There is so much symbolism couched in the attack on Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi yesterday that I do not know where to begin my analysis. The one word which keeps coming to my head is basta, Italian for “enough.” Clearly that is just what the Italian people have had.
Let us recap with actual footage of the attack:
There are only so many times one can hit the repeat button, but I just cannot get enough of this video because I am still in shock: Somebody actually hit Silvio Berlusconi. The Italian Prime Minister had become this larger than life figure mainly through his masterful manipulation of the Italian press and media, 90% of which he owns.
The Italian Prime Minister had cultivated an image of himself as an untouchable and unbeatable force. He not only runs his country, but he practically owns everything in it!
A few years ago when I still lived in Italy, Berlusconi was getting some new hair implants put in. The whole day, every single major Italian news channel ran the entire procedure. There was nothing else on TV. It was a testament to Berlusconi’s hold over Italy, whether she wanted it or not.
Yesterday, seeing him battered and bleeding on my television screen was like discovering the mortality of a supposedly immortal character in Greek mythology.
But it was only a matter of time before someone let Berlusconi know how people really feel about him. Of course attacking the Prime Minister with a metal statue of Milan’s Duomo is a tad bit dramatic, but we could not have expected anything less spectacular from the Italians!
We are talking about a man who is currently embroiled in a sex scandal involving prostitutes and cocaine dealing businessmen, an ongoing divorce with his wife of twenty-plus years, a criminal trial for corruption, and who has recently been accused of having ties to what else? The Italian mafia. Go figure.
I have often pondered what the Italians think of their leader. I always found the Italians to be a very proud people who take the concept of respect very seriously. They have taught the world about that concept. Though we all know better than to judge a population by their President or Prime Minister; however, the fact of the matter is, that figure, for better or for worse, represents their country on the international stage. Just look at the extent of the damage done to the global perception of Americans under George W. Bush.
I rest my case.
Despite the obvious security questions which naturally surface with the assault on Berlusconi, (who would have thought it would be so easy?!), the attack symbolizes something deeper: Italians have had enough.
For the past few years, but especially in recent months, Berlusconi’s reckless and pompous behavior have made a mockery of both Italy and the Italians.
Furthermore, his repulsive infatuation with women is so offensive and derogatory that it takes sexism to a whole new level, given it is being conducted by a head of state. Stacking his Parliament with attractive, but unqualified former beauty queens and actresses in countless and meaningless positions is an insult to women around the world. Berlusconi objectifies and exploits women with impunity. It is no wonder that earlier this month, thousands of Italians marched in the streets of Rome demanding he resign.
The era of Berlusconi has just received a massive blow. Silvio’s seemingly unbreakable image has been broken, and in the process the people of Italy have reclaimed their self-respect from their buffoon of a Prime Minister.
Watch the footage above. And feel free to hit repeat all you want.