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Why Does a “Clown” Frighten So Many?

Beppe Grillo's Social Media Aware 5 Star Movement

Political elites and the media around Europe must have lost their collective senses of humor: they call Beppe Grillo a “comedian” or a “clown”, but nobody is laughing at his words.

The past week after a significant electoral result for Beppe Grillo’s Five Star Movement (M5s), the entire world is looking at Italy with concern.

There is no doubt these are times of great uncertainty for Italy, both from a socio-economic and a political point of view, but, seriously now, was anybody naïve enough to really expect a concrete solution to come out of the polls? That the outcome in Italy’s election was doomed to produce no governing majority was quite predictable. So what is this fuss all about?

The Reasons behind Grillo-Phobia

It would appear that the reason behind the fear which the Italian election outcome has generated is not so much the stagnating economic situation that, by the way, has beset the country for at least a decade. Instead it is the fact that a big share of the Italian electorate voted for a man who is often regarded as a “clown”. Mind you, I am not talking about Berlusconi, he’s better described as a shameful disgrace! I am referring to Beppe Grillo, the founder of the 5 Star Movement.

Yet, apart from his bushy and curly hair, Grillo’s appearance does not resemble at all that of a clown. Neither does what he says. Furthermore, he does not have sharp teeth of the blood-thirsty kid-eating clown IT in the famous American horror movie. So where does the Grillo-phobia stem from?

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The demonization of Grillo by the Italian press – with the exception of the daily “il Fatto Quotidiano” (the only newspaper in Italy which does not get public funds) – is hardly a surprise, since the M5s’ political program pledges to eliminate the huge public financial support that biased Italian newspapers cash in on every year. Also the grudge that Italian “professional” politicians bear against Grillo is simple to explain: they can’t get over the fact that people preferred a “comedian” to them!

But why does that surprise them? Well, Grillo makes jokes about Italy, but it was they who turned Italy into a joke!

By Stefano Salustri

Stefano Salustri
Stefano Salustri

Now based in Berlin, Stefano is from L’Aquila, Italy but has worked and studied for years in different European countries.

After earning an M.A. from the University of Bath in 2011, he currently collaborates with various magazines and writes about international politics and energy issues.

He joined Italy Chronicles in December 2012 and contributes articles on Italian news, politics and food.

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