Sanremo 2021 and the narration of disabilities

Let me first say that I’m not a huge fan of Sanremo Festival, or of variety shows in general. Nevertheless, today I’m talking about it since this year it also talked about disability, during one of its nights, with two “themed” interventions: the monologue by the actress Antonella Ferrari and the little show between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Donato Grande, bomber of the Italian national power-chair football team. Two very different moments, both for their “format” and for their style: on one hand, Antonella Ferrari’s mologue, focused on her disease (multiple sclerosis)  and on the narration of her path to the right diagnosis; on the other hand, the “duet” between the A.C. Milan champion and his “sitting” colleague, with a few passage of the ball in favor of cameras. But, in both cases, watching the videos, I’ve found some “dissonances”, more or less evident. Let’s analyze them more in detail, to understand what I mean.

Antonella Ferrari a Sanremo 2021

Antonella Ferrari presented herself on Sanremo’s stage wearing a very elegant red dress, with a short, very engaging monologue narrating her path to the diagnosis and, then, her happiness, when she, finally, had not to “hide herself” anymore (did she feel ashamed? Was she afraid of what others might think? We don’t know), reaching the climax at the end: “My disease hasn’t to be the main character. I’m not my multiple sclerosi: I’m an actress, I’m Antonella Ferrari”. That’s true and totally right. But, then, why did she focus her monologue exclusively on that topic?Of course she wanted to raise awareness towards it. But are we sure that it has been the message that reached the viewers? Judging by the comments I read on social media the day after, I don’t think so: they were totally positive, praising her courage, her “example” and so on with the same old rhetoric surrounding who lives with a disability.

Donato Grande a Sanremo 2021

But that’s still “nothing” compared with what we saw when it was the turn of Donato Grassi, with Amadeus and Zlatan Ibrahimovic: he wearing casually (jeans and his football shirt), in the middle of the other two men in evening clothes (as that occasion would have required); a situation that, on the whole, seemed more an interaction among two adults and a kid (obviously, the kid was intended to be the man with a disability…) rather than among three adult men and the feeling that, rather than a tribute to Donato and his sport ability, it was a way to highlight his much more famous colleague. Not to mention Amadeus who had started, all in all, well, but then slipped in many occasions: from talking about the rights of those “suffering from disability“(it is a condition, not a disease…), to “handicapped“, to the paternalistic lecture to those who, using the parking lots reserved to disabled people, cause troubles to those who would be entitled to use them (his original words were “slightly” different…). In short, again the same old rhetoric…

How can it be possible that, in 2021, we are still unable to show and talk about disabilities avoiding the dualism among “superheroes” and “poor fellows”? Yet, it would be so easy… You’d just have to remember that beind different is absolutely normal, there’s no need to use childish language and attitude: respect for people is enough, in short.

Will we make it? I hope so,  despite all.”Perché Sanremo è Sanremo“…

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