Elliot Alderson

Hello, friend, you probably already watched Mr Robot – and if you didn’t, well, spoiler alert for you. I rarely indulge in binge-watching, and more often than not I quit a tv series before its final episode. It happens that slow

developments of the story, gaps in the plot, or even poor acting prevent me from getting to the end. Mr Robot has been an exception.

A friend told me for months that I should have watched Mr Robot, and I must say that she was right. It is true that at some point you might get lost in the show: the second of the four seasons, for instance, gave me the impression that the story was not really going anywhere, and that characters were just

wandering aimlessly in the midst of a financially crippled world. However, just be patient and wait for the story to unfold. Everything starts, at least initially, with a quite simple plot to grasp: there is a huge global corporation substantially controlling and directing everyone’s life, and there is a group of hackers whose goal is quite simple – they want to tear down the system. The whole problem lying behind their plan is that, in fact, there is a sort of conspiracy behind the conspiracy, and the hackers’ mysterious allies, the Dark

Army (a Chinese group of hackers) turn out to be their worst enemy, those actually responsible of every big sneaky machination taking place in the world.

When Mr Robot, Elliot Alderson and their group of hackers succeed in their cyber-attack against E-Corp, the big company they planned to badly hurt, everyone seems to be left momentarily purposeless (at least I was under that impression), while it is revealed that the big enemy is not really there. The

actual main villain, indeed, is Whiterose, a transgender character who also masquerades herself as the male minister of State Security of China. At the same time, Elliot’s psychological problems become more and more evident – in fact, one can say that there are two stories in Mr Robot: the fight against the world’s puppetmasters, and Elliot’s fight against his inner demons and his realisation that he is Mr Robot. Elliot suffers from a form of dissociative identity disorder, and this makes it more difficult and, at the same time, more

interesting for the viewer to follow the show in order to understand not just how the struggle against the big powerful villain is going to end, but also the reasons behind Elliot/Mr Robot’s complicated personality. It tells a lot, I think, the fact that the most intense episode, basically taking place in one single location, is the one that uncovers the disturbing origins of Elliot’s psychological issues.

On another level, one might use the show to reflect on the nature of revolutions. Some of the main characters happen to wonder whether anything actually changed and if at least it did change for the better. They occasionally

cast doubts on the usefulness of their anti-system actions. I am normally irritated by the simplistic approach taken by those who want to subvert society without thinking about the consequences, as frequently revolutions end in a very bad way when they succeed, or, when they fail, they are just described ex-post as disruptive and pointless riots, even when there are some good intentions behind them. Simplicity is not a feature I would attach to Mr Robot.

Some mysteries are left unsolved (I can think of at least a couple of them), but, overall, I enjoyed the show. Rami Malek deserves all the praise he received over the last years. I appreciated his interpretation of Freddy Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, and I think the way he has been able to reflect Elliot Alderson’s inner struggles has been almost next to perfect.

Una vecchia esperienza

Oggi (in realtà ieri, visto che sto scrivendo dopo la mezzanotte del 28 novembre) il giornalista Massimiliano Di Giorgio, che ho conosciuto anni fa via web e poi dal vivo, ha ripercorso sul suo sito la storia di Novamag, una testata che dal 2006 al 2010 ha provato a descrivere il reale e il virtuale, la separazione (forse oggi scomparsa, come Massimiliano giustamente fa notare) tra on e off.

Al progetto di Novamag presi parte anche io, con qualche articolo riguardante il web (ad esempio i blog, ma anche i giochi on line), ma anche la politica, i libri nonché qualche posto interessante in cui mi capitava di imbattermi. Per Novamag fu organizzata anche una festa in un locale romano, in cui ci fu modo (almeno per me) di incontrare per la prima volta tanti autori con cui avevo avuto modo di interagire solo tramite schermo e tastiera. Mi ricordo che quella sera andai un po’ incuriosito, ma anche intimorito, poiché, se la memoria non mi inganna, avevo l’idea di fare per qualche bislacco motivo una brutta figura di fronte a gente che mi sembrava essere molto più in gamba di me (anche perché lo era).

Qui avevo già tempo fa salvato le mie cose. Ora Massimiliano sul suo sito ha messo a disposizione l’intero archivio (in formato .pdf) dell’intera produzione di Novamag, e, insomma, ho scritto questo post soprattutto per segnalarvelo.

This weekend in Schöneberg

A few weeks ago I guest-starred in a video introducing the work of my friend Massimo Bonanno, a Berlin-based Sicilian artist.

While I wait for my Academy Award for best supporting actor, I am happy to invite you to have a look at his video (see below) and, if you happen to be in Berlin this weekend or sometime by the end of this year, to visit his exhibition located in one of the most popular (and friendly) Italian venues in Berlin.

The exhibition opens on this Sunday, 3rd November, at 1 pm. Have a look at the event page here for more details.

Il pallone è la più bella cosa (cit.)

Anche in questa stagione calcistica sono su Screwdrivers a scrivere sciocchezze più o meno settimanali sul Milan e sul mondo del pallone italiano in generale. Questo è il mio primo post per l’annata 2019/2020.

Se volete un luogo dove, in modo tutto sommato e solitamente sereno, si discute dell’oppio dei popoli in salsa rossonera, passatemi (anzi, passateci, perché gli autori sono tanti) a trovare qui.

Il bravo italiano

Il modo in cui ognuno di noi si descrive informa, tutto sommato, il modo in cui poi si agisce. Lo stesso discorso si può, credo, applicare alla memoria collettiva. Un mio interesse nel capire come noi italiani ci dipingiamo, e perché ci dipingiamo così – un interesse che nasce da quando mi sono trasferito per la prima volta all’estero, ormai nove anni fa, e ho quindi subito il distacco dal mio paese – mi ha portato a leggere con estremo interesse questo libro di Filippo Focardi, professore di Storia Contemporanea presso l’Università di Padova.

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Black Mirror, but not as black as it used to be

A few months ago I briefly discussed with a colleague the changes brought about in Black Mirror during the transition some years ago from Channel 4 to Netflix. I argued that, while some episodes lived up to the quality of the Channel 4-produced seasons and to the expectations of the fans (San Junipero, for instance), a general mutation of the series created by Charlie Brooker could be generally noticed. He was instead happy with Netflix since the change meant more money for production and all that a higher budget involves – that was a step-up for Black Mirror, in his opinion. Although I was not totally convinced, it seemed a sensible opinion (expressed by a person who would have been a perfect fit for a Black Mirror episode, by the way). Now, having just watched the fifth season, I beg to differ again.

Let us consider Striking Vipers. One can see from the beginning where the story leads: a bored husband, Danny, meets his old best friend, Karl, who is still dating young girls, living in the city and acting cool and young, and gets from him a VR fighting videogame. After the first fight, they end up having a sort of hyperrealistic VR affair and daily virtual sexual intercourses, setting the conditions for a crisis in Danny’s marriage. Utterly predictable, and the final compromise is not really the dramatic plot twist one could expect. Everything perfectly linear – too linear.

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Il ritorno della maggioranza naturale

La presentazione e la visualizzazione di numeri e dati sono un fattore importante nella lettura che si dà dei suddetti numeri e dati che, si presume, siano oggettivi. Prendiamo come esempio i sondaggi elettorali in Italia.

Questi sondaggi, spesso, dividono i partiti in tre o quattro grandi blocchi: l’area del sedicente “governo del cambiamento”, quella di centrosinistra, quella di centrodestra, più talvolta un generico gruppo di piccoli partiti definiti come “altri” (come fa, ad esempio, Agorà su Rai Tre con gli studi di EMG). Un altro modo è quello di raggruppare loghi e percentuali rispetto alla posizione dei partiti – di sostegno o di fiducia – in relazione al governo almeno formalmente guidato da Giuseppe Conte (si vedano, ad esempio, le tabelle di Piazza Pulita su La7 che mostrano i sondaggi effettuati da Index). In maniera un poco più neutrale, visto che i partiti e le liste sono elencati ognuno per conto proprio, vengono presentate da parte del Corriere della Sera le rilevazioni di Nando Pagnoncelli.

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