The consciousness of Zero

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This article is published in issue 48 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until November 30, 2021

You are black belt of how he dodges life », says the Armadillo to Zero, the protagonist of Tear off along the edges, the tv series of Zerocalcare on Netflix which is thrilling half of Italy. The Armadillo is Zero’s conscience, he criticizes him, torments him, he doesn’t let him through anything, but he is never petulant, on the contrary he appears resigned to his apparent inability to live.

He teases him, but doesn’t expect him to change. Many now know the world of Zerocalcare and know what “the assumption” is (responsibility, commitment, annoyance of the other’s expectations) because they have read his comics or seen animated shorts. Rebibbia Quarantine which were passed on to Propaganda Live during the first lockdown. If not, know that even if it doesn’t seem like it – because Zero speaks only Roman and lives in the Rebibbia district – his is a world that concerns all of us messed up, insecure and self-centered contemporaries, as was the inner world of Zeno Cosini of Italo Svevo one hundred years ago. Theirs, ours, is the flow of inner consciousness of those who in relationships with others, apart from a few relatives and close friends, never feel at ease, who live on escapes, control, guilt and hypersensitivity. The main difference between Zero and Zeno would seem the relationship with women: Zero is shy, terrified of rejection and responsibility, while Zeno has a wife, a lover and undresses all the women he meets with his eyes.

For the rest Zero and Zeno have the same insecurities which, depending on how you look at them, are also rebellious: feeling guilty for all the problems in the world, as her friend Sara says to Zero, all in all is self-centered with delusions of omnipotence. Tear off along the edges it makes you laugh, cry and feel less alone like a Disney cartoon, because today almost everyone, like Zero, fears that sensitivity is a burden, and they live in terror of taking over or being taken over. Some even feel guilty about it.

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