Sure, let’s celebrate Italian fascism on Twitter, why not

Looks like a great idea, surely most responses will be positive. You gotta tweet something right!?

So the Italian Marina Militare (the Navy) (yeah I mean, the Official Navy of the Italian state) posted a couple of tweets, such as this one (see pic) in which they celebrate WWII attacks to Greece.

Let’s set up some quick context.

Greece is a sovereign state if I’m not mistaken, and was such 80 years ago as well – just probably worth mentioning.

Greece were NEUTRAL, and Italy single-handedly attacked them.

Italy was a Fascist regime.

Italy ended up being soundly defeated on most battlefields, showing a lack of preparation which costed a lot to our German allies. And luckily so, some might say. A beautiful display. And on top of this, the way that little bit of history is studied at school is utterly ridiculous, it almost looks like we were invaded by the Fascists, and we were all partisans, and all that. Poor us.

So I just wanted to put this here, as a reminder for myself. When the conversation in the UK goes in the direction of ‘this country is not progressive enough’, and I will be tempted to see it that way, I will want to have this, here, to remind myself of where it is that I come from. That shameful bug, I want it to be there always.

-isms, part 1: the ‘whoever your favourite human being is’ paradox

There’s been some (but not enough) talking in Italy, in the last week, because not one, not two, but three different shows on national television (Rai) were based on the trope ‘sexual assault that was faked by the victim’. Many associations complained, but the conversation never really broke through to the really ‘decisional’ areas of politics (say, the parliament, or any of the major parties). But it’s always the woman’s fault isn’t it. She was wearing a tight skirt, is the point. She was drunk, is relevant.

One of the reasons why I left the country in the first place is the somewhat backward culture when it comes to inclusion: diversity is still not seen as a resource. Of course, I reckon that the cultural and historical factors change immensely between English-speaking countries, and Italy. I mean, we did try colonialism in the last century, but slavery was a major factor only millennia ago (this might be superficial, I reckon, if we consider the internal slavery systems present in Capitalism, which rely on enslaving based on class, rather than other -isms. However, this is not a topic I’d wish to explore now). This could probably be a reason why the convo re: skin colour is not really felt in Italy: we are indeed prone to evaluate one’s worth from the colour of their skin, but that’s not even the real problem-the real problem is that we barely talk about it. Blackface is not really a thing, in Italy-we don’t see the problem with it. I did not myself. It’s much more heartfelt here, for historical reasons. Don’t get me wrong, racism indeed exists in the UK, but it’s fiercely contrasted by the media, for instance. It’s part of the conversation. People of all walks of life supposedly are allowed any jobs. It’s not the same in my hometown.

The same goes for sexism: I can see sexism here, and I could see it back in Italy too. The difference is, over there it’s not even part of the conversation. The numbers are incredible, like everywhere else for that matter: 21% of women have been harrassed in some form *. Like, I’ve had 5 girlfriends in my lifetime, at least one of them has been harrassed sooner of later: quite cringy uh.

So I thought I’d start writing something about the topic. As ever, this is more to track moments in time, for myself, than for an actual audience.

My starting point about all -isms is what I call the Leonardo da Vinci Paradox (or the ‘[insert your favourite incredible human being here] paradox’, whatever): Leonardo lived during the Renaissance, let’s say around 1,500. In that period, the access to advanced studies, a meal to go back home to so that you didn’t have to gather or hunt it yourself, freedom, rights, contacts, and what we now consider basic privileges, were only granted if you were:

  • Man
  • Cristian
  • European
  • White
  • Adult
  • Cis
  • Hetero
  • Landowner/rich
  • I might be forgetting points but you get the gist

This would ridiculously diminish the possibility of someone finding themselves in the condition to skill up so much that they’d paint the Ultima cena, or anticipate flying objects by centuries, or advance anatomical knowledge, etc. Now let’s assume that there are as many women as there are men, in the world (it’s actually more than that). Let’s say 50/50%. Were women allowed the same life as men, we’d have had not one but TWO Leonardo’s; TWO Einstein’s; TWO Newton’s; TWO Laplace’s. Can you imagine where we humans would be in that scenario?

And what if we also included non-white people? LGBTQ+? What if we did not value one religion as a necessity to study at our schools (and this is still the case in many countries, including Italy, including the kindergartens (!!))?

So this is to say: the idea that women having more rights will hurt men, is laughable: not only will it not hurt men, but it’ll be actually beneficial. Working towards respecting other people no matter what, is more important than we realise.

Imagine the wonderful things we could do, if we could all study, and travel, and work, and do with our bodies as we please.

BTW, if you know the Italian language, or are learning it, Il Post is THE ONE AND ONLY online resource you should read: many mainstream newspapers are bog roll at best

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On award-winning awards, and award-organising companies awarding award-winning companies.

I have been in award-winning teams before, and having now been behind the scenes in another team that is, currently, in the shortlist for more European awards (these) is naturally a pleasure. It tickles one’s ego, of course, so on one hand I subjectively appreciate it; on the other, I want to be as unbiased and objective as a person can be. Hence, I want to publish these thoughts before knowing whether the team will actually win or not. Because if they do win, I’ll of course be happy and proud of them 😊

Thought number 1: marketers rubbing their own backs

So first of all, because this might not be clear to everybody: applications to awards cost money. Not all, admittedly: those that I know, therefore considering the Digital Marketing industry only – although I’m sure it’s the same across the board. So if your campaign is better than mine, but for whatever reason you do not submit it, (crucially including you want to, but have no money to apply), I will be awarded and you won’t. So if I am a big company, or a cheeky one, I’ll simply apply to hundreds of awards a year, and will end up winning a couple for mere statistical reasons. I am already a large, rich agency, and winning awards will make me larger and richer, and…you see, an upward spiral that looks very much pumped by who’s got more money to begin with: capitalism 101.

On top of that, there are A LOT of awards: each call themselves prestigious, and each are pushed by those who win it (the award that I won is the most prestigious!). So how prestigious is an award, really? I’ve had instances (won’t name names) in which you could at the same time run for the award, and sponsor it: how is this OK? Oh an how about those that are organised by companies that are somehow siblings to other companies that can take part to the race?

And we do like to comment how good we are, how our team is the best, how we love our clients. “What’s my Unique selling proposition (USP)? I’m not only an agency for my client, I’m more of a consultant! Dare I say it: a friend!”. Isn’t this the SP (not very U, at this point) of a thousand Digital Agencies out there?

Self promotion is important indeed: nevertheless I often find it extenuating, frustrating, is all. Especially when I know is false: a company I worked for in the past, a toxic environment where I was miserable and harrassed and all that, is co-ho-honstantly posting on Social Media about how good they are. It’s was hell, and the thing is, they most definitely knew. What you’ve got to do is, you always have to be true.

Thought number 2: an award is an effect

This is more boring, more personal, probably more relevant to me than the first one. It’s got to do with causality.

Generally speaking, I like to think about causes, not effects: if you modify the cause, it’ll trickle down to the effect too (teach a person how to fish, rather than giving them a fish). So if I play my best football, but still lose, I can still be happy, since victory was an effect.

Now, there’s several things that can intervene in obtaining a certain effect: on some one can work, improve, actively make better, and on others one cannot. You can train harder, but you cannot control your shoelaces breaking off minutes before the game. The stoic will say that one should only be concerned with those things that one can control. You just train as hard as you can, and vet the status of your equipment as best you can, and that’s it; if it breaks, it breaks.

An award is an effect, not a cause. The cause that you can control towards winning an award is, doing a high-quality job. And since quality is a relative concept, let’s simplify the idea: you just do your best, at all times. Is that enough to win an award? No, it’s not: there’s the whole thing I described in point 1, there’s chaos (or call it luck), there’s your competitor, a lot of stuff outside of your control. A judge is more likely to be benevolent with entries that they read after lunch, than before lunch (as they’ll be in a better mood): if that’s the level of variability one has to deal with, one cannot possibly think they can assess everything.

Hence, is it really how many awards your team brings home, that you should evaluate them for, or is it the effort that you witness day in, day out?

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