Watching Il Festival di Sanremo each midwinter has always held a special place in my heart.

I have distinctive memories of the whole family crowding around nonna’s TV– somehow still functioning from the ‘80s– to listen to the newly-released Italian tunes. Fitted with family commentary and live reactions, watching Sanremo was truly an experience not to be missed.

As I have emerged into my identity as a young Italo-Canadian, these cultural events have taken on great importance to me because they act as a means to preserve my heritage. Over the past couple of years, I have made a concerted effort to safeguard my Italianità which has materialized in perusing various types of Italian media, participating in annual family traditions and actively practicing Italian with parenti here in Canada and in il Bel Paese.

Given Sanremo’s cultural significance, I naturally was looking forward to this year’s festival with great excitement.

After the first couple of nights, my expectations were utterly quashed. Sanremo 2023, Italy’s “most popular” song contest, was flagrantly underwhelming. A couple of things in particular excited my disappointment.

Blanco’s mid-performance “temper tantrum” was a brutta figura for Italians. As supposed retaliation for poor-quality audio, Blanco– who won Sanremo 2022— began destroying the roses on Ariston’s palco (in the pic below). Italians weren’t happy about this display to say the least– and rightly so.

Blanco’s actions speak to his personal character. There are some ways the Italian singer could have chosen to react. He could have continued to sing, as many other singers have done in face of similar audio malfunctions, which would have spoken favourably to his professionalism.

However Blanco chose to make a scene, which signals a broader generational attitude that seems to characterize the 21st century. Nowadays, reliance on technology is a given. Without its proper functioning, individuals can’t think clearly for themselves. However, the beauty of artistry and creativity lies in its spontaneity that can respond gracefully to difficult situations. While I’m sure that dealing with these unexpected situations can certainly be frustrating, destroying the beautiful stage setup was totally unwarranted.

Chiara Ferragni (in the pic at the top) claimed that her vestito senza vergogna, which drew attention to particular parts of her figure, was intended to advance women’s rights. She argued that women should be able to show off their body “without shame”, though I think the dress itself was contradictory to its original purpose.

As a female, I am certainly for women empowerment. However, I don’t think it’s “empowering” or “confident” to have to show off our bodies to garner attention because this detracts from the person we truly are. Women have intelligence, class, beauty, elegance and confidence. Extremely revealing dresses thrust focus from these wonderful attributes to our physical bodies, not necessary on our path to success and flourishment.

As a last point, the present-day Sanremo festival has noticeably changed from its earlier ‘50s days. In 2023, many performers want to make a statement and they will go through all the lengths to do this. Many performances or outfits are indirectly intended to comment on politics or global situations. In this way, the festival is being diluted from its original purpose, that is, to shine a light on talented musicians. I miss the days of no extra frills or theatrics.

Angelica Vecchiato

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