he wasn't like Fredo and trying to win the guy over to his side.

Cuomo just makes up crap about it being "Like the N-word" and immediately the guy is on the defensive.

Char Char Binks said...

I doubt anyone has ever used "Fredo" as an ethnic slur against Italians in general, but it's now Cuomo's name forever.

tcrosse said...

Street Italian has plenty of insults, and Fredo isn't one of them. Tony Soprano never called anybody Fredo.

PM said...

First of all, Fredo couldn't handle his woman. She emasculated him at the wedding. Everything else, the incompetence, the weakness stemmed from that. The betrayal of his brother always seemed to me to be a flaw in the script - an act too ballsy for Fredo.

langford peel said...

You know Michaels children called Hagen Uncle Tom all the time and nobody cared.

chuck said...

And here we see The New Yorker fishing. They can handle things! They're smart! Not like everybody says!

mockturtle said...

The betrayal of his brother always seemed to me to be a flaw in the script - an act too ballsy for Fredo.

When you also consider that Fredo deemed Moe Green a more powerful entity than his own brother, it is very believable. All a strong man has to do is convince Fredo of his own importance for Fredo to happily suck up to him.

mockturtle said...

Tom Hagen was my favorite Godfather character, even in the novel, but the subtle performance by Robert Duvall clinched it for me.

buwaya said...

It is a bit strange that Italians (mainly Sicilians) got stuck with the mafia thing. They were and are colorful, but in practice they were not the bulk of the system.

Btw, Al Capone, whose gang seems to have been the generator of a very large number of alumni, the true modern legacy of the mob, was not Sicilian at all. His people were from Salerno (just south of Naples). Its very interesting how so much connects back to Capone. He was an American "founding father" really.

The actual mafia was a conglomerate of ethnicities, as much Eastern-European Jewish as Italian - indeed the most economically significant leaders were predominantly Jewish - and in the Mid-west at least as much Irish as either of those.

A "Godfather" movie about the Jewish part of this system, tracing the whole thing from Eastern European ghettos to California mansions would be very interesting, but probably not likely to get made.

mockturtle said...

The actual mafia was a conglomerate of ethnicities, as much Eastern-European Jewish as Italian - indeed the most economically significant leaders were predominantly Jewish - and in the Mid-west at least as much Irish as either of those.

This was made clear in The Godfather I & II as well as in other gangster films. More than half of the most famous American gangsters were either Jewish or Irish.

Balfegor said...

Difference between Fredo and Uncle Tom is that for all intents and purposes, none of the people who use "Uncle Tom" as an insult have ever read Uncle Tom's Cabin (nor have I). But lots of people, probably most people who would think to use "Fredo" as an insult have actually seen Godfather 1 and 2, so they know who the character is, and are referring specifically to that character. "Fredo" hasn't taken on a life beyond the character in the movie, and it's not an ethnically specific insult the way Fritz or Frog or Boche or Nip or Kraut or Chon or Hun or "Uncle Tom" are. Hence why people regularly refer to Donald Trump Jr. as the "Fredo" of the family, when he's clearly GOB Bluth.

Ray - SoCal said...

Fredo is branding, and very Alinsky of Trump to pour gasoline on a fire, furthering the Alinsky affect. The tweet about Red Flag Laws was brilliant.

It's interesting how Big Tech is trying to smother this with a pillow. It was trending and in search, and now it's gone, how 1984.

Fred was used in lots of Trump bashing, and now Cuomo is playing the victim card since it was used against him.

Bay Area Guy said...

@Mock,

When you also consider that Fredo deemed Moe Green a more powerful entity than his own brother, it is very believable. All a strong man has to do is convince Fredo of his own importance for Fredo to happily suck up to him.

Yes, but think about Fredo's deep humiliation. Eldest Son/future Godfather, Sonny, is killed. Godfather says, in effect, sorry Fredo, you're weak, I'm skipping over you, and tapping your younger brother Michael as the next Godfather. Have a nice day.

I've seen that same dynamic in family businesses, where one kid was promoted over another kid -- it leads to a lotta crazy shit.

mockturtle said...

But Corleone skipped over Fredo because he was a foolish, weak and incompetent bungler. Don't put the cart before the horse.

mockturtle said...

Uncle Tom's Cabin is a very well-written novel. It should be read as an American classic, IMO, but of course it won't be.

Laslo Spatula said...

Fredo works as an insult because it has a depth and specificity to it, while remaining universally accessible.

It's similar to the Sarah Jessica Parker = Horse Face shorthand. Unless you're describing a dude who's got a horse face -- then you reference Kathy Griffin.

I am Laslo.

PM said...

mockturtle: Moe Greene slapped Fredo around in Vegas, but it was Johnny Ola, agent for Hyman Roth, who used Fredo to set up the shooting.

Birkel said...

My link at 9:32 above is funny.
Just sayin'...

n.n said...

Whatever the truth, Cuomo perceives an association between Fredo and slight. This is why the media, activists, politicians have developed style guides that form close associations.

But so is calling people Deplorables and White Nationalists when you mean Nazi

Bitter clingers, anti-science, anti-woman, anti-this that and the other, etc. when people do not share their faith, quasi-religion, ideology, and political outlook.

Racist, sexist, etc. when they mean diversitist (i.e. color judgment).

Phobic when they mean projections of fear and hate that someone will tolerate but not indulge special and peculiar interests, up to and including indoctrination and medical corruption.

Anti-immigrant when they mean pro-native and immigration that does not exceed the rate of assimilation and integration. As well as emigration reform that mitigates progress of immigration reform, especially catastrophic anthropogenic immigration reform, at both ends of the bridge and throughout.

Anti-social justice when they mean pro-justice, on principle, observable, reproducible, and equal, not politically congruent.

Anti-choice when they mean pro-life, pro-choice, one, two, three, and four, but not wicked because people acknowledge the faculty and moral character of women and men, and evolution of human life from conception, the presumptive origin of conscioueness from around the fifth week.

Ethics when they mean quasi-religion (e.g. Pro-Choice). Penumbras and emanation from the twilight fringe, an established Pro-Choice quasi-religion, and progressive liberal ideology.

Michael said...

Fredo had the misfortune of being a man of modest intellect born into a powerful family. If he had been raised in a suburban ranch house he probably would have lived out a conteneted life selling insurance and taking the kids fishing in the early morn.

Yancey Ward said...

Fredo wasn't so much a traitor as he was weak willed and just a bit dull in intellect. Michael's enemies are able to use these deficits to manipulate Fredo into betraying Michael. One of the key scenes in the second Godfather movie is the one where Michael goes to Vegas to tell Mo Green that the Corleones are coming to take over the casinos, and Fredo objects to Hagen and asks that Hagen talk to Vito, but Hagen tells him that Vito is retired. This is when Michael reveals that he knows how Green treats Fredo as an underling undeserving of respect of being a Corleone. Fredo does none of the betrayal to take over from Michael, he does it for the promise of actually very little in promised recompense- if memory serves, "a piece of something".

He is a tragic figure in the film, but the insult is tied to his weakness in will and ineptitude. Same with Judas.

Rory said...

"Michael should have put Fredo on an island somewhere outside the Organization to keep him from bungling things."

I've always thought involuntary commitment would have done the trick.

Danno said...

New headline at Fox on CNN's bad week, featuring Fredo in the clickbait pic.

gspencer said...

"involuntary commitment would have done the trick"

Joseph Kennedy (1888-1969), head of another crime family, did just that to one of his daughters.

"In response to these and other difficulties, [Rosemary] Kennedy's father arranged a prefrontal lobotomy for [Rosemary] Kennedy when she was 23 years of age. The procedure failed, leaving Kennedy permanently incapacitated and rendering her unable to speak intelligibly. Kennedy spent most of the rest of her life being cared for in an institution in Jefferson, Wisconsin."

Temujin said...

This is insanity. Calling Cuomo 'Fredo' is nothing more than a tip of the hat to Godfather II. It's saying Chris is to Mario as Fredo was to The Don.

He's fictional. Calling Chris Cuomo the name of a fictional character to mock his usefulness and intelligence is not racism. It's called accuracy. And it's pretty hilarious to watch it become a thing to be discussed as the Professional Left continues to try to change the meaining of words.

Phil 314 said...

So does this make Andrew Cuomo Michael Corleone?

Balfegor said...

Re: mockturtle:

Uncle Tom's Cabin is a very well-written novel. It should be read as an American classic, IMO, but of course it won't be.

Mm, probably not. Again, haven't read it, but I have read Frederick Douglass's memoirs, and I think they (perhaps in abridged form) should be required reading. Better than -- to dredge up a recent post -- reading Toni Morrison's Beloved.

rehajm said...

But Fredo is more of a complex, tragic figure

Chris Cuomo is more of a simple, tragic figure.

TwoAndAHalfCents said...

Thank you, Birkel. That was very funny!

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Specifically, to fail to live up to the human ideal: competence, integrity, self-moderation.

Earnest Prole said...

To call an Italian "Fredo" is more like calling a black person "Uncle Tom."

Your analogy is weak: I hear non-Italians called "Fredo" all the time but I've never heard a white person called "Uncle Tom."

chuck said...

Patriarchy requires a patriarch, who has to be strong.

Reminds me of an Afghani I knew. When his father took a second wife, he complained, then ran when his father reached for a gun. His father had a reputation...

Michael K said...

Its very interesting how so much connects back to Capone. He was an American "founding father" really.

My kids have always been fascinated that my father knew him. My father was in the juke box business during the war and after the war, the Mafia got interested in that business. My father had to get out.

Danny Stanton used to hold me on his knee when I was little

My mother was always nervous as she worried he would get shot with me sitting there.

he was killed with his associate Louis Dorman on May 5, 1943.


Steve M. Galbraith said...

Fredo does none of the betrayal to take over from Michael, he does it for the promise of actually very little in promised recompense- if memory serves, "a piece of something".

Yes, I completely agree with that narrative. In a later scene with Michael/Pacino, Fredo explains that he wanted "something for myself" and not something given to him by Michael, his younger brother. He was upset that he, as the oldest, got help from his younger brother.

He was unknowingly used, manipulated. He really didn't think that they would try to kill Michael; and certainly not do it to remove Michael from his path to power.

narciso said...

Heh:

https://www.steynonline.com/9624/right-said-fredo

Fernandistein said...

Poor Frodo, he'll never live this down or get to wear his ring of power, ever again.

Fernandistein said...

Calling Cuomo 'Fredo' is nothing more than a tip of the hat to Godfather II.

That should be "was nothing".

Now "Fredo" means a stupid noisy guy making empty threats after having a steroid-rage over nonsense.

Bay Area Guy said...

@Doc K,

My kids have always been fascinated that my father knew [Capone]. My father was in the juke box business during the war and after the war, the Mafia got interested in that business. My father had to get out.

Great book called, "The Oufit" by Gus Russo.

It doesn't glamorize the mafia, but, instead, delves into the history of the Mafia, particularly the Chicago heirs of Capone who wormed their way into large segments of legit business (Hollywood, Teamsters, politics, music industry, construction, etc,etc).

Cash businesses (like your father's juke box business) were prime targets for the Mob. And, the Teamster's Pension fund (controlled by Jimmy Hoffa) was their investment bank a la Goldman Sachs to build casinos, resorts, shopping malls, etc, etc.

wholelottasplainin' said...

I remember Limbaugh referring to Fredo's late father as "Mario the Pious", an appellation which still gets mentioned when the latter's name comes up.

Example:

http://www.usmessageboard.com/threads/gov-cuomo-renames-tappan-zee-bridge.729301/

wholelottasplainin' said...

Btw, Al Capone, whose gang seems to have been the generator of a very large number of alumni, the true modern legacy of the mob, was not Sicilian at all. His people were from Salerno (just south of Naples).
**************

Interesting. An Italian, a Roman at that, once told me that "Africa begins at Naples."

MartyB said...

It appears to me "Fredo" is a insult to a *specific* person, much like "Uncle Tom" might be, even if the original characterization of Fredo or Uncle Tom really has nothing to do with how the insult might be used in popular culture.

But this is completely different from the N- word, which is an insult to an entire race, so Cuomo comes off an idiot trying to claim some sort of "racism" - lowering the meaning (and impact) of that word even further.

Sure, he has a right to respond to the personal insult, but foolishly took it too far, so now everybody will now call him Fredo, because his response fits the characterization pretty closely - a guy who wants respect, but people won't give it to him. What's he gonna do, throw everyone who calls him that down the stairs?

BTW, it doesn't appear to me the guy who insulted him backed down. He just refused to get into a fist fight, so I think your characterization in the other post is simply incorrect.

JamesB.BKK said...

It is only black people (and their self-appointed white helpers) that call other black people "Uncle Tom" and it is to pull them down when they are acting too respectable and doing such things as using proper English and saving money for the future. It is of a piece with "Oreo" which means black on the outside, white on the inside. These are insults that designed to maintain a loser counter-culture or under-culture among the wealthiest and most opportunity-optioned blacks in the world, which inhabit the United States, and have nothing to do with calling out a fink and weakling of Italian descent.

It is a weird bird that finds so many sympathetic traits in Fredo.

Douglas said...

Kurt Schlistet, the conservative columnist, has been calling anti -Trump Republicans “Fredo-cons” since 2016. There doesn’t seem to be any kind of ethnic slur involved. It’s just a riff on the movie character. So Chris “Fredo” Cuomo ought to just suck it it up or come back with a better insult.

Michael K said...

Cash businesses (like your father's juke box business) were prime targets for the Mob

Yeah. The other factor was the shellac records, which were poor quality and after the war wore out too fast to make money. He did not anticipate the 45 record, which was plastic. TV really killed the juke box, though. He hated TV and we did not have one until I was in 8th grade. A friend gave us one for Christmas.

Several mobsters he knew got killed and he was probably happy to be out of that business. It made good money during the war. He had been in WWI and was too old for WW2.

Tina Trent said...

We do not use Fredo as an insult. Never heard anyone say that.

The correct term is Jibone. Hard e.

My grandfather had to pay a portion of his hard-earned plumber's wages to the mafia every week. They wouldn't let him work outside of increasingly crime-ridden ghettos. He got his family out but had to travel for hours, endure daily danger, go home in filthy work clothes, and then pay off the thugs.

Finally he was "allowed" to "buy out" and planned to grow tomatoes on a few acres he bought outside the city.

Fell off a barstool celebrating, from a stroke, and never walked again. No farm. He hated Scorcese and the Godfather movies. He thought they degraded us. He was right.

He sure would have hated Cuomo Junior for precisely the same reason.