Any Truth to Vince Cassel's "Mafia Dubber" Claims?

“There’s film dubbing in France, too, but the dubbers don’t have so much power that they run the show. There are the creators and the dubbers. The dubbers stick to the voice-overs. When there’s a dubbers’ strike, the cinemas don’t close.”
Vince Cassel may have thought he was joking. 

The Italian voice-over industry acts like the Mafia, French actor Vincent Cassel said.

Now, he's probably using hyperbole to draw attention to an issue that annoys him. I am not for one minute suggesting what he said is true! Not at all.....

But if one considers what he says in light of what we know about the mob's infiltration of labor, then the Italian film dubbing industry is actually the perfect example of how the Mafia takes over entire industries by controlling the labor force via unions.

Still, I am not saying this is the case. Not at all. Consider this an educational exercise -- and that only. I mean nothing more or less.... 


“In Italy it is difficult to see a film in the original language, because the voice actors here are a Mafia,” Cassel told the Independent.

“There’s film dubbing in France, too, but the dubbers don’t have so much power that they run the show. There are the creators and the dubbers. The dubbers stick to the voice-overs. When there’s a dubbers’ strike, the cinemas don’t close.” (Note: When there’s a dubbers’ strike, the cinemas don’t close" -- in France. Does he mean in Italy the cinemas do close when there's a dubbers' strike? Just a rhetorical question -- only that and nothing more...)


In Italy dubbers seem to have a lot more power than the filmmakers themselves, which is quite a powerful allegation.

Indeed, consider the impact of Cassel’s comments in Italy itself:

His claims "caused a storm" as in Italy, there is a history of preference for "dubbed versions of foreign movies, resulting in an entire industry of voiceover artists."

As one report noted:

Many (dubbers) have become stars in their own right: when Claudio Capone, the man who was the Italian voice of John Travolta, died in 2008, tributes poured in.
Cassel, whose new movie Un moment d’égarement (One Wild Moment) debuts in Italian cinemas on March 24, is upset that the local dub of the Jean-François Richet-directed comedy loses nuances in the Parisian and Corsican accents spoken by its French characters
Newspaper reports touted how, in June 2014, a 15-day strike by the country’s dubbers meant several US TV shows were broadcast in their original language with Italian subtitles.


This brought complaints from the many fans of those television shows.

Years earlier, in 1998, "dozens of Hollywood films had their Italian releases delayed due to industrial action."

Now what the fck is an industrial action? 

I found this 1998 New York Times article which immediately snapped several things into perspective:

For the first time in Italian history, Reva, the heroine of ''The Guiding Light,'' beat on the chest of her handsome shipwreck companion and raged this week in her native English. Tiny subtitles tried to keep up with the heaving dialogue, but most loyal television viewers were confused and outraged.

The broadcast of one of Italy's most beloved soap operas in its original soundtrack was the most startling sign to date of the havoc a two-month strike by dubbers has wreaked on the Italian television and movie industry. The strike also threatens to block the release of ''Saving Private Ryan,'' Steven Spielberg's latest hit, ''Lethal Weapon 4'' and more than a dozen other long-awaited movies.

Italians have long grown inured to strikes by train conductors, teachers and hospital workers, but the revolt of the hidden voices of cinema has caused a whole new level of panic.

For historic and cultural reasons, dubbing is a deeply entrenched tradition. Far more than their French or German counterparts, Italians prefer to watch Jim Carrey or Harrison Ford while listening to their native language. If the strike continues, it will cost movie studios millions and millions of dollars. Television networks have even more money at risk.

For now, at least, the strikers appear unwilling to relent.

''The objective fact is that the work of dubbers has been horribly exploited,'' said Oreste Lionello, the suitably whiny Italian voice of Woody Allen (One of the most high-profile dubber in all of Italy, he died in 2009). ''They have kidnapped our vocal cords.''

In the United States, where fewer than 2 percent of movies are in foreign languages, a dubbers' strike would go unnoticed. In Italy, where over 75 percent of all new releases are imports, the sudden silence has all but paralyzed the television and movie industry.


Roberto Pedicini, another famous Italian voiceover artist, who has dubbed Cassel previously, noted that the dubbing tended to dramatically improve the popularity of foreign films in Italy.

"It would be nice to see every film in its original language. The problem is that we’d have to learn really diverse languages, given that the most awarded films at festivals are Asian or from the Middle East,” he told the Adnkronos news agency. “And subtitles are often misleading or compromised.”

Pedicini suggested Cassel should be grateful to Italy’s dub artists for helping to bring his film to a wider audience. “To make an Italian film appeal to the largest number of people, it has to be dubbed,” he said. “If it weren’t dubbed, the new film of Cassel would be seen by much fewer people.”

I am not going any further with this other than to say, as bizarre as it sounds, voice dubbing in Italy is the perfect Mafia point of infiltration... Meaning, this sector fits all the necessary requirements that would serve as a greenlight for the mob to move in. And take over Italy's film industry.


Going to Bonanno's Book
Joseph Bonanno noted in his autobiography that the Mafia’s underlying capitalist philosophy rested on a basic theory that guided him and other bosses: eliminate all competition by moving in on the weakest, yet most important link of the business.

“One must remember that in the economic sphere one of the objectives of a Family was to set up monopolies as far as it was possible,” he explained in A Man of Honor.

Selwyn Raab in Five Families noted:

In addition to the garment industry, the five Mafia families used strong-arm tactics and their influence in unions to control and obtain kickbacks from stevedore companies on the Brooklyn waterfront, the Fulton Fish Market, the wholesale meat and produce markets in Manhattan and Brooklyn, construction and trucking companies, and hotels and restaurants. 
The Sicilian-Italian gangs even forced out Jewish racketeers from their pioneering roles in the $50-million-a-year kosher chicken business. New York’s large Jewish population and its Orthodox dietary rules guaranteed a steady demand for the interrelated poultry industry. The Jewish hoods were content with simple, old-fashioned protection tactics. They engaged in small shake-downs of frightened and defenseless businessmen trying to keep their companies and their bodies intact. 

Tommy “Three-Finger Brown” Lucchese had his shooters push aside the Mafia's Jewish counterparts in what became the classic model for industrial racketeering -- they established a cartel among live-chicken suppliers, wholesalers, and slaughtering companies. By grabbing one piece of the industry, Lucchese was able to use it to leverage the entire sector and squeeze it like an orange.

His plan included the formation of a "trade group" --  the New York Live Poultry Chamber of Commerce. Then it was only a matter of knowing how and when to apply subtle intimidation and promises of profits, and he was able to force most kosher-chicken businesses to join his group, which fixed prices, ended competition and put a hefty piece of the action in his own pocket, while also making the vendors more money too. That's the key -- allowing the cartel members also to realize a higher profit margin.

The underlying factor that helped the mob grab entire industries was its ability to find the weakest link in the chain -- and control those laborers. It's as simple as that.

If the mob were to take over Italy's film industry, they wouldn't try to infiltrate the filmmakers -- they might control the theaters but that sector today is probably deeply fragmented and likely profit-starved. The Mafia could supply concessions. Or, another way to gain far more control -- over the entire industry, say -- based on what Cassel has told us -- might very well be to go after the dubbers.




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