When the new Miss Italia was asked on her way to winning the glitzy televised contest what historical period she would like to have lived in, her answer was probably not quite what most Italians would have expected.
Eighteen-year-old Alice Sabatini has drawn a torrent of online ridicule after telling her pageant judges her epoch of choice was 1942 – one of the darkest years of the Second World War and the Mussolini dictatorship.
Asked why she had chosen that year, the contestant from Lazio said she wanted to “live” the Second World War, noting she would not have had to fight as she is a woman.
“Well . . . to see really what the Second World War was like, since the books talk about it for page after page. I . . I want to live it. In any case I am a woman so I wouldn’t have had to do military service, so I would have been at home with the fear of . . .” she said, trailing off with a light laugh.
It was in 1942 that Anne Frank began writing her diary, and that the Nazis began gassing to death tens of thousands of Jews at Auschwitz and other camps.
Italy was allied with Germany at the time, and that year, they invaded unoccupied Vichy France. Hundreds of Italians died for the fascist cause in the brutal North African campaign, including in the long retreat from the Battle of El Alamein in 1942. And more than 20,000 Italians died in the Battle of Stalingrad that year, many during the bloody defeat of the Italian 8th Army in Russia near the Don River.
Miss Sabatini’s strange desire to relive one of the continent’s bloodiest years triggered a swift and savage online barrage of satirical memes. Twitter montages featured the brunette beauty queen smiling as she sashayed in her bikini through war-ravaged battlefields. An Italian satirist known as “The Jackal” produced a spoof video that quickly went viral.
But Miss Sabatini’s unorthodox response didn’t seem to damage her standing in the pageant, which she won based on both judge’s scores and viewer call-in votes.
The jokes at the 18-year-old’s expense prompted one of the pageant’s judges, Vladimir Luxuria, a transgender actress and politician, to call for more comprehension of the gaffe. “Try to imagine the emotions of a young woman who had all the spotlight on her: She panicked.”
Miss Sabatini Tuesday defended her comments, saying she was nervous and caught off guard as the first contestant to be asked the question, but had meant to express admiration for her great grandmother, who is still alive and always recalls the Second World War.
“I would have liked to live through what she had gone through in those years,” Ms. Sabatini was reported as saying in an interview published in Urban Post. “For better and for worse.”