Italian entertainment: Khabi Lame, not lame at all
- WTI Magazine #145 Nov 13, 2021
Khaby Lame is a 21 years old Italian guy of. Well, he was born in Senegal, and despite the fact he has lived in Italy most of his life, that he speaks Italian, that he gesticulates as an Italian, he hasn’t received any Italian passport yet, because of a law we hope will son change. But he is Italian, despite any passport. He grew up in the small town of Chivasso, in the province of Turin, in the Piedmont region.
He is famous thanks to social media: nowadays we are used to consider him as a “web star”. He has become famous during the first lockdown when he started posting some hilarious video on Tik Tok.
What is Tik Tok? Tik Tok is a social network focused on videos, that have a duration between fifteen seconds and three minutes. It’s one of the most used platforms on Internet, especially by early teenagers and very young people in general, and it’s still in expansion.
It works very easily: if you see a video and you like it, you can decide to double-click and leave a like. Otherwise, you can choose whether to switch to the following one. Algorithms analyze your moves and orient the kind of video you might like the most, to make you spend the most time possible on their platform.
Generally, the kind of videos that are more appreciated is the silly, funny, stupid ones. The consequence is it brought to a generation of Tik Tokers oriented to show the extreme (but allowed) side of things to make laugh and receive engagement.
Khaby Lame, as an Italian, understood the importance of “gesticulating.”
Gesticulating is not something we should shame or regret, because as Italians it has been part of our culture for centuries and helps establish a more direct relationship with those we communicate with.
Indeed, not everybody knows Italian regional theatre has been developed in the 18th century when not even the Italian State was founded. This kind of very noble art was something that allowed our forefathers to travel all around the globe, spreading and enriching their culture. But it was impossible for them to be understood, because regional theatre companies were used to talk not even in Italian, but in dialect, and the locals were used to speaking only their language as well. That is when they understood that mimics and gesticulating could have been the best way to connect people.
And this is the same Italian ratio that moves Khaby Lame video on Tik Tok.
As it is possible to see in one of his videos, he makes fun essentially of the web stars that decide voluntarily to be extremely unlogic, to provoke a reaction in the user, that can remain more and more time attached to the screen, looking at those videos. His most famous gesture is a typical Italian way of saying “see, it’s easy”.
He is very funny, well-educated, and not above the lines. He doesn’t need to say anything, he needs just his mimics: this aspect makes him globally appreciated. He is also engaged in some health and food programs in Africa, as well as his concern about climate change; not only intended in a mediatic way but also as a real commitment to be pursued and disseminated to its wide Internet community. Today it is composed of 56.4 million followers on Instagram and 119.9 million followers on Tik Tok: he is the second-most-popular TikToker in the world, only behind the Italian American Charli D'Amelio, who has 127 million followers. Khaby is so famous that Mark Zuckerberg chose him to explain in a simple way why Facebook changed its name and became Meta.
It’s ironic to think how Italian Americans have been discriminated or stereotyped, and still are nowadays, for their hand gestures. It would be a loss if ever we decided to renounce to one of the aspects that made us special in the world: facial expression is something part of us, as well as the engaging moves of our hands, to be honest of our entire body, when we are really into the argument.
Thank you Khaby for reminding us of one of Italians’ strengths. Arts evolve, and somehow the story of Khaby reminds us how it is possible to be very successful doing simple things, conveying good messages without exceeding or being ridiculous.
In other terms, to be successful just remaining Italians.