According to a Slate description of the episode the Ace Ventura star, who now spends a lot of time drawing cartoons and publishing them, posted a cartoon he’d drawn of Mussolini and his mistress, Claretta Petacci, hanging from a bridge. The photo had the caption “If you’re wondering what fascism leads to, just ask Benito Mussolini and his mistress Claretta.”
This led to a not-so-pleased response from Alessandra Mussolini, an Italian politician who happens to be the granddaughter of Il Duce. A former actress who is also the niece of Italian movie star Sophia Loren, Mussolini’s first response was a terse “You are a bastard.”
She went on to tweet a mushroom cloud, as well as references to various shameful acts from American history. Alessandra also referenced Rosa Parks, although she referred to the civil rights icon as “#RosaPark.”
The young Mussolini has long defended her grandfather, who died many years before she was born. In 2003, per The Daily Telegraph, she stepped down from her political party after the party’s leader ripped Benito Mussolini as “the absolute evil” and apologized for Italy’s actions during World War II.
From Mel Brooks to Downfall memes, one’s head often goes straight to Hitler when it comes to the embodiment of evil, to be used for extreme comedy purposes. But pop culture has also made hay of Mussolini at times, sometimes to great effect.
In Woody Allen’s 1989 film Crimes and Misdemeanors, Allen’s character, filmmaker Cliff Stern, gets his revenge on his hated sitcom producer brother-in-law (Alan Alda) by splicing footage of Alda with that of Il Duce:
In a 1991 episode of Cheers, Carla Tortelli (Rhea Perlman) gets into a feud with her family over her refusal to go along with a family tradition to name her son after the first name of her father and the last ame of her mother- which in Carla’s case, is “Benito Mussolini.”
And in a 2006 episode of The Office, Dwight Schrute (Rainn Wilson) has been named Salesman of the Year and is asked to give a speech, which his colleagues sprinkle with lines from a speech by Mussolini:
Jim Carrey hasn’t responded yet to the tweets, so it’s unclear if he’ll make any effort to turn the legacy of Il Duce into comedy himself.
CULTURE (counter, pop, and otherwise) and the people who shape it.