Wednesday. 14/9/2022

The Monocle Minute

Image: Reuters

Opinion / Ed Stocker

Protest vote

One of the great mistakes of the early days of reporting on Trumpism was to lump all of the former US president’s supporters into a uniform bloc. In the run-up to the Italian elections on 25 September, it would be easy to do the same when looking at the backers of the right-wing Fratelli d’Italia party, led by Giorgia Meloni (pictured). She is someone who has rallied in opposition to the “LGBT lobby” and declared a need for a “naval blockade” against illegal immigrants. Surely all of her supporters have extreme views?

While Meloni is clearly a far-right candidate, many will be voting for her for reasons that have little to do with immigration or LGBT rights. There are those who will do so simply because they don’t feel represented by any of Italy’s other squabbling politicians. Meloni can paint herself as an outsider, having not dirtied her hands in any of the nation’s recent disastrous coalitions. Many believe that she could soon be the country’s prime minister, even if polls suggest that about 42 per cent of voters are undecided about who to support.

There was no talk of naval blockades in a recent debate between Meloni and the Democratic Party’s schoolmasterly secretary, Enrico Letta, hosted by newspaper Corriere della Sera’s streaming channel on Monday. Instead, her discourse centred on European agreements and migration-processing camps in third-party nations – controversial, perhaps, but tested in Australia and on the cards for the UK.

While Meloni’s bid to appear more moderate should be taken with a pinch of salt, her popularity is a reaction to a broken political system. The anti-establishment Five Star Movement became the nation’s principal party in 2018 because people were fed up with traditional politicians. The same could happen this time around but the consequences would be altogether more serious.

Ed Stocker is Monocle’s European editor at large, based in Milan.

Transport / Detroit

Drive time

There hasn’t been a Detroit Auto Show since January 2019, so the industry is revving its engine as it convenes this week, with US president Joe Biden expected to visit today. In the years since the last outing, there has been a race between US legacy car-makers to go electric before they’re left in the dust. That’s especially true for big, stately Buick, which has pledged to become all-electric by 2030 and even offered to buy out dealerships that don’t want to make the change – all without putting a single EV on the market yet.

Image: Buick, Carl Wyatt
Image: Buick, Carl Wyatt

It’ll be 2024 before a day-to-day electric Buick hits the road but here in Motor City the company is presenting its exotic Wildcat car (pictured, with a classic Wildcat above). “The Wildcat EV concept represents the real design future for Buick,” Sharon Gauci, executive director design of Global Buick, GMC and GMC Hummer, tells The Monocle Minute. “This will be the template for the brand’s design that will carry it for the next decade or more.”

Image: Kyle Johnson

Sport / USA

Best foot forward

Nike is under scrutiny. Consumers want it to come good on its promises about improving sustainability and how it produces its clothes and footwear. For the new October issue of Monocle – on newsstands from Thursday – we had access to Nike’s HQ in Beaverton, Oregon. The 11,000 employees who work there are unapologetically earnest about the organisation’s high-minded intentions (even if in 2021 Nike made €44.5bn from a core product that relies on leather, rubber and manufacturing in Asia).

Chief design officer John Hoke III (pictured) insists that the changes happening are significant. “Regeneration is going to be a huge part of design’s future,” he says. “That means the constant reimagining of matter. How this shoe becomes a basketball, becomes a shirt, becomes a bag and goes back to being a shoe. We have that power, that control, as designers.” He then reveals a series of surprising leaps that the company is undertaking. To discover what these are, make sure that you have a digital and print subscription to Monocle.

Image: Alamy

Leisure / UK

Coming attractions

Theme-park trade fair IAAPA swung into London’s Excel convention centre yesterday, gathering 470 international exhibitors that manufacture attractions and systems for amusement parks. In the colourful cacophony of the hall you’ll find everything from water-slide builders to a lifelike triceratops sculpture. With pandemic restrictions scrapped in most countries, the up-and-down global theme-park sector is poised to climb in value from €49bn in 2021 to €72bn in 2022.

Exhibitors are keen to explain that “experience” is the key focus for the industry’s future and that a spotlight on storytelling has led brands to buy usage rights from film franchises and hire in-house writers to create compelling narratives. “It’s not just good for us but also for the big film producers and streamers,” says Bakit Baydaliev, CEO of Turkish company DOF Robotics, whose monster-truck VR ride, Grave Digger, was a big draw on opening day. “When they work with us, they get closer to the public,” he adds. So could Netflixland be on the cards? Stranger things could happen.

Monocle 24 / Monocle on Culture

The Technicolor world of David Bowie

Fifty years after the release of The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars, we look at David Bowie’s legacy and what the evolution of his visual world tells us. We speak to Moonage Daydream director Brett Morgen and Mark Paytress, author of Glam! When Superstars Rocked the World, 1970-74.

Monocle Films / Greece

Why Greeks live longer

Nestled in the heart of the Aegean, the island of Ikaria used to be a secluded spot with a humble and unhurried way of life. Today, a third of the island’s population lives to be more than 90 years old. We venture to the local kafeneios, wild beaches and abundant allotments to meet the bronzed seniors.

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