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WASTE CRISIS: did you know that Neapolitans are dirty people? That they do not have any attitude for the separate collection? that they are so selfish not to allow us to build new dumps in the area? Do you want to bet that, even this time, the North will be given the unfair burden to sort out the new scandalously astonishing problem of the South? Essentially, it is above all the Southerners’ fault if such bad rumors – and photos – are circulating about Italy, isn’t it? If these thoughts crossed your mind recently, there is no need worry: it is one of the several collateral effects of the usual media-feeding frenzy. Notwithstanding being a highly cloudy situation, still pending clarification, what you might have superficially come to know about is likely to be factious. In fact, at stake is an important and thorny question of silence and policing narratives.
The Nobel Prize for literature Toni Morrison wrote in one of her most famous book Playing in the Dark: ‘Silence from and about the subject was the order of the day. Some of the silences were broken and some maintained by authors who lived with and within the policing narrative. I am interested in the strategies for maintaining the silence and for breaking it.’ Unfortunately, this is even more true for a country, such as Italy, where a sort of great ‘videocracy’ is in force and which has been confirmed to be a ‘partly free” country by the ‘Freedom of the Press 2011 Survey Release’ provided by the international NGO Freedom of the Press.
You may be surprised to learn that the news of the day is that Naples’ “rubbish emergency” – threatening population with a wave of cholera similar to that of 1973 – has suddenly returned. Thanks to the prompt government intervention, however, it will be solved in a very short time. On another note, it is an incontrovertible fact that in such a “crisis” is anything but unexpected. In fact, since 1994, an integrated waste management has always missed the area. In Campania dump sites are increasingly overflowing. For the last twenty year, heaps of rubbish have started to pile up along the road, with extremely detrimental effects on public health. The result? The smell is unbearable, all windows are closed, and when exasperation hits the limit, untold trash fires erupt, making the dioxin level in the air rocket in a quite disquieting way.
It might seem the distressing scenario of a so-called third world country, yet it is actually the hard reality of a marvelous Italian region like Campania. It has literally been reduced to black fetid powder because of a diabolic connivance of political, industrial and criminal interests, which appear alarmingly determined in keeping the refuse crisis alive. It needs to be pointed out that garbage is always a business, either in the case you create an emergency or you are at pains to smooth things over. Moreover, it shouldn’t be neglected that included in the tons of rubbish invading the insufficient dumps of Campania, there is, above all, industrial waste, which big firms of Northern Italy and parts of Europe quickly and inexpensively disposed off thanks to organized crime.
We decided to discuss these issues with Salvatore C. He was born in Naples in 1984, but soon emigrated to Bologna, where he will graduate in Cinema, television and multimedia productions. Hugely talented and a bit reserved, Salvatore has agreed to share his opinions about Neapolitans, media and refusal crisis in English for the Toonari news public:
In your opinion is there any kernel of truth in the common places (criminality, trash…) circulating about Neapolitans?
Well, it is difficult to reply: of course, they are generalizations and it is very convenient to think that we have such problems because of genetics. But it is absurd. Politics and history have always played a key role. If you read a capital book such as ‘The southern question’ by Gramsci, you will find a lot of answers.
What did that book teach you regarding our topic?
That the northern bourgeois class has subdued the South, reducing it in a real golden colony: despite of this fact, the main ideology tries to make us believe that the Southerners are almost lazy barbarians, maybe because of the hot climate.
According to you, Italy still has forms of communication capable of telling the complex story of your region. How?
Unquestionably television has always been the worst narrator, because of clear reasons dealing with political propaganda. On the contrary, many good books keeps on giving me interesting and honest perspective of the facts, for example Saviano’s ‘Gomorra’. Maybe I could also reply that at the cinema nowadays you can find lots of independent and original movies about the South, such as ‘Passione,’ the recent movie by John Turturro. I found it really really gorgeous: Naples is a city where, in spite of all, people keep on singing: indeed, where singing is the only truthful form of expression.