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San Remo, or Italy at its best

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There is (at least) one week every year in which everything is put on hold, in Italy, and the entire country focuses on one specific event: the Sanremo Music Festival.

It’s a 5 day-singing competition, where basically people sing songs, a jury gives votes, each day someone is excluded, and eventually one wins. Normally, the songs are cheesy and boring. One of the boring songs wins the festival; there is a separate category for the “Young Promises”, with its own winner. Sometimes good singers have come up from the Festival (one being, for example, Alex Baroni – whom I really liked and who, sadly, died a few years ago). On the downside, the Festival has given to the world Andrea Bocelli.

The weeks before the Festival are characterised by a build-up of national thrilling about what the guests will be, who will present the show, who will do what, who will say what, and sometimes even who will sing what. There is normally a standard structure: the presenter is a man, a popular face from TV or music. Then there are two co-presenters, one at his left and one at his right: these are, by rules, mega-hot women with a (recent) past of being sluts or similar. The Festival has just started and will run until the 18th of February. This year’s and last year’s team was the same: presenter, the man, the famous singer from the 60s, Gianni Morandi; left wing, Elisabetta Canalis, famous for being Goerge Clooney’s date for a while; and Belen Rodriguez, famous for having long legs.

Here’s a group picture:

Morandi is the one in the middle.

Being at its 60th-something edition, there is some concern that the attachment of the Italian population to the festival might decrease. So, the authors have devised a series of cunning strategies to attract a bigger audience.

This was the most successful one, which took place on the first night of the Festival. Enters one of the co-presenters, Belen Rodriguez:

Yes, you may want to zoom in.

The day after this show, the Vatican expressed harsh criticisms.

The target was a man called Adriano Celentano. A guest of the Festival, during the show he publicly called for people to stop reading L’Avvenire, the Vatican’s newspaper. The Bishops commented that Celentano’s comment was inappropriate, and that he should not appear again at the following nights of the Festival.

Immediately after that, an executive of RAI, the Italian national TV channel that hosts the Festival, and who has an interest in getting as big an audience as possible, joined the Vatican’s condemnation, pointing out that Celentano’s language “was unsuitable for public service”.

More songs, and more vaginas, to come in the next two days.

Written by TheItalianist

17/02/2012 at 14:30

The Right to Be Forgotten

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The Italian Government is always working hard to improve and polish the legal system, so to facilitate the pursuit of justice and to free citizens from the shackles of bureaucracy. This time, the Northern League, who prides itself of having, among its members, the Minister for Legislative Simplification, has come up with yet another valuable law to protect citizens’ interest.

The proposal, advanced for the second time after a first, failed attempt in 2009, aims to protect “the right to oblivion”. It comes from another fine politician in the Northern League, Miss. Carolina Lussana. This is Carolina Lussana:

The picture portrays her altruism at work. During a vote in the House of Chambers, she is pressing not only her own button,  but also that of someone who does not participate in the vote. Some would say that what she is doing is illegal: however, as I explain below, the right to oblivion will guarantee that this picture will be removed shortly in the near future. So look at it until you can.

Carolina Lussana is concerned with a great anomaly of the Internet: when someone commits a crime, it is possible, years later, for people to find out about that. Hence, she is now fighting so to guarantee that, after a certain amount of time, the information (texts and images) about someone’s crimes will not be accessible anymore by the public.

The core of the argument is the following:

Some people, let’s face it, violate the law. Some, as it happens, pay for their crimes. After they’ve done so, if one keeps talking about those crimes, he or she violates their privacy. If, to give an absurd example, a man corrupts a politician to win a contract, and he is then condemned, then how could one justifiably look him up on the internet, years later, to find out about his past crime? We need to limit the access to this kind of information, so to limit the “suffering of the person who committed the crime, and of his family”.

Carolina Lussana highlights the dangers looming behind technical advancement: “Before the advent of the Internet, the echo of one’s judiciary happenings disappeared reasonably soon, as soon as the interest of the local and national press for that particular fact had gone down. Yet, nowadays, any fact can remain forever on the web, unless the webmaster intervenes to remove it.”

She argues that the left-over of one’s illegal deeds ought to be removed from the internet within a time that varies according to the crime committed. Thos who refuse to forget others’ crime, and keep information about them on their website, will incur a fine between 5,000 and 100,000 euros.

The story, in Italian, can be found here

Written by TheItalianist

12/04/2011 at 05:45

Miracles happen on TV

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Judges do not have an easy life in Italy. Italians do not like judges, because they are communists, hence they eat babies, they boil babies, they want to bring down the country, and probably they are gay. In the attempt to reestablish the feeling between people and the judiciary, the Italian channel Canale 5, owned by the Italian Prime Minister, has hosted for years a famous Tv programme called Forum.

Forum showcases a series of charismatic individuals. For example, the sadly missed policeman Pasquale Africano. This is Pasquale:

After years acting as a policeman, Africano gave a twist to his career and acted as a model in a user-friendly edition of the Kamasutra:

Yes , that’s him.

Also very charismatic was His Honour Santi Licheri

and the blondie anchorwoman Maria Rita Dalla Chiesa, daughter of General Carlo Alberto Dalla Chiesa, killed by the Mafia in 1982.

This is the great team that Canale 5 has put together to bring back the glory of the trial and the judge. Every afternoon, the audience can see the exciting cases and have a closer look at how the trial works, or at least how it should work.

A clear example of how the trial should work was showed in the episode on last week. A dark-haired woman, Marina Villa, appeared at the trial to discuss with the judge the terms of her divorce from Gualtiero, her husband. As she explains, she makes and sells wedding dresses in L’Aquila, the city in central Italy which, exactly two years ago, was destroyed by a 6.0 degree earthquake.

 

When asked to talk, she explained that in L’Aquila, two years after the quake, everything was going great: “L’Aquila has been rebuilt” -she said, though no one had asked her, “there are houses with garden and garage”, “Life is back to normal”. And, she adds, as a key element in her divorce suit, “This is all thanks to the Prime Minister”. “And do not forget to thank Bertolaso as well” -echoed Rita DallaChiesa. The audience clapped hands in jubilation. Remember Bertolaso?

A few days later, the woman confessed she had been reciting a script given her by the authors of Forum, who paid her 300 euros to do that. She was not even from L’Aquila, and  Gualtiero was not her real husband. He was acting too, and paid for that.

 

Written by TheItalianist

06/04/2011 at 07:52

Posted in Italian TV

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The Body of the Women

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I have disregarded the blog in the last two weeks –  apologies to myself for this.

During this time, things didn’t stop happening in Italy. The Vatican has been at the centre of some stories, some polemics, which nonetheless it successfully rejected in its usually moderate, though still strongly persuasive, way.

In the face of accusations that represent, obviously, nothing more than another attempted coup in Italy, it is important to defend what the Vatican does to protect the catholic values and to ensure that their integrity be not compromised. In an ever-expanding and multicultural society, the Vatican’s function is, to use the Pope’s own slang, a cardinal one.

It is in this spirit that a documentary was presented in Italy last year, about the role of the woman in the Italian culture. This documentary, titled “Il Corpo Delle Donne” (“The Body of the Women”), seeks to give evidence that the catholic values are still thriving in Italy, mainly because of the vigilant presence of the Vatican, that keeps an eye on what goes on TV at dinner time, on Sunday afternoon, etc., basically in those moments when families (the Family!) gather around the table and in front of the TV, thanking God for this food and this TV news.

The documentary is subtitled in English. It lasts 25 minutes. Please watch it, and let me and/or the Pope know what you think about it.

Il Corpo Delle Donne

Written by TheItalianist

16/04/2010 at 14:37

Italian Drama on a Remote Island

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A large part of today’s news focuses on one of Italy’s current main concerns, the reality Tv-show Isola dei Famosi. It is true that Italy is also worried about the possibility of a coup d’état. However, for many democratically-aware Italian citizens, the Isola is more important. After that, Italians care about their own values.

Imagine what  happens, then, when these two key elements of Italian life get head-to-head. This, apparently, occurred two days ago in L’Isola dei Famosi. I have to underline ‘apparently’, because I did not actually watch it, though I was able to read about it profusely, thanks to the almighty Italian media.

A reminder of what the Isola is about can be found here. Basically, a group of VIP persons are placed on some island, and they have to survive. The fun bit seems to be that they, being VIP, are used to a certain level of facilities and cosmetics that, we assume, will not be available on the remote island on which they are cast together with their TV troupe. The dramatic images of famous VIP actresses/models/dancers deprived of their make-up, and of VIP muscular men who can’t shave their chests, keep over 4.5 million people in front of the TV. Apparently, the Isola has the magic effect of making the VIP women look like this:

 

These VIP ladies are Loredana Lecciso and Tracy Fraddosio, btw.

A couple of days ago, one of the VIPs on the island allegedly freaked out. Nothing strange, that happens quite often, and in fact it’s probably in the script (ops, did I say that?) The deranged hero is Aldo Busi, a VIP writer who, for some reasons, is not as famous for his books as much as for his provocative behaviour on TV, where he abundantly appears. This may not be surprising, given that one of his last literary achievements is a VIP pamphlet titled One needs balls to get it in his ass (Bisogna avere I coglioni per prenderlo in culo). This the Aldo:

 

As with the ladies above, the Isola turned him into something else:

Yesterday, Busi said “enough!” with the Isola, and clearly stated -in front of 4.5 million devoted citizens– that he was tired of being the scapegoat of the group, and probably sick of being sourrounded by progressively uglier VIP people. It is not known (to me, at least) what brought the VIP rage on the island.  Yet, in declaring that he was going to quit the Isola, Busi criticised homophobia. May homophobia  be the cause of this unshaved breakdown?? – we all wonder.

Busi is a declared homosexual, and the title of the pamphlet above might suggest he is quite open about it. He might have felt targeted by offensive comments by other VIPs on the island:  this might have led him, understandably, to the extreme act. I have found his final speech on the internet, which reveals Aldo’s literary value (my translation, free but faithful):

My contract is finished, exhausted. There is no story anymore. I am afraid that, if I were to stay here, I would win. I have taken part in this for a sort of resigned melancholy. I want to offer the example of the old man who steps aside. I would find it humiliating, for me, to win this little race. (…) I am not part of the kind of people who are on this island.”

So far, so good. High drama, strong emotions, unshaved people – it’s the Isola at its best. Yet, Busi then moved on to a different level when he focused on one person in particular, one who has ascended to the status of VIP by being the adopted son of a gay-icon, the singer Renato Zero. This is Renato Zero:

 

Zero is not married (gays don’t really get a chance in Italy, do they), yet he has somewhat managed to adopt the guy in question, some dude called Roberto. Again, I miss some crucial details about how this could have happened. Nevertheless, the presence of Roberto onthe island triggered  Busi’s attack against Italy’s homophobia: “The reason why I am attacked is because I am anticlerical. Because I say that the real problem of our society is not the homosexual, is the homophobe. Those are the sick, the perverted ones, whether they are politicians or priests. (ouch.. careful Aldo..) But one cannot say these things on TV. In a few moments, this camera will switch off, and I’ll disappear.” Cool stuff, probably better than his books. 

Yet, at some point Aldo got carried away, and pointed at the Pope as the main homophobe.

This is the Pope:

 

“Don’t say that, Aldo!”- you can see him gesture..

That was the end of the story. In fact, as we all know no one fucks with the Jesus. Thus, today the RAI, the National TV channel that proudly broadcasts the Isola, issued a statement, condemning Busi to yet another exile, this time not on TV but from TV. Busi has been banned by all RAI programmes, forever, due to “breach of contract”.

How did he breach thye contract? Given that Busi has a tendency to yell, swear, smash things and offend anyone anytime he goes on TV, (and that this is probably the reason why they put him on the island), he must have said something particular, on this occasion, to ‘breach the contract’.

Any hint?

Politicians followed quickly to support RAI’s decision mainly from the Right. The Right, as we know, is the one more attached to moral values. Apparently lots from the Right fall within those 4.5 million people mentioned above. They all promptly expressed anything from “despise” to “disconcert”at Busi’s immoral attack to the Holy Father (see above). Not even  VIPs can offend the Pope!

Ah, Aldo.. How can you offend the Pope? How can you call him homophobe?? The Pope is the symbol of morality. He loves everyone. Everyone loves the Pope.

 Go back to your VIP pamphlets, Aldo. And write them in silence

Written by TheItalianist

19/03/2010 at 00:53

Minzolini, The Halved Editor

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Augusto Minzolini is the editor of the news on the Italian channel RAI 1,the principal channel on Italian TV. Hence, the principal TV news programme. TG1 is what families always watch during dinner: back home after a hard day at work, they can finally relax and enjoy a good home-made meal, while being informed on what happens in the world. It is the main channel of TV information in Italy, at least in terms of audience size.

Minzolini was elected for this role on 20th May 2009, after a career in journalism and cinema. The latter reveals he is at ease when appearing on the TV screen: as we will see, that has turned out to be the key quality in his role as editor. Regarding the former, Minzolini is famous for having  introduced a new journalistic style, allegedly labelled ‘minzolinismo’

Minzolinismo relies on “collecting ‘informal’ statements from politicians without checking over their validity”. One may be slightly reluctant to define this ‘a journalistic style’: it would be a bit like introducing a style of cooking that relies on throwing random stuff in a pot, and boiling it for a certain amount of time, then serving it into leather shoes.

Anyway, one should not ask too many questions. Furthermore, this may well be a case of a genius, one who revolutionizes an entrenched tradition by violating the accepted rules. Actually, it must be so: otherwise, why would they elect him director of the main TV News programme?

This is Augusto Minzolini:

Once he became editor of TG1, he exported his minzolinistic approch also to the world of editing. As applied to TV journalism,  minzolinism is characterised by the use of direct-to-camera editorials. What happens is that at some point during the TV news, the flashy head of Minzolini appears on the screen and takes over. For about 2-3 minutes, the director expresses his thoughts about one the central issues in the Italian news. This raises a couple of questions: 1) How can his head be so flashy? What is it made of? 2) Why the editorial? Why does the director of the public news channel need to step in and tell the audience what he thinks the right answer is?

Rather, it seems appropriate for him to remain in the background, to define the editorial line –for sure- yet not acting himself as a journalist. He can certainly express his views, but he may well do that on other occasions than on the news he directs. News programmes are to report facts, not to tell people how to understand the facts. Hence, here is Mizolini’s innovative contribution: minzolinismo means that the deus ex machina can also appear and talk.

On the day he took office at the TG1, Minzolini made his first appearance on the screen to explain his manifesto. His goal -he stated- would have been ‘to deal with the real life of the people’, and ‘to make the audience not just an audience, but also a co-editor’. Rightly so. Unfortunately, he then pushed the ‘real life of the people’ line too far, by claimed that the accusations against the Italian PM, that so much spice gave to our last summer, were pathetic. This immediately posed problems to the minzolinic directing style.

In fact, as it happens to all the geniuses, the world was not ready yet to receive minzolinismo. So a few days later, the TG1 was widely criticised for not reporting anything at all regarding the aforementioned scandals: the news were all about football, sun, and holidays. Minzolini gave his explanation, in one of his direct-to-camera editorials, by confirming that what he intended to do was to talk about what really is important, not the stupid gossip of journalists that enjoy throwing mud at respectable people.

In October, a huge protest took place in Rome in defence of press freedom, after Governamental decisions against some overly-critical journalists. During TG1, an even flashier Minzolini appeared on the screen, to make it clear that he found that protest ‘incomprehensible’, and that Italy enjoyed the highest level of freedom of expression. The fact that he was expressing himself freely on TV was the sign of this.

Pure art.

Nevertheless, criticisms of his style increased. Bu so did also the frequency with which he flashily defended his mission. On 11th December, during a trial, the mafia turncoat Gaspare Spatuzza mentioned alleged connections between the Mafia and the actual Government. On the same day, Minzolini appeared on the news (again, the public news), just to clarify that Spatuzza’s claims were “bullshit which contributed to damaging the image of Italy”.

A few days later, on the 14th, Berlusconi was hit in the face by an object thrown at him by a protester. Minzolini commented, in one of his stylish editorials, that criticisms of the PM had created a ‘climate of hatred that is leading to civil war.’ It was time to stop, once and for all, to criticise the PM. Enjoy your meal.

The new year did not bring better luck to Minzolini’s attempt to innovate the art of directing the news. A big polemic followed the decision of Milan’s mayor, LetiziaMoratti, to entitle a street to Bettino Craxi, as part of a broader attempt to rehabilitate the memory of one of the most corrupted politicians of the 80-90s. Minzolini then performed again. In one of his editorials, he defined Craxi “a great statesman”. According to Minzo, Craxi had been turned into the scapegoat of a system that had resisted after the Cold War. He had been a great statesman, and it was now time to look at him “with history’s eyes”. Unfortunately, once again the world was not ready for this, and Minzolini was accused of serving the PM’s desire to rehabilitate the image of a politician with whom he had shared so much. This is Bettino Craxi in an old picture (on the right, with a friend):

 

The story continues. In his effort to tell the audience/co-editor about the Government’s performance, the editor of the public news directed his team to show how well things are going in L’Aquila, the city in central Italy struck by a powerful earthquake in April 2009. The PM had made it clear from the beginning that the Government would have made every effort to help the population of L’Aquila: together with the Head of the Civil Protection, Guido Bertolaso, he set out to rebuild central Italy. Thus, the TG1 regularly showed reports of happy people, new houses, politicians’ promising/accomplishing things, order returning, etc.

Sadly, that did not seem to have captured entirely what is happening in L’Aquila. When, later, a troupe of TG1 went to L’Aquila again, an angry mob attacked them and sent them away, yelling “Go away, scondinzolini!” The term ‘scodinzolini’ seems to be a mixture of the aforementioned ‘minzolini’, and of the verb ‘scodinzolare’, wagging. Look where the attempt to make his audience also co-editor took him: the angry mob had clearly misunderstood Minzo’s attempt to report on ‘what people really care about’, for him wagging the tail at the PM.

There have been many more episodes, in which Minzolini has employed his style towards a precise and efficient News service. Even more, though, has been the ostracism he’s had to face from those who are against his pioneering approach. In fact, a few days ago, phone tappings have been revealed in which, allegedly, the Italian PM calls Minzolini to tell him what he has to say in the TG1. It is alleged that in these phone calls, the PM calls Minzolini “direttorissimo” (“super-editor”).  

 

Faithful to his style, Minzolini reacted to this attack to his style yesterday, during the news on the public channel, claiming “they (who?) want to shut my mouth. They want a ‘halved editor. But I will not be a halved-editor”.

However, his head looked vaguely less flashy.

Written by TheItalianist

15/03/2010 at 00:56