Loro, the movie. Money for nothing and chicks for free. The immoral majority’s and Berlusconi’s philosophy

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Loro 1, Loro 2, regia Paolo Sorrentino, 2018

“What did you expect: to be the richest man in the country, become prime minister and be madly loved by everyone too?”

“Yes, that’s exactly what I expected.”


I approached this two instalment movie with a certain apprehension. In Il Divo (2008), Sorrentino portrayed Giulio Andreotti with abundant human sympathy and, in so doing, the corrupt and mafia-linked Christian Democrats’ absolute leader became a solitary hero while his political ruthlessness was left behind. “Loro is neither pro- or anti-Berlusconi,” Sorrentino said. “It is instead a tender look at the weaknesses of an old man.” That is exactly why I approached the movie with awe. The film in itself is not a masterpiece and is directed in Sorrentino’s classic style taken a bit too far, see for example the involuntary hilarious use of alternate montage. Loro, as the title states, is both about Berlusconi and the so-called ‘immoral majority’, the worst Italians: the film is mostly an account of the sordid, power-hungry personalities who orbited around the billionaire asThe Guardian‘s review says. Steamy sex, exotic dancers, cocaine sniffing and raucous poolside parties – the life and times of Italy’s scandal-tainted former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi is indeed the main aspect of Loro 1. Overall, the squalid world of these social climbers – whores, escorts, pimps, politicians, blackmailers and so on – fighting to get to know the boss, a God-like figure who can change their lives, is a mighty tragic picture, a cheaper, bittersweet version of La Dolce Vita: a world obsessed with celebrity and sexuality, to the exclusion of all moral values (see full quote below). Following The Great Gatsby‘s narrative technique, Berlusconi steps into the story towards the end of the first instalment. In Loro 2, instead, il Cavaliere is the protagonist, ‘prisoner’ in the golden cage of his sumptuous villa in Sardinia where everybody looking for something goes, a kind of modern pilgrimage, begging for money, power, indulgences. Veronica Lario becomes the improbable mouthpiece of the ‘moral minority’, pointing out all Berlusconi’s nasty attitudes, behaviour and crimes. Through her words and her husband’s practices and speeches, all the ugly sides of il Cavaliere are pointed out, and a kind of poetic political justice is done at the end of the movie. Giovanni Robertini, Rolling Stone Italia, wrote it is “a porn film without a moral issue”: let’s say that the lack of any moral issue in the characters is the moral issue of the film.

At 2017 Cannes film festival, Sorrentino said he planned to “make a film about the Italians … Berlusconi is the archetype of ‘Italianness’ and through him I can tell the Italians’ story.” In my way, I tried to sum up and explain some of the worst aspects of the Italians in my book about Berlusconi, an attempt to clarify why Italy is a nation of great genius and creativity and at the same time has rotten politics, no civic sense and a malfunctioning society. Hereafter are some extracts about the ‘immoral majority`, with reference to Italian cinema and the devastating effects of Mediaset television on the italian psyche.

We, the Italians, the majority of the Italians with the exceptions of the ‘moral minority’, have always been at least suspicious about the State. We had centuries of foreign domination, before the Risorgimento in the XIX century, in which state officials were ‘enemies’. We have never developed a civic awareness, a sense of community, of belonging to some common ground. We are a nation of immaculate homes and dirty streets. We have always seen taxpaying as acts of ‘coglioneria’ [crap, a load of balls] and tax evasion as actions of heroic resistance to public unfair burdens. We are a country in which politicians themselves advocate tax evasion in order to get consent, headed by B. who has practiced this national sport in such a brilliant way. Recommendations have always been an everyday form of survival. We have endless metaphorical expression on these attitudes: fatta la legge trovato l’inganno [the law is made, the con is found], ‘cca nisciuno è fesso [nobody is dumb around here], a Neapolitan motto used by the great movie comedian Totò. Our national mentality is in those old movies, in every classic ‘commedia all’italiana’, with its characters portraying the meanness of the average Italian played by iconic actor Alberto Sordi, the con-man tough to the weak and humble to the powerful. In recent years, actor director Nanni Moretti has revised the ‘commedia’ with his witty hilarious films about our Berlusconian society. B.’s nickname il Caimano comes from his 2006 movie, a surrealistic portrait of il Cavaliere.


“But more than just painfully partial towards its boss, Mediaset television has achieved something even more disguised. It has seduced a society to the extent that politics and ideas don’t seem to exist. Italy’ s noble visual culture has been reduced to endless erotica, and the small screen is now a cheaper, bittersweet version of La Dolce Vita: a world obsessed with celebrity and sexuality, to the exclusion of all moral values (Fellini, not surprisingly, for years objected to his film being shown on television). In many ways, the real problem with Mediaset isn’t that it is political in the purest sense; it’s that it’s not political at all. The only thing on offer are bosoms, football and money.”


Bosoms, football and money – the quotation is from The Dark Side of Italy by Tobias Jones – are indeed what the ‘immoral majority’ of the Italians want. The gut feelings they have, la pancia as we call it, the ethic values upon which these people’s lifestyle rests, are what B.’s networks sanctify. Easy sex, sport obsession, appearance, shortcuts to success, selfish attitude, menefreghismo (‘I don’t carism’, ‘each-to-his-own mentality’), trasfomismo, the breaking of any rules for personal purposes and, above all, obsession for wealth, a mania that matches the British care for class: these moral disvalues have been implanted into the Italian psyche like a pandemic with no antidote. Wealth is a person’s worth, the issue people are judged from, boasting about money is as important as showing off sexual conquests, facts everybody has to know. Generally speaking, a very rich, bunga-bunga-addicted person, perceived as very corrupt, is inevitably the most seductive politician in the country. What B. has done wrong in his career, according to traditional moral and social standards, is a source of admiration, envy and imitation: he wins consent because he is perceived as a gangster, a womanizer, a corrupt mafia-linked businessman; the more so, the more his success. These types of behaviour are an accepted way to reach success, wealth and power, it’s the elevation of these proceedings to a political and governmental philosophy. Not just the manipulated news, but all Mediaset TV programs subliminally carry on these values: talk-shows, fiction (in the Italian meaning of TV dramas), entertainment, sport, reality shows, quizzes, comedy shows, American B-movies and so on. As a consequence of this brainwashing, the working classes have voted for him abandoning the left, believing that a multimillionaire could do something for their social condition while he was stealing from the poor and giving to the rich in front of them; many middle-class professionals believed he would help them evade taxation, not without reason; the retired people and housewives, soap-operas watchers, fell in love with him, not to say of the young, the voters of tomorrow, who grew up not knowing of any other form of television, swallowing, enjoying and absorbing his wrong values like a freshly baked Neapolitan pizza. “…. thanks to radio and television, he [tomorrow’s dictator] is in the happy position of being able to communicate even with unschooled adults and not yet literate children…  to condition a million or ten million children, who will grow up into adults trained to buy your product … dictators and the would-be dictators have been thinking about this sort of thing for years, and that millions, tens of millions, hundreds of millions of children are in process of growing up to buy the local despot’s ideological product and … to respond with appropriate behavior to the trigger words implanted in those young minds by the despot’s propagandists” (as A. Huxley wrote in Brave New World Revisited).

In order to complete this picture, we must consider again what I have already written down, that we are not the land of milk and honey, but the country of menefreghismo, individualism and selfishness mirrored in the motto fatta la legge trovato l’inganno … everyone tries to beat the ‘system’ instead of upholding it.