>Be Italian? What Does That Even Mean?
>For some reason the movie “Nine” depressed me more than any other movie about Italy made by non-Italians. At first I wasn’t sure exactly what was bothering me. The song says, “Be Italian”. Could the lyrics be more uninspired? These embarrassing instructions for how to be “be” Italian only reinforce a ridiculous cliche and put real Italians on the spot.
I’ve always had the feeling that one of the things holding back Italians, culturally and artistically, were the expectations of the rest of the world. It scares me, thinking of Tuscany in particular, the idea that foreigners aren’t going to be happy until it’s one big Disneyland and every real shop or business has become a Murano Glass gift shop. What do we want from Italians? Do we want them to be something they aren’t anymore just to entertain us? Should they wear peasant skirts, dance the tarantella, and crush grapes with their feet for us? Should men feel obligated to pinch our asses to complete our vacation experience? It would be like if visitors to American were disappointed if we weren’t all cowboys.
We have to let Italy move on – especially with movies. Saverio Costanzo, director of In Memory of Me, blames the Italian directors of the past. “They consumed Italy, by portraying it in such an absolute, timeless way. With all these phantoms from the past, it’s very hard to understand our way. Because if you see La Dolce Vita or [Antonioni’s] L’Avventura today, Italy hasn’t changed so much. And I sometimes have the feeling that nobody cares what Italy is now”.
I have that feeling too. I love Italy – I love what it is today, right now. I embrace the new wave of Italian directors and I encourage everyone to do the same.