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Remember who your real friends are . Suburra: Blood on Rome and the Performative Nature of Young Italian Masculinity

This is a so-called personal version (author's manuscript as accepted for publishing after the review process but prior to final layout and copyediting). Readers are asked to use the official publication in references. The contribution is
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  Authors’ Copy This is a so-called personal version (author's manuscript as accepted for publishing after the review process but prior to final layout and copyediting). Readers are asked to use the official  publication in references. The contribution is available at the following link: Citation : Farci M. (2019). “Remember who your real friends are”. Suburra: Blood on Rome and the Performative Nature of Young Italian  Masculinity . In Amendola, A., Troianiello, N., & Barone, L. (eds). Seriality  Across Narrations, Languages and Mass Consumption: To Be Continued…. (pp.104-119).   UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.     C HAPTER E IGHT  “R  EMEMBER WHO YOUR REAL FRIENDS ARE ”.   S  UBURRA :    B  LOOD ON  R OME AND THE P ERFORMATIVE  N ATURE OF Y OUNG I TALIAN M ASCULINITY  M ANOLO F ARCI   Suburra: Blood on Rome  (2017-), a 10-episode organized crime series set on the Roman coast is the first TV show Netflix has produced in Italy and it is a prequel to a 2015 film by Stefano Sollima and a 2013 novel by Giovanni De Cataldo and Carlo Bonini. Although Suburra is a distinctly Italian production, especially in terms of the popular mafia-corruption plot that is based upon real life events (Renga, 2018), it was clearly designed to grab foreign viewers and thus released worldwide in more than 190 countries, as an Italian answer to  Narcos . Created by Cattleya, Italy's leading independent film and television producer, in collaboration with the national public service broadcaster RAI, Suburra  seems to be following a  path already trodden by pay television, which has serialised and built sagas based on models at once literary and cinematic, such as  Romanzo Criminale  and Gomorra  (Barra and Scaglioni, 2016). Like these, Suburra   blurs the boundary between fiction and everyday reality; the series is loosely inspired by an actual scandal, known as  Mafia Capitale , that first  broke in 2014, when it was revealed that a crime ring run by Massimo Carminati, a one-eyed former fascist gangster, had misappropriated money destined for city services. Set in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, Suburra  revolves around a character who recalls the figure of Carminati: Samurai (Francesco Acquaroli), a cold-blooded and calculating gangster acting on behalf of the Sicilian mafia that want to set up a base in Ostia to flood Rome with cocaine. Samurai is depicted as the last king of Rome; as such, he sits at the apex of a criminal world that has irremediably turned the Eternal City into a pervasive  suburra  —a clear reference to the famous red-light district of ancient Rome mostly populated by plebeian families  “Remember who your real friends are”. Suburra  105 and prostitutes which, with its taverns and dark alleys, provided the ideal theatre for crimes and mischief. Samurai intimidates and corrupts everyone in his path. Among his victims are Amedeo Cinaglia (Filippo  Nigro), a disillusioned leftist politician, and Sara Monaschi (Claudia Gerini), a financial advisor who sits on the Vatican Council and wants to channel the sale of the Ostia land towards her husband’s company.   Against the backdrop of a city portrayed as a sinkhole of greed and corruption, the series follows the story of three young mobsters destined to  be united by one criminal purpose, the blackmailing of a priest, Father Teodosio (Gerasimos Skiadares  ī  s), who, in the show’s opening scene, suffers a heart attack while participating in an orgy organized in his honour by Sara Monaschi to influence his decision on the Vatican Council. The three fledgling criminals have a completely different cultural and  personal baggage: Aureliano Adami (Alessandro Borghi), a blond thug in his mid-twenties who competes with his sister for the role of heir to the local criminal empire on the outskirts of Ostia along the capital's coastline; Gabriele “Lele” Marchilli (Eduardo Valdarnini), a middle-class university student who is occasionally involved in drug distribution in high-class Roman society, which he hides from his father who is a police officer; and Alberto “Spadino” Anacleti (Giacomo Ferrara), a closeted homosexual whose older brother runs the biggest Sinti criminal family in Rome (usually called with the pejorative term  zingari ) and intends to see him married as soon as possible to expand their business. Despite their differences, the three young criminals share the same identity crisis regarding their male role and are disoriented by their position in the community where they live. In the act of rebelling against the forces that would deprive them of power, they decide to cement a criminal alliance in order to restore their authority. Although it is based on violence, angst, and toughness, their enterprise seems more authentic and less evil if compared with the tainted underworld of crime, politics and the Vatican that riddles the city of Rome. Masculinity in crisis Focusing on the friendship of the three young thugs allows Suburra  to   expand the usual titillation of the Mafia saga genre and offers, instead, a story that probes the trials and complexities of contemporary manhood in a manner which is far from common for an Italian gangster movie (Lotz, 2014). The series    presents the inadequacy and anxiety of a masculinity unable to measure up in a world where the traditional authority of work, community, and family are declining (Faludi, 1999), and the structures of  Chapter Eight 106 heteronormativity (Connell, 1995)   are engaged in a constant process of  boundary maintenance and reconstitution. As we will argue, the inner turmoil experienced by Aureliano, Spadino and Lele in defining their male relationships is a response to the cultural discourse concerning the supposed crisis of masculinity so prominent in the abundant recent literature on manhood (Lynne, 1990; MacInnes, 1998; Clare, 2001; DiPiero, 2002; Rosin, 2012). Indeed, during the 1990s, masculinity in crisis  became a cliché, a catch-all container that has affected contemporary representations of men in Western popular culture (Beynon, 2001). These representations have oscillated between images of weak, oppressed and self-destructive   men, unable to cope with the demands made upon them (Savran, 1998; Robinson, 2000; Walsh 2010; Peberdy, 2011), cultural texts that celebrate the return of the older forms of masculinity which the  purportedly effeminate culture of late capitalism had locked away in a cage (Bly, 1990; Jeffords, 1993), and narratives of men that “incorporate and mobilize failure as constitutive force for the reorientation of  posthegemonic forms of white masculinist privilege” (Carroll, 2011: 2). In any case, masculinity has been treated as an imaginary production, not a stable sense of being, but a lack and an absence  that must unceasingly be “challenged and restaged” in order to become fully present to itself (Modleski, 1991). In the recent Italian context, discussions concerning male crisis have mainly revolved around the seductive figure of Silvio Berlusconi, the media tycoon who served as Prime Minister of Italy in four governments. Berlusconi’s ostensibly feminine attributes “situate him squarely within a type of masculinity that has historically been regarded as commercialised and inauthentic”, (Gundle, 2018, 449). As a consequence, in her analysis of the post-2000 Italian cinema, Catherine O'Rawe (2014) states that  Romanzo Criminale  —both the 2005 film, directed by Michele Placido and the two seasons of the TV series, directed by Stefano Sollima, which ran  between 2008 and 2010—and movies such as Vallanzasca  (Michele Placido, 2010) responded to this pervasive fear of feminization by  presenting an image of a traumatized male body as capable of enduring astonishing injury and still surviving. The trope of masculinity in crisis conveyed by these gangster movies is similar, as is the emphasis on male masochism and physical suffering that are absolutely crucial for shoring up a normative model of male identity. It authorizes men to play the part of rebels contending against the power system and the status quo in order to secure their moral authority that is crucial to the process of (patriarchal) cultural reproduction.
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