I Sent A Silly Tweet About Italian TV And Became Internet Famous In Italy

Also! I learned that Italians hate it when we mix spaghetti and meatballs.

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I was in Italy a few weeks ago for a journalism festival. One night I was out to dinner and couldn't stop staring at the TV. There was a show on that was part game show, part Wipeout, part... Honestly, it was just one crazy thing after another.

I snapped a bunch of photos with my phone, and soon discovered it's called Ciao Darwin.

The reference to Darwin seemed like recognition of the fact that the show is a hot mess of stereotypes, insane human behaviour, and a healthy dose of sexism. At least that's what I thought after looking at the screen for about 5 or 10 minutes and not understanding a word of what people were saying.

So I did what I do whenever I've made a snap judgment about something I know next to nothing about: I tweeted.

Twitter / Via Twitter: @CraigSilverman

The retweets started kinda slowly but by late in the night it was clear I had struck a nerve.

So I sent another one around 2 a.m. Italy time. My good Canadian self didn't want anyone to be offended.

I tweeted earlier about an Italian TV show called Ciao Darwin and lots of Italians offered feedback. Who can explain it to me?

I went to bed not too long after. I woke up to lots of tweets. This was starting to be a thing...

I learned that Ciao Darwin was an old show that was making a comeback. And it seemed to be something of a guilty pleasure.

@CraigSilverman it's a TV show from the 90s that people actually WANTED BACK so hard. Even though lots of them watch it ironically. I hope!

Lots of people referred to it as "trash" television, but in an endearing kind of way.

@CraigSilverman @marcosalvati to a certain extent, it is. It's trash television to the extreme but well presented and hella funny.

@CraigSilverman it's a pity you don't understand italian. The show is trash as fuck, but the tv host, is so shrewd, a comic genius!

Others said it's a terrible, sexist show.

@CraigSilverman oh no you were right! that's a tv show offensive for women and I guess for the entire human race

Or the best thing ever.

@CraigSilverman It's the best TV Show in the history of mankind

Some people thought I was American, so there were a lot of Jersey Shore references — as in, how dare you talk smack about our TV when you air that kind of crap!

@CraigSilverman We Italians do not take television lessons from the Americans. Ciao darwin>jersey Shore

This went on for days.

One of my favourite exchanges was with a woman who pointed out the horrible things North Americans do to Italian cuisine.

@CraigSilverman we have Ciao Darwin but you have pizza with ANANAS and spaghetti with MEAT BALLS

TFW you learn Italians think we're nuts for mixing spaghetti and meatballs.

Twitter / Via Twitter: @saesita_

Another guy watched our exchange and tweeted that to an Italian, mixing spaghetti and meatballs "is like pissing in a church."

Thanks a lot, Chef Boyardee.

Things eventually calmed down. Then, days later, the tweets started up again. What the hell was going on? This guy filled me in:

@CraigSilverman you have so much italian replay because one of the biggest fb italian page post your tweet

Underneath my tweet the page admins posted a comment with this image. The guy in these photos became a meme after appearing on the show. I guess they're suggesting this dude killed me? ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Facebook / Via Facebook: fabbrica.del.degrado.IX

As with the tweets, many of the Facebook commenters didn't like some dumb American (I'm Canadian, you guys!) looking down on their TV.

I tried to answer questions people had about Canada and Canadians.

La Fabbrica Del Degrado

At this point I started telling my co-workers I was going viral in Italy. No one believed me. Actually it's probably more accurate to say they didn't care.

I also posted a comment inviting everyone to come to Canada so they could judge our trash TV. One guy didn't seem too into the idea.

La Fabbrica Del Degrado / Via Facebook: fabbrica.del.degrado.IX¬if_t=like¬if_id=1460995954880819

I felt like the Canadian internet ambassador to Italy.

Exactly a week after sending the tweet from Italy, people reached out to let me know the show was airing again. I tweeted with #CiaoDarwin to ask if the guy in the dinosaur costume was back. I soon heard back from the writer of the show itself.

@CraigSilverman dear Craig, I’m the writer of the show, I would be happy to have you with us. Bring some maple syrup for Dino.

If he wanted me to come back to Italy, I was game.

@marcosalvati Marco! I will bring maple syrup and moose meat. All dinosaurs love moose meat.

I tried to watch the episode, but my VPN failed me and I was blocked.

Oh no, mediaset.it won’t let me watch #ciaodarwin. This is all I saw. It’s an international scandal!

By the end of the show I figured my minor internet celebrity was finally over.

Nope.

Marco from the show messaged me one morning to say my tweet was cited in a big article about the show in one of Italy's largest newspapers. He sent me photos. What the hell?!

(Note: In all future public appearances I will require refer people to me as a "super analista del web.")

In the story, the journalist asked Ciao Darwin's host, Paolo Bonolis, if I was right that the show is the end of humanity.

"Silverman has a point, it is what I wanted to tell [to the audience]: Ciao Darwin simply shows the warning signs of the apocalypse," Bonolis said. "We don't just show monsters, that kind of humanity really exists: it is our neighbor."

Shit just got deep.

That same day, an Italian website wrote all about me discovering Ciao Darwin. The Google translation was rough, but I can for sure say they did a good job writing a BuzzFeed-style headline.

Honestly, the auto-translation spat out such beautiful jazz poetry that I didn't want to know what was really being said about me:

Giornalettismo / Via giornalettismo.com

It's me, the super analista who has become an orphan of the trash. Seriously, god bless you, Italy.

At this point I realized I still had no idea what the show was about, or why my tweet had kicked off so much reaction. So I went to the only expert I knew: Ciao Darwin writer Marco Salvati.

Elisa D'Ospina / Via facebook.com

"Italians are not used to getting international attention for their local TV shows," he told me. "Every 'out of the border' comment (coming from a country recognized as 'civilized' according to the Italian culture) is something surprising that can take on big significance."

I also asked him to explain to me what the show is about. I now present his answer along with some GIFs of scenes from the show.

"Ciao Darwin is a politically incorrect anthropological laboratory. The idea is to set two opposite human categories against each other and see which of them prevails after a series of physical and mental trials (i.e., rich vs. poor, beautiful vs. ugly, etc.)."

"The naked truth is that we show the real human aspects of these types of people with all their brutality and competitive nature. They look like monsters, but they actually are our neighbours."

"We show the grotesque. The audience laughs not knowing that they are laughing at themselves. This might be cruel, but at the same time it is realistic and honest."

I also asked Salvati what he thought of me calling his show the end of humanity. "I found this comment very interesting and exciting because I felt it was a compliment and that you have understood the essence of the program," he told me.

"Is this show really the end of humanity? We hope so!" he said. "Your comment captured the real aim of the show — this is what we wanted to transmit to the audience. A warning sign: The end of humanity is coming, and you can watch it, in primetime."

He told me the next episode, airing this Friday, will be of particular interest.

"Don’t miss our next episode: 'Italians vs. Foreigners,'" Salvati said. "Whose side are you on?"

By now the answer is obvious: At the end of humanity, I stand with the Italians.