by Claudia Ruvinetti

Two very different phenomena but with a common thread have dominated the Italian public debate over the past month. The advertisement of the well-known supermarkets Esselunga has invaded social and television discourse, triggering a domino effect of reflections or simple comments from pundits, politicians, and ordinary citizens. Briefly, the incriminated commercial consists of a scenario in which a little girl gives a peach purchased with her mother in the well-known supermarket chain, then gives it to her father pretending that it is from his ex-wife's side. We do not even know whether the couple is separated temporarily or permanently, there are no explicit references to facts or comments, the commercial is dominated only by a few frames of spontaneous and naive attempts at family "mediation." The thirty seconds just described were not short enough to prevent the torrent of negative and dietrological comments, summed up essentially by the idea that the commercial was intended to blame separated couples or even (!) question the legal institution of divorce.

The second event that stirred the political (but above all the people's) spirits was the separation of Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni from her historical partner, father of her daughter Ginevra and Mediaset journalist; an event that temporally followed the off-air published by Striscia la notizia, in which Andrea Giambruno was filmed joking in a very extroverted manner with female colleagues.

In this case, a private issue - an adult couple separating, among other things in a tumultuous manner and questionably hurting the sensibilities of one of the sides - was being used to denigrate cultural battles over the so-called traditional family, which then is nothing more than the legal protection and ideal protection of the stable union of a heterosexual couple with children, not the exaltation of the perfection of marital relations, which, as human, are corruptible, nor the attempt to give a religious valence to the concept of fidelity or sin.

"I do not fear the peach itself, I fear the peach in me."

Geneva psychologist Jean Piaget defined egocentrism as the natural tendency of children to assume their own point of view as the only possible one. The great Swiss scientist engaged in elegant experiments with dolls and teaching materials to construct the stages of cognitive development from infancy to adulthood. It is not of interest here to dwell on the specifics of this author, as much as to take a cue from him to describe an obvious trait of our time: the ego that folds in on itself, a childish citizenry that sees every phenomenon - in this case every cultural and symbolic product - as referring to itself and only to itself, a people of adults with little capacity for abstraction, perpetually folded in on themselves, in the maniacal defense of preventing the outside from placing us outside our view, bringing us back every now and then to come to terms with our existence.

The quote "I do not fear Berlusconi per se, I fear Belusconi in me" has been mistakenly attributed to Giorgio Gaber, actually belonging to singer-songwriter Gian Piero Allosio. The peach is not scary in itself, but in that it represents the guilt that the adult now wants to avoid being able to feel, hidden as he is in his primitive cocoon of individualism.

In the case of the quote about Silvio Berlusconi, the Cavaliere did not "frighten" just as a political action - by the way, ironically he represents what the well-meaning now think of as the moderate right but back then it was extremism that was advancing - rather, citizens had to come to terms for the first time with populism, with the easygoing leaders who do not speak starchy, who love women and truthfulness, in one definition, as brilliantly said in a video on the Progetto razzia channel, Berlusconi was "the arch-Italian."

"L'Italia a testa alta": il discorso programmatico di Giorgia Meloni
Is divorce still painful?

Divorces are now so common that they have become predictable, normalized by their frequency and the cultural context that has changed over the years; however, the fact that an event is common, in technical psychological jargon "almost normative," does not mean that it does not bring with it a trail of pain and travail, like all conflict situations, especially for the offspring. Family mediation, a process of meeting between former spouses, in which the aim is not necessarily to recompose the marital bond, but rather to make relationships less aggressive and destructive, avoiding what Cigoli, Galimberti and Mombelli (1988) call a "despairing bond," a relationship where the other is considered an evil, to whom all blame, including personal blame, must be attributed; and it is precisely in this logic that the desire to destroy him or her is fed.

On the other hand, it is ironic - as Emanuele Mastrangelo also points out on this blog - that an age cloaked in one-sided do-goodism, rainbows hashtags and rejection of violence, does not grasp the humanity of a child attempting parental reconciliation, rooting for perennial conflict. Despite the impossibility of real marriage mending, children often have fantasies of reconciliation, so if even a gift peach cannot resolve a relationship, one can hope for the magic of a gift. There are two kinds of madness after all, the destructive and hate-filled kind and the sweetest error of illusions.

Abstract thinking

Also the Geneva psychologist Piaget argued that during adolescence, children reach the stage of formal thinking, learning to reason about values, assumptions and symbols, thus detaching themselves from the concrete plane alone. Values in general are not empirical concepts; they help us follow behaviors but do not sum up exactly with them. A man and a woman may have divorced because they no longer get along but at the same time be aware of the potential and real suffering this brings, reflect on it and try to come to terms with it. The plane of art and the media industry - aside from the distinctly regimented and didactic one, which was created for the sole purpose of imparting a message - is a world of suggestions and expressive techniques, which often transcend the moral or moralizing plane.

For example, how much even if we are not of progressive views, we would hardly fail to see the musical greatness of a song like Fabrizio De André's "Andrea," equally if we love Céline's "Journey to the End of the Night," we would not necessarily be violent in real life. The purpose of artistic productions - in this case it is a spot, so there are also legitimately commercial intentions - is to transfigure reality into moments, into fragments of emotions. No, the Esselunga advertisement is not about you as an individual and your divorce, it is about THE divorce, it photographs a moment in which we can change the channel, or get emotional, remind ourselves that we are adults and responsible for our actions so that tomorrow we can continue to make mistakes, less, better, maybe not anymore.

[photo: Oregon Department of Agricolture CC 3.0 SA by NC]
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A graduate in Psychology, a political activist, she cultivates in parallel a passion for the topics of political communication, the relationship between the sexes and military history.