It was March 20, 2020, all of Italy for just over ten days had been shut up in the house stunned by the pandemic and the president of Campania Vincenzo De Luca in his Friday afternoon broadcast at 29.50 minutes launches the lunge against those idiots who did not understand the gravity of the situation: “I get news that someone would like to prepare the graduation party, we send the carabinieri, but we send them with flamethrowers!”.
De Luca took 25 seconds, so much less than the quarter of an hour of celebrity predicted by Andy Warhol necessary to become famous in post-industrial society, to rise to the role of social star, to transform and genetically transform his political being. in a being “character”, a recognizable mask for the clarity of its identity characters that make it unique, imitable but, above all, plasticine in the hands of the public who now eat user-generated content for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
And perhaps from that very Friday, from that precise moment in which he threatens young graduates who thought they could celebrate their coveted university degree with impunity, that Vincenzo De Lucait goes beyond the pillars of Hercules of political communication in the strict sense without being able to go back and becomes, like it or not, the object and subject of popular and populist communication. A communication that, by exploiting the rationale of social networks, is now reproduced by parthenogenesis.
And with that famous “I am sending you the carabinieri with the flamethrower” that De Luca exchanges, without knowing it or wanting it, his thirty-year history as a political decision-maker and leader from Salerno to Naples with the entry into the Olympus of politainment that counts, which makes trend and which guarantees a visibility that goes beyond the narrow regional borders.
Thus the president of Campania, in recent months “has repeatedly resorted to obvious lexical forcing, and has tried to fish in the plebeian imagination some rhetorical figures that have revealed the abandonment of that spontaneity, in truth never completely genuine, of his always populist language, to marry and shift the semantic register on a uniquely pop variation “.
The numbers of that post that were exorbitant after the first 24 hours are still impressive one year later and have not stopped their rise. The interaction counter tells us that the video of March 20, today has 2,300,000 views, 34,309 comments and 59,942 reactions between Like, Love, Ahah, Wow, Sigh, Grrr and more than 17,000 shares.
Not to mention how much those 25 seconds, if we stop at the incriminated passage of a video lasting 47 minutes, also influenced the ecosystem of social messaging. Our WhatsApp chats, from Campania to Lombardy, were literally invaded in the following weeks by Deluchian memes and Sheriff’s stickers in all possible and imaginable versions. A flood of images and videos that has been fed, we could venture to say pandemically, on social networks and on the network without solution of continuity.
In fact, there are two further data to report that help us understand the viral range of that content, the first concerns TikTok, the platform that in the last year recorded the most important increase in users, going from 3.6 million to over. 8 million subscribers, which gives us back search volumes for two single hashtags that we can define as generous to say the least.
In fact, if #lanciafiamme used by users to classify videos has generated a total of 6.5 million views, the absolute record is the prerogative of videos tagged by users with #deluca which have produced a total of over 53 million views.
The second fact that comes to our aid in understanding the overwhelming effects of the Deluchian surrender to the dynamics of politainment, can be found in the volume of searches that users have made online on Google in the last twelve months, using the keyword “de luca flamethrower”.
It is surprising to see how the wake effect passed, radiating in the first two weeks until April 4, 2020 where search volumes reached 100, (which represents the highest frequency of search for the term) over the following months, users continued. to produce research so much that the monthly average in the last year stood at 260 monthly searches, which in itself does not represent a particularly brilliant figure, but it is by no means negligible if we consider the origin of the motivations for users’ searches.
Exactly one year after the flamethrower boutade, Vincenzo De Luca has become one of the most followed and imitated Italian celebrity leaders. His fame has grown exponentially in this pandemic year, a tragic condition that has ended up exalting his oratory and storytelling skills in an explosive mixture, as well as his arrogant and meticulous attitude.
The trap that De Luca perhaps does not see, or that he simply thinks of avoiding, is hidden in the compulsion to daily seek identification “on the basis of equivalence, with the average citizen”, a search for survival to keep the “Brand” of the Sheriff.
This run-up can take him off the track in a second, because his hyper-communication has completely devoured politics and the narrative of an administrative capacity: the last few months have been marked by a raising of the bar that has no equal, where the “flamethrower “And the” big brother “, followed by” coconut sellers “and” illegal parking attendants “, used as an example to mock political opponents; again, it was the turn of the “political ass who brays” to address Matteo Salvini , not to forget the “nullity mayors”, coined to attack Luigi de Magistris , in an endless list that gets longer, day after day, of new tragicomic episodes .
At the end of this pandemic, but above all at the end of his forty-year career as representative of the institutions, Vincenzo De Luca is on the verge of a precipice as he is one step away from being remembered more for his off-registration than for his administrative skills and policies.
The real risk is that the flamethrower could be the most grandiose symbolic achievement that the Sheriff will leave us as a gift, an inheritance, net of any political judgment, which does not do it justice; a legacy that will lead him to be “indexed” not for having had the intuition and vision to think of Salerno’s “Artist’s Lights”, but for having been the best imitator of Maurizio Crozza .

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