Coronavirus

Lockdown All'Italiana: Trying To Find Comedy In COVID-19

Our Italian columnist has a chuckle at those wagging their social media fingers at the new movie that pokes fun at quarantine life.

Social media users weren’t happy about the movie
Social media users weren’t happy about the movie
Mattia Feltri

-Essay-

ROME — It's funny, if you think about it. Nothing's made me laugh recently quite as much as the uproar against director Enrico Vanzina's new comedy about the lockdown. The film production company announced that on October 15, it will release Vanzina's new movie: Lockdown all'italiana, a frivolous, self-commiserating laugh about Italians and the coronavirus.

Social media users weren't happy. Aren't you ashamed? one asked. Another wagged their virtual finger, posting photos of struggling health professionals and of army trucks taking coffins away from the city of Bergamo back in April when the crematoriums were overwhelmed. You don't laugh at a tragedy of 35,000 deaths, online critics have been writing with a profusion of exclamation marks.

No tragedy, no comedy.

And to me, sorry for my impropriety, it makes me laugh. It makes me laugh just like Charlie Chaplin did when he wore a certain little moustache in The Great Dictator. It makes me laugh the way Mel Brooks does in his scenes about Jews, and like Mario Monicelli's The Great War. It makes me laugh like Sturmtruppen, the Italian comic book that detailed the misadventures of a caricatured version of the Nazi troops; like Robert Altman's M*A*S*H, about the carnage in Korea; or like Fantozzi, the Italian comedy cult character, who deserts the Japanese army only to find refuge in a sleepy countryside town — Hiroshima.

Lockdown all'italiana, is a frivolous, self-commiserating laugh about Italians and the coronavirus — Photo: Playhitmusic/Twitter

Ah but no, you just don't laugh at tragedies! When did we ever laugh at tragedies? Well, I don't know: I just laugh. I laugh with that one-eyed general who was looking at the battle from the top of a hill and a mortar splinter hit him in his good eye, and the general greeted the attendants: gentlemen, goodnight!

But no, damn it, you just don't laugh at tragedies ... not even about your own tragedies! This itself is one of the most tragic affirmations in human history and, sorry, when I hear it, I can't help but laugh again.

If you have no tragedy, you have no comedy, said someone who was obviously a madman — he was convinced that the true tragedy is those who cannot laugh at tragedies. They are, of course, already a comedy in the making.

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Geopolitics

"The Truest Hypocrisy" - The Russia-NATO Clash Seen From Moscow

Russia has decided to cut off relations with the Western military alliance. But Moscow says it was NATO who really wanted the break based on its own internal rationale.

NATO chief Stoltenberg and Russian Foregin Minister Lavrov

Russian Foreign Ministry/TASS via ZUMA
Pavel Tarasenko and Sergei Strokan

MOSCOW — The Russian Foreign Ministry's announcement that the country's permanent representation to NATO would be shut down for an indefinite period is a major development. But from Moscow's viewpoint, there was little alternative.

These measures were taken in response to the decision of NATO on Oct. 6 to cut the number of personnel allowed in the Russian mission to the Western alliance by half. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the removal of accreditations was from eight employees of the Russian mission to NATO who were identified as undeclared employees of Russian intelligence." We have seen an increase in Russian malicious activity for some time now," Stoltenberg said.


The Russian Foreign Ministry called NATO's expulsion of Russian personnel a "ridiculous stunt," and Stoltenberg's words "the truest hypocrisy."

In announcing the complete shutdown in diplomacy between Moscow and NATO, the Russian Foreign Ministry added: "The 'Russian threat' is being hyped in strengthen the alliance's internal unity and create the appearance of its 'relevance' in modern geopolitical conditions."

The number of Russian diplomatic missions in Brussels has been reduced twice unilaterally by NATO in 2015 and 2018 - after the alliance's decision of April 1, 2014 to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between Russia and NATO in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea. Diplomats' access to the alliance headquarters and communications with its international secretariat was restricted, military contacts have frozen.

Yet the new closure of all diplomatic contacts is a perilous new low. Kommersant sources said that the changes will affect the military liaison mission of the North Atlantic alliance in Moscow, aimed at promoting the expansion of the dialogue between Russia and NATO. However, in recent years there has been no de facto cooperation. And now, as Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has announced, the activities of the military liaison mission will be suspended. The accreditation of its personnel will be canceled on November 1.

NATO told RIA Novosti news service on Monday that it regretted Moscow's move. Meanwhile, among Western countries, Germany was the first to respond. "It would complicate the already difficult situation in which we are now and prolong the "ice age," German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas told reporters.

"Lavrov said on Monday, commenting on the present and future of relations between Moscow and the North Atlantic Alliance, "If this is the case, then we see no great need to continue pretending that any changes will be possible in the foreseeable future because NATO has already announced that such changes are impossible.

The suspension of activities of the Russian Permanent Mission to NATO, as well as the military liaison and information mission in Russia, means that Moscow and Brussels have decided to "draw a final line under the partnership relations of previous decades," explained Andrei Kortunov, director-general of the Russian Council on Foreign Affairs, "These relations began to form in the 1990s, opening channels for cooperation between the sides … but they have continued to steadily deteriorate over recent years."

Kortunov believes the current rupture was promoted by Brussels. "A new strategy for NATO is being prepared, which will be adopted at the next summit of the alliance, and the previous partnership with Russia does not fit into its concept anymore."

The existence and expansion of NATO after the end of the Cold War was the main reason for the destruction of the whole complex of relations between Russia and the West. Today, Russia is paying particular attention to marking red lines related to the further steps of Ukraine's integration into NATO. Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov previously stated this, warning that in response to the alliance's activity in the Ukrainian direction, Moscow would take "active steps" to ensure its security.

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