Not long ago, in early February, a certain Antonio Signore, AKA Junior Cally, with the song "No thanks" (a political song) was admitted to the competition in Sanremo (the most important music festival in Italy). The boy had, however, a history of quite sexist songs.
He states: "They are just songs” and I even heard he said, "art is free: nobody should be censored."
But... aren’t they just full sentences, written as lyrics that praise - in no uncertain terms - feminicide?
"So evil cannot be represented? All the films with murders, then?" I was asked directly.
Such considerations prompted me to reorder my ideas.
I don't have here the space I had when, in my dissertation, I tackled the theme of storytelling and the power of storytelling, so I will only try to briefly answer three questions.
1. Can't you talk about evil in song lyrics?
Of course you can, but how you talk about evil is not irrelevant: on the contrary, it's what everything is based on.
The world of entertainment, cinema, books, and even music is full of stories in which evil is present. It is a reality that is part of our world, how could it not be part of our represented world?
Just think of the fairy tales we read to children from a very young age. My son loves the story of the mother and the seven little goats, in which a wolf tries to deceive these little ones by taking care of them while the mother is away. First he sweetens his voice with honey, then he smears white flour on his paw to convince the kids that he is their mother and gets them to open the door. He is so clever, and they are so naive, that in the end the wolf eats the little ones one by one.
Only the youngest of the seven manages to hide and save himself. He'll be the one to tell his mother what happened when she comes home. Together, they will manage to pull all the brothers out of the wolf's belly while he sleeps under a tree.
In this story - which I read every evening to my son who is not even three years old - there is evil: but it is not represented as good, nor is it represented as superior to good.
And that is the point. If Mr. Antonio Signore had written lyrics denouncing feminicide or had told the story of a woman who risked being killed and instead saved herself, I doubt there would have been dozens of petitions to exclude him from the competition. I doubt that the associations that fight to defend women from violence and abuse would have been outraged. The singer in question and anyone who behaves like him create scandal because not only do they not express the superiority of good over evil (anthropological necessity), but they describe evil as good, subverting the value scheme of the society in which they live.
Additionally there is the doubt that Mr. Antonio Signore treats such delicate issues in this way to attract visibility. He amuses himself, perhaps, by "scandalizing" those who listen to his music without risking anything. Would he have done the same thing in a society or a culture that had reacted with violence toward such "courageous" artists?
2. Should art remain free of censorship?
Freedom of expression is a right, of course, but it has limits. In a society based on mutual respect, it is not allowed - in the name of freedom - to offend and denigrate.
Respect for others is a higher value than the absolute freedom of the individual. If this were not the case, even the most reprehensible actions could really be justified in the name of freedom.
Now, if a singer laughs and jokes about the violence that many women suffer in reality, this is not true freedom - this is not art. This is violence conveyed by an alleged art.
And this is allowed in the name of an unjust freedom of expression, which here becomes tyrannical because it does not take into account the suffering and feelings of others.
Let us remember, moreover, that art has a responsibility: it has the power to educate or to deviate. The ancients understood this. The Greeks, for example, had the theatre, which was a context with a strong pedagogical relevance. The messages that were transmitted were carefully examined: if they did not conform with the values of the city, they were not allowed to be portrayed on stage because they could compromise the values of the young people. Yes, especially young people, who were not yet fully educated. They were fragile and in search of meaning and answers - still in that delicate phase of "self-building."
This concept was known more than two thousand years ago - even before the coming of Christ and the birth of the Church (often falsely believed to be the origin and culprit of all censorship). Can it not be kept in mind by the organizers of a festival watched by 10 million viewers on a public network like RAI?
3. Are they just songs, while the real problem is something else entirely?
There is no doubt that the world is full of problems to solve. And, of course, violence against women must be fought at every level, not only in the world of music (starting with education in the family, credible policies, targeted educational plans in schools or in the Church), but, forgive me for being radical: synergy is needed. We need to be united in this objective, also asking the arts to take sides in favor of this good cause.
We must not allow any Junior Cally to fight against the enormous progress that society is trying to make.
The indicted song - complete with video, which I did not have the courage nor the desire to see, but instead just read its lyrics - reached over five million views on Youtube.
Who did it reach? Emotionally stable people? Or fragile people? People who are already struggling with self-control? But above all, is there a need to praise violence? Maybe it won't increase the number of murders, but will it increase the sense of respect due to every person and every woman? Will it do any good? Will it make people think positively? If the answers to these questions are "no," why does Signore gain millions of views (and therefore millions of euros), speculating on the tragedies that affect so many women all over the world? Why should this man be invited to take the Ariston stage - a showcase so coveted by singers in Italy - and publicize his "music"?
It takes courage, of course, to say that not everything is allowed, in an age when videos about “natural families” are censored, but those who praise violence can sing without hesitation and get millions of views.
It takes courage, but the future of our children is at stake. And, for the most venal, in this case our money too: our money is funneled into the pockets of those at RAI (Italian State run television) who allow all of this.
You can't remain silent when a public broadcaster and Youtube's managers deliberately ignore that there's an something to gain from standing up for values at all levels, just because the trapper in question makes them money by exploiting the fragility of people looking for strong models to identify with (read more here: Trap Music: that's why young people like it so much).
We are committed to denouncing these inconsistencies and trying to keep a charitable heart with the hope that common sense will be reign victorious, sooner or later, over economic interests.