Ever since the world began, the right in power offers great opportunities for satire. Is this also the case under the Meloni government? In 1994, at the time of the triumph of Silvio Berlusconi and Forza Italia in the political elections, Altan published a prophetic cartoon: two old men sitting on the bench with their berets sideways. “We have to see the fasces in government again,” says the first. The other replies: “Life is too long, here’s the drama.” Really long, one might say.
To measure the state of health of the satire we involved Stefano Disegni, a long-time satirical designer and author of TV programs, and Fabrizio Barca, once a critical voice of the Democratic Party, former Minister for Territorial Cohesion of the Monti government (today he has no political positions ), current coordinator of the Inequalities and Diversity Forum. The occasion: the six cartoons on the theme of inequalities signed by Disegni and completed with a joke from a supporter of the Forum, in favor of the fundraising campaign “Together for social and environmental justice” on the Produzioni dal Basso platform, published in the past weeks on L’Espresso, on the website and on the social channels of the Forum.
Stefano Disegni “Together for social and environmental justice”
The satirical artist, for 6 weeks, proposed a cartoon on the themes that the Inequalities Diversity Forum addresses in its research and action work, leaving all the donors of the campaign the possibility to fill in the empty comics with their own jokes. Here is the result
Barca, Drawings, what is the state of health of satire?
Stefano Drawings: «It’s a question that comes back cyclically. More than satire, however, I would speak of authors of satire. The throw that pulled out people like me, Vincino, Vauro, has not been repeated. This does not mean that today there are very high level figures such as Zerocalcare. But the point is another. This is a country where you can’t find a satire newspaper on the newsstands, from a cultural point of view it is serious. Today the stables have disappeared, in this sense satire is in crisis. But the authors resist, satire has existed since the time of Tito Maccio Plauto and will always exist. It is a spontaneous eruption ».
Fabrizio Barca: «I wonder if the absence of schools is another sign of the impoverishment of our country. But there is also another thing that I do not understand: there are moments in history in which authoritarianisms are compatible with satire, I am thinking of the Soviet Union of the seventies and eighties, in which there was an interesting, organized satire, in some ways. almost tolerated. Sometimes satire is tolerated by regimes as long as it does not go beyond certain limits, it is a relief. But I turn the question to Stefano: is that group of designers who tried their hand in defense of the Constitution in Bologna an exception? ».
Drawings: «I will be pessimistic, but I fear it is an exception. However, I ask myself another question: how much demand for satire is there in a sleeping country? A slice of Italy wants it, another cares happily ».
Could it be that politics, with its excesses, has overcome parody?
Drawings: «In fact, when Berlusconi says bullshit, one thinks: ‘How am I going to get over it?’ The capable author, on the other hand, also exploits to his own advantage the “self-satirizations” of the characters to bring out the masks in comedy. Indeed, there is nothing better than people who rant. On the Fatto Quotidiano I draw a strip entitled “Monsters & Co.”, in which I put together the five characters of the moment: the somewhat forced lady, the fascist with his arm tied because otherwise he gets up like Doctor Strangelove, Salvini who is always with his mobile phone in his hand, an elderly man a bit stoned and a religious fanatic who would like to take us back to the Middle Ages. This strip is having a lot of success, I didn’t expect it. It is not a problem if the politicians are comedians, quite the opposite. The trouble is when the character is opaque, Vincenzo Visco or Giulio Tremonti to understand us. I am waiting for Barca to hold some important position, he is very caricatured ».
Boat: “It’s an interesting point. The technicians who have dominated politics for a very long time are less attackable, I was very impressed by how little Draghi has been spun. Technicians say objective things, they are impervious to criticism, they cannot be ridiculed. It is another sign of the victory of neoliberalism over politics ».
Are politicians more offended today than in the past?
Drawings: «I don’t remember all these offended politicians. The politician has a kilo and a half of hair on his stomach, he has to do more with magistrates and carabinieri than with satirists. For most of them, the cartoon can be annoying, but then they don’t care, some consider it a medal. But the point is another: I work for a film magazine, show people take it much more than politicians. I have received the heaviest complaints from Giulio Tremonti and celebrities from the world of entertainment, because they work with the face ».
Boat: «The difficulty of affecting technicians through satire is probably linked to the fact that the workshops have disappeared. You were in politics, you Stefano are in politics even now, but you are doing it alone, there is no comparison with others just when it would be necessary. The characters who exercise power do so under a powerful shield of technology, there is no community capable of attacking them ».
Politically correct on the one hand, vulgarity, racism and gender-based violence on the other. How does satire juggle between these two extremes?
Boat: «We live in the age of the end of hypocrisy, which is an important brake of human nature. Hypocrisy means being aware that certain things should not be said. On women, on homosexuals, on migrants. Of course you think them, but the fact that you don’t tell them produces two results. First: you avoid saying horrendous things. Second: you offer yourself to satire. Who makes fun of you can scratch in the hidden sentence, in the statement in which you do not believe. It can bring out the contradiction ».
Drawings: «Uncovering hypocrisies should be one of the primary missions of satire. Personally, the concept of “politically correct” I hold on tight because I would not want to see the doors open wide to vulgarity, insults and satire of very low quality. Do I have to be able to call a black nigger because otherwise I’m politically correct? The most vulgar clichés pass in the name of free speech. At the other extreme, what I don’t accept about politically correct is that it becomes a pose, a nit-picking mania. A vowel that from “o” becomes “a” because it is necessary, but then the word sucks. Director instead of director seems to me a cacophony ».
It is said that it is not permissible to place limits on satire. Does it also apply to religious symbols?
Drawings: «I drew cardinals disguised as women, as transsexuals who call themselves Loretta and Donatella. I talked about pedophilia in the Church, attacked their economic power. Christ was born in a manger and they have billions in the Caymans. But I hesitate in front of the research that any individual carries out in the course of his existence. And I don’t feel like making fun of anyone: neither the Muslims, nor the Jews, nor the Christians, nor the atheists. I am not a believer, in some respects I consider myself a Christian. I don’t know if Christ existed, but I share certain values and, if they were applied, we would have fewer wars. If, on the other hand, religions produce power, money or murderous madness, it is necessary to hit hard because it is disrespectful for the dignity of man. We also see it in Iran ».
Boat: «The sacredness is untouchable, not necessarily the religious one. It is one thing to take for a ride, to show the contradictions of rich gentlemen, regardless of whether they are Jews, Catholics, Protestants. Another is to represent them with a hooked nose and to show behind the symbols of Judaism or perhaps of communism. There must be limits: if millions of people have a creed and choose a symbol, for example a crucifix, making fun of them is equivalent to insulting them “.
In an interview with Il Friday di Repubblica, Altan said that in the elections he voted for the Democratic Party because “he does not want to throw the vote”. Who did you vote for?
Drawings: «For Ilaria Cucchi, I voted for the Italian Left. She was part of a coalition that I wanted to support and then I wanted to support her as a person. If Barca was there, I voted for him ».
Boat: “I do as my father did after the dissolution of the Italian Communist Party, which never said who he voted for.”
One of the latest cartoons signed by Disegni has Giorgia Meloni as its protagonist. “Every morning Giorgia wakes up knowing that she will have to run to shut the rincojonito’s mouth”. “What arthro the fuck must have said, let them kill her!” She says. «Love, it’s five o’clock …» replies her partner. The subtitle is «Let’s resist, maybe they don’t last long». Will the new government stay in office for long?
Boat: «I liked that joke very much, I saw that very strange unconfessable sympathy for Meloni that many of us have. Maybe not you, Stefano ».
Drawings: «I grant you understanding, sympathy I have to work on it».
Boat: «Make an intimate operation without arming yourself with the armadillo, since you mentioned Zerocalcare. You do not have the armadillo but you are “armadillando” Meloni. On the other hand, your comment line does not convince me: being an incurable Communist veterinarian, against the worse the better, I hope they manage to govern. For a trivial reason: we have to see what they do, I fear that the fragility shown in the Senate gives rise not to a mature opposition, but to a “paciugo” of an irreconcilable center. And the country does not deserve this ».
Drawings: «I admit that that joke is more of a gut than a head. I’m not so optimistic that they don’t last long, I wrote it, but I have a question mark too ».
Boat: «It would take a left opposition …».
Drawings: “About what? I did not understand the word … Opposition of what? ».
Boat: “It would take a left-wing opposition, but it takes some time, given the moonlight.”