Monday, 18 October 2010

Fratelli d’Italia pt. 2

Striscia la Notizia StudiosImage by marcoPapale.com via FlickrPart 2: we shift to television, as I said before. 
  • TV Debates Generally - I already mentioned politicians arguing on televisions, but they're certainly not the only ones. On Striscia la Notizia they frequently draw attention to the phenomenon with a sort of chart called I Nuovi Mostri ("The New Monsters" - I believe it's a nod to something rather more cultural) where they basically run through the people who've made arses of themselves on TV in various ways during the week. Some people seem to get invited onto TV shows specifically to argue - if you didn't know that Berlusconi was behind Italian TV you might suspect Jeremy Kyle had something to do with it. The thing I really don't understand is the lack of intervention by TV presenters. There's a certain naivete about it all: when someone, either in the audience or properly in front of the cameras, is shouting over the top of someone else, so that the whole spectacle has become entirely farcical, a presenter might implore some dignity, a bit of calm, but the idiot somehow retains use of the microphone. Note to Italian TV people: when you take a microphone away from someone, it makes them harder to hear. Thank you.
  • Repetitive, Crap TV - The most obvious criticism that you can make about Italian TV is that it's lousy. I generally get told at this point that English TV isn't up to much at the minute, plus, you have to stay up later than I do to watch the good stuff. Fair enough. Bad television isn't strange in itself: what I'm curious about is the way in which it is bad. There's a spectacular lack of variety: a good number of programmes are on every working day, such as Renegade (old, American, shit, ugly protagonists with bad clothes) and Squadra Speciale Cobra 11 (silly German series about a special branch of the traffic police with implausible storylines and obligatory scene with cars exploding on the Autobahn - Monica reserves a special scorn for Germany's contribution to Italian TV). There are also programmes on every day which aren't bad, but there's simply no need to repeat  them, such as The Simpsons ('Woo-hoo!' = "Mitico!" btw) and Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, which even runs on Saturday I think - basically, you can tell that it's the day of rest when even Gerry Scotti isn't on the idiot box. I was recently reminded of the extraordinary fact that the Mayans (before the Spanish decided to destroy their civilisation) believed that the sun would cease to rise if they ceased to offer human sacrifices. One wonders how such a situation could arise, but I suppose you start small. Perhaps in 100 years, Italians will believe that the sun will not set if they neglect to broadcast Striscia every single day of the week including Sunday (or Veline/Velone/Paperissima to appease the god of the summer hiatus), as is their current practise.
  • Films on really late - More of the same scheduling madness. Again, I am penalised for my early nights, but it seems a bit over the top to me. Some of the best films that I see in the terrestrial schedules begin at somewhere around 11:30, whereas the lousy ones (Big Mama is on at a watchable time this evening, for example) get the primetime slots. The way I see it, the films must cost the channel the same amount no matter when they broadcast them, though the revenue from advertising must be higher before midnight. So isn't it in their own interest to give us the best films in the evening, and the bollocks at night?
  • Veline
    Apparently there was a feminist movement in Italy once. This explains why there is civil divorce and legal abortion. However, I frequently wonder what happened to all the feminists; there's still rather a lot of work to do. I allude in this instance to the veline, properly speaking a feature of Striscia, but representative of Italian TV in general. With varying degrees of sobriety, there are a lot of women on TV whose only purpose is to act as eye-candy. Striscia's veline, as the wikipedia article says "perform short dance breaks or stacchetti, always finishing up on the news anchors’ desk. They usually perform in swim-suits or tank tops and sing pop tunes as they dance." They do nothing else, except for the strange style of staged publicity that they have here for the shows' sponsors. Apparently the veline are meant to be a parody of the bimbos (strange use of Italian by us by the way - a bimbo is a male child) but I don't buy that story for a minute. Now, I have an ambivalent relationship with feminism (if you were to use the term "feminist literary theory" for example, I would immediately feel contempt) but I'd feel happier if they came back and addressed this outrageous affront to the dignity of women. As I say, this phenomenon exhibits itself with varying degrees of class: the most crass examples I'm aware of would be Ciao Darwin and Chiambretti Night, which I can't watch and the most tasteful Che Tempo Che Fa. But the last example is perhaps the most depressing, because it's a good programme, but they employ this completely superfluous Scandinavian woman. She may be elegant, she may have a reasonable amount of clothes on, but she's still purely decorative.
Update: I received, in response to the last part, a link to a documentary on the subject. And I see that there's even an English version.
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