ITALIANS today showed their anger at the Costa Concordia cruise ship captain, Francesco Schettino, with t-shirts screaming "Get back on board, for ----’s sake!" and the creation of Facebook pages and Twitter hashtags.
It has come to symbolise the entire disaster – the furious command barked down a phone line by a Coast Guard official to the captain of the Costa Concordia to get back on the ship and take command of the mass evacuation.
“Get back on board, for ----’s sake,” screamed the official, Gregorio De Falco – a phrase that has now gone viral among Italians on Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.
The original Italian – “Vado a bordo, cazzo” – has even been printed on T-shirts, after millions of Italians listened to the audio recordings of the increasingly frantic entreaties given by Mr De Falco to the captain as the ship ran aground on the island of Giglio on Friday night. The apparently negligent and irresponsible behaviour of Capt Francesco Schettino – who is said to have sailed so close to the island in order to give a ‘salute’ to an old friend and as a favour for a member of his crew - has prompted intense soul-searching in Italy.
The top twitter trend in Italy is now #vadaabordocazzo.
Twitter: Tatiana de Rosnay - Priceless photo montage ! #vadaabordocazzo Pirates of the Giglio. http://t.co/bI5arq2X
While the captain has been labelled a show-off, Mr De Falco, has been hailed as a hero and the voice of reason in the whole debacle, repeatedly asking the commander what on earth he was doing by jumping into a life boat before his 4,200 passengers and crew had been evacuated.
The Italian media said the portrayal of Capt Schettino had tapped into the most familiar stereotypes of their countrymen – he was a dark-haired, sun-tanned “dare devil”, according to one ship’s officer, who drove his 114,000 tonne, 13-storey cruise liner “like a Ferrari” and telephoned his ‘Mamma’ as soon as he realised the trouble he was in.
The protagonists in the drama represented “the two faces of Italy”, the Italian media said.
“His decisive tones recalled black and white war films and comic book heroes,” La Repubblica said of the audio recordings, in which the Coast Guard officer sternly tells the captain to speak up and asks him exactly how many passengers, particularly women and children, are still on board.
“For every Schettino, there is a De Falco, thank goodness,” said one message on Twitter.