Sunday 22 July 2018

Italians mistake Samuel L Jackson and Magic Johnson for 'lazy migrants' after they're pictured in Tuscany

Samuel L Jackson and Magic Johnson in Tuscany. PIC: Magic Johnson/Twitter
Samuel L Jackson and Magic Johnson in Tuscany. PIC: Magic Johnson/Twitter

Maya Oppenheim

Samuel L Jackson and Magic Johnson might be most people's idea of household names but the two high-profile individuals have been mistaken for immigrants on holiday in Tuscany.

The acclaimed Hollywood actor and retired basketball player were pictured sitting on a bench surrounded by luxury shopping bags, including Louis Vuitton and Prada, in Forte dei Marmi.

Johnson shared a photo of himself and Jackson in the popular tourist seaside town on Twitter, saying: “Sam and I chilling out on a bench yesterday in Forte dei Marmi, Italy. The fans started lining up to take pictures with us.”

The image was then widely shared on social media, with Italians assuming the pair were “migrants” and becoming outraged they had chosen to embark on an extravagant shopping spree with money from the state.

Comic actor Luca Bottura utilised one of the pictures to make a meme and start a social experiment. He shared the image alongside the caption: "Boldrini's resources in Forte dei Marmi shop at Prada with our €35. Share this picture if you are outraged.”

This was a reference to Laura Boldrini, President of the Chamber of Deputies of Italy, who has drawn fierce criticism for her progressive open migration policy.

The image quickly went viral but many wholly misunderstood Bottura’s intentions and instead expressed their “disgust” and "shame" at the two star’s extravagant shopping spree. Critics referred to the 35 euros paid by Italian citizens for accommodating refugees on EU quotas while venting their frustrations.

L'altra sera ho postato questo meme. È stato condiviso un migliaio di volte e ciulato senza citarlo infinite volte di...

Posted by Luca Bottura on Sunday, August 20, 2017

Bottura later said on Facebook: "The meme has been shared thousands of times and 40 per cent of people understood the provocation, 30 per cent were outraged and 20 per cent thought it was a racist meme and that I had failed to recognise Samuel Jackson and Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, (I will not reveal the 10 per cent)."

Nina Moric, an Italian model who is originally Croatian, voiced her anger about Jackson and Johnson, saying seeing migrants misusing "our 35 Euros" was "too much”.

Oblivious to who was in the image, one critic said: ”Nina Moric is right and this is shameful ... I am not racist, but I know there are people who really do not have money, while these wear branded clothes and relax”.

Another added: "Immigration is crushing us”.

But Ms Moric later insisted the post was also a "social experiment”. She argued it was proof of the fact people use social media to "confirm their prejudices, regardless of what the truth is. None of us are immune to this phenomenon.”

She added: “If you think migrants come here to [encamp] for €35 a day, that post will confirm it. If you think Nina Moric is a right-wing extremist, her post will confirm it.”

The Independent contacted representatives of Jackson and Johnson for comment.

Independent News Service

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