I can understand Paglia's objections to the perpetuation of the streotype. Italians certainly have no corner on the market when it comes to the entertainment industry portraying a particular ethnic group or race via unflattering stereotypes. I've only seen nine episodes of the Sopranos so far, but in one of the last ones - either episode 8 or 9 of season one - the lead character is invited to a country club with some wonder-bread-white folks (see, there's a stereotype for everyone) where he gets treated like a real "goomba." He later recalls to someone how he and his friends, as kids, mistreated another kid with a cleft palate & speech impediment. He goes on to say that after the golf outing he now had some idea how that kid must have felt when they teased him. I haven't really captured the entire feeling of that episode, but it made a point to mention that even at its peak the "mafia" only consisted of maybe 5000 people in the U.S., and there are about 20 million Italian-Americans, so I think the show was trying to give the viewers a proper sense of perspective.
I'm secure enough with my own personal history and my Italian heritage to appreciate the show for what it is - great entertainment. In addition to the arguably negative ethnic stereotypes there's also some perfectly portrayed stereotypes of family relationships, some dysfunctional and some truly touching (and many that are both), that would strike a chord with anyone of any nationality or race.