Where does guido come from?
While a popular male given name in Italy for centuries, Guido began being used as a slang term to refer to immigrants who had just come to America from Italy sometime in the 20th century. The usage spread, however, in large part to media representations of Italian Americans, using the common name as a stereotype for an Italian-American everyman (à la Jack, John, or Joe).
John Travolta’s depiction of Italian-American men in 1977’s Saturday Night Fever helped popularize the guido persona in the media. While his character was not named Guido, he established the guido look and lifestyle: slicked-back hair, showy gold jewelry, and a suit, aspiring to glamour and power in New York City as he lives a humble, working-class existence in New Jersey.
In the 1980s, two other characters in media emerged who were called Guido and portrayed Italian-American stereotypes: Joe Pantoliano played a pimp, Guido, in 1983’s Risky Business and comedian Don Novello took his Italian priest parody, Father Guido Sarducci, to Saturday Night Live in the 1970–80s. The popularity of Italian-American mob films in the 1970–90s (e.g., The Godfather, Goodfellas) added a gangster image to the guido figure.
In 2009, MTV’s Jersey Shore, a show chronicling the lives of several people living in New Jersey, brought guido into further prominence—along with its feminine counterpart, guidette. Many criticized the depiction of Italian-Americans as guido/guidette stereotypes, while others, including those on the show, reclaimed its usage to celebrate their Italian-American heritage, culture, and lifestyle.
Who uses guido?
Guido is especially used of Italian-Americans living in New Jersey or New York City. Different cities may have their own name for guido; for example, Mario is used with the same meaning to refer to working-class Italians in Chicago, Illinois.
When used as a slur, it stereotypes overtly masculine men, usually of Italian-American descent and living on the East Coast, who wear skin-tight shirts over muscular bodies and fake-tanned skin. The subtext in the offensive term is that these men think they are sophisticated and important when they are actually perceived as ridiculous, dumb, and low-class.
Some people, especially Italian-Americans on the East Coast, embrace the term, however, celebrating their guido style, guido culture, or guido pride. They also self-identify as a guido or guidette.
My ideal man would be Italian, dark, muscles, juice-head, guido.
Nicole "Snooki" LaValle, Jersey Shore, December, 2009
When a guido knows more about Climate Change and Global Warming than our president lmao
@SouthernLifeTN, December, 2017
The term [little girl/little boy] can be "sort of derogatory," Ms. Ngo said, like an Asian-Australian parallel to the "guido" and "guidette" personas for Italian-Americans popularized by the television show "Jersey Shore.”
Isabella Kwai, The New York Times, June, 2017