In the era of infallibility, the one in which if you recognize that you have made a mistake in something you are ready for the journey to Santiago in order to atone for the guilt of having recognized it publicly, admitting that something of the organizational machine of the Sanremo Festival 2021 did not work as it should is anything but obvious. Yet on the eve, despite the fiercest Internet commentators writing almost everywhere that this Sanremo should not have been done because it was disrespectful and inappropriate, we all believed it would be a success. We were told by last year’s numbers and the restrictive measures that prevent Italians from leaving the house after ten in the evening, giving up the famous “movida” which, more often than not, has been used as an alibi to justify the fact that people you don’t stay home to watch tv. Yet, despite everything, the decline in ratings in Sanremo 2021 is undeniable: the share falls and the number of spectators falls despite the closing in the middle of the night and a television audience which, as pointed out by the Courier service, it’s almost the same as a year ago, just over 6,000 heads to count.
From then on, the morning press conferences became a bit of a back and forth between organizers and journalists to admit that, yes, this edition of the Sanremo Festival cannot be compared to the others because the situation is completely exceptional, because there is no audience, because it aired in March instead of February (actually it had already happened in 2008 in the last Festival conducted by Pippo Baudo, but let’s not quibble), because there are matches, because the singers in the competition they are more indie than an Arci club, and because, as Amadeus himself pointed out on Thursday, “People are angry.” In our opinion, this is the real reason that transformed Sanremo from the event of the year to an en pessant program. From being Christmas day, Sanremo has become a weekday, daily, tame: if until last year Italy stopped to look at it, now Italy is firm in itself and can very well choose how to occupy its days wrapped in the fleece of fear and the prospect that the long-awaited restart is not really like that close. Let’s go, however, in order.
As much as you try to ignore it, it is this huge elephant in the room that does not make the spectators live peacefully. Let me be clear, it is not that in 2020 we did not have our problems on our minds, but this year is different, everything seems cold and colorless and it has nothing to do with the fact that Sanremo closes at 2 am and puts more stuff in the lineup. how much it can contain: it has to do with seeing Emma D’Aquino tell Tg1 that the daily infections for Covid-19 have risen to 22 thousand and a moment later to see Fiorello trapping on the notes of Thanks for the flowers it is something that causes some unconscious discomfort, as if we don’t really want to let ourselves go to the levity that psychiatrists tell us every day to pursue to preserve our sanity. Aldo Grasso on the Courier service he writes: “I can only assume that a year of pandemic has profoundly changed us, that the loss of taste is not just a material symptom, that we are getting used to a type of penitential life, devoid of any libido.” This is the premise from which we must start and that, in a certain sense, relieves both the conductor and artistic director Amadeus and the cast that accompanies him every evening from any responsibility, cast that with all their strength tries to convey from home that everything is as always, that Sanremo is always Sanremo. Then the camera frames the empty seats, the direction starts the recorded applause, the flowers arrive on a sanitized plexiglass trolley, and then you realize that it is not normal at all and that this edition will remain, willy-nilly, in history and in the memory of all of us.
There are those who have thought, however, to also analyze the content point of view to ask themselves if something did not work there too. Giorgia Iovane of TvBlog noted how the sudden detachments of the registers, those that a moment before give space to the testimony of Alex Schwazer and a moment later zoom in on Marcella Bella’s leonine hair, are among the main causes of a conspiracy of guilt, but the truth is that Sanremo has always been a cauldron of guests, promotions and monologues put there to fill the spaces between one song and another, to ensure the so-called entertainment that should please all those who Sanremo do not look at it for the songs, but for the scandal and the gossip. And this year there were many moments to comment on: from Elodie’s medley and Elodie’s own clothes to the freshness of a very promising actress like Matilda De Angelis; from the tears of Laura Pausini fresh from Golden Globe to the complicity between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Siniša Mihajlović. In short, “the meat”, as our grandmothers would say, is there. The flab is also alone Fiorello that one thinks and a hundred does and that, alone, manages to transform what could lead to gloom, from empty armchairs to trolleys for flowers, into starting points to create hilarious gags completely dictated by the profession. The show is there. Yes, maybe it could close a little earlier (we would give a penny to know what the singers forced to perform at 2 am think), but everything can be said except that entertainment is not guaranteed.
Here, let’s talk about the songs, the ones that should be the main dish of the Festival. It is since 2020 that Amadeus has made a precise choice: rejuvenate the proposals in the field and give space not only to young people, but also to sounds that are beginning to be at home in Sanremo only in the latest editions (before it was former talent boys who made the news, now it’s autotune). Someone pointed out that if only old glories like Orietta Berti – that, in a Festival in which Fulminacci, Willie Peyote, Coma_Cose and Madame compete, it is definitely the “indie share” since it is the only one to propose something very Sanremo in Sanremo that no longer exists -, the public would have appreciated, but are we really sure? It is a little funny that Amadeus is being reproached for having chosen young people who, in fact, have been making music for years and recording stream numbers. (which, in the end, are the thing that most interests record companies) that would make even the most honorable veterans shiver: we speak of Raiuno’s audience as a “bacucco” and parched public, but wouldn’t it be right to give it a chance and stop thinking of it as something that remained twenty years ago without the slightest capacity for progression? Are we really sure that, when Netflix or Prime Video commercials arrive during Sanremo, Raiuno’s audience is there to wonder if they are codenames sent by Moscow to intort us and steal money from us instead of streaming platforms? Getting rid of this idea might be a small step for the viewer, but a big step for the generalist.
Amadeus and Fiorello
Finally they: Amadeus and Fiorello, Ama and Ciuri, Amorino and Patato. After surviving unscathed from last year’s “step backwards”, they are still there to give themselves a hand and tell themselves that they will make it. They love each other, they support each other, they take back the empty theater as if theirs were an exercise in confidence with the surrounding space (it happened on the first evening, when Fiorello took Ama by the arm and took him there where the camera did not want to reach: to the empty red armchairs in the stalls) and they are there to remind us not only that true friendship exists, but also that commitment and dedication can do anything. Sanremo 2021 had to be done: it could not be postponed because it would have been a defeat for everyone and, in particular, for the languishing Rai coffers, and Amadeus and Fiorello said yes. They said yes when it would have been much more convenient to say no, pass the hot potato to someone else, and compliment each other for making the most sensible choice of their career. But no, Amadeus and Fiorello are still there doing probably the hardest thing in the world in the hardest festival in history: bringing a ship that is taking on water to the port and making sure that all passengers are safe not only from Covid, but also from anhedonia which is the worst thing we are all going through in this period. Whether we will come out better or worse has already been established, but at least let these two captains carry out the task and, if we can, let’s try not to harass them and not to give them up: they are two heroes and maybe, when all this will be finished, aware of the retroactivity of the judgments that is so fashionable nowadays, we will remember to make them a statue like Achille Lauro on the third evening.