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LA STAMPA

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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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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