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Archives for Politics

From Politics to Reality Show: A Career Change?

Aug
5
2008

The twists and turns of Italian politics rival any nighttime soap: one minute you’re Europe’s first transgender parliamentarian, the next you’re getting an extreme wax to prepare for a reality show.
That’s the trajectory of Vladimir Luxuria, former Communist Refoundation representative, ousted from government — along with the rest of the party — and now preparing to star in September in Italy’s version of Celebrity Survivor! (Called, un-catchily, Isola dei Famosi” or Famous People’s Island in Italian).
Apparently, this is what happens when remote control is the only power left. Back when Luxuria was elected in 2006, hopes were high that Italian politics might be taking a change for the better, in part because after a record five-year tenure, Silvio Berlusconi was out.
Now Berlusconi is back. The communists, for the first time in Italy’s post-war history, are out of the government.
Luxuria has said that catching fish with her hands on a small Honduras isle won’t be any more of a reality show than the televised arguments about just who gets to use the parliamentary little girl’s room.
It is difficult to argue with her, especially since, as far as I know, her other newsmaking moments while in government mostly had to do with some depressing plastic surgery and not her tenure on the Culture, Science and Education commission.
Her party mates see her post-parliament choice a little differently. Politics never take a break in Italy, summer recess is partly spent in powerhouse pow-wows in vacation spots to choose or reconfirm leaders and refine strategies for the upcoming season.
The communists have their hammer and sickle knickers in a bit of a twist, understandably. Just as they were trying to figure out how to get back in power at the national congress in Tuscan spa spot Chianciano Terme, it “leaked out” that Luxuria was trading it all in for a sun, sand and videotape, plus the equivalent of about 300 years salary of the average proletariat.
There’s a special hell for this kind of discussion, whether you believe in the Inferno or not. While they were squabbling over a new leader — even the winning faction got just 40% of the votes — news outlets were more interested in Luxuria’s career change.
Alas, Italian politicians will have to come up with some other gimmick to keep citizens tuned in. And the Vintage Nipplegate scandal probably won’t do it.

Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 2:38 PM | Permalink

Italy’s “Pimped” Premier

Jul
1
2008

Italy’s Premier Silvio Berlusconi has wasted no time during his second tenure getting the press to notice him. It does seem unfortunate that he mostly seems to do this by buffoonery, rather than policy.
Among the more serious charges: running what must be an awfully threadbare casting couch.
Phone taps
have him intervening on behalf of talent-free starlets, trying to finagle them into acting parts in state broadcaster RAI’s already overburdened melodramas. (Full disclosure: I worked for a couple of years as a journalist at Canale 5, the flagship station of Mediaset, founded by Berlusconi but at the time already run by his children. There were a few instances where, thanks to family connections or nudges, someone got a job, but probably not more than in big media anywhere.)
Following his outrage at having to be questioned by magistrates on weekends instead of “enjoying his houses, children and wife” he quickly moved to limit the powers of courts to touch his double-breasted tranquility.
Outraged opposition member Antonio Di Pietro, ex-”Clean Hands” prosecutor, with his usual bulldog delicacy called Berlusconi a “pimp,” and when prompted to apologize to the premier, he refused on grounds that both he and the Italian people were owed an apology for this unstatesman-like behavior.
An accusation not helped by the fact that Berlusconi, always trying to be noticed, launched another fashion faux paus by covering his spray-hair with a jaunty white Panama hat. It’s a look that, paired with a black shirt, says go-and-brush-your-shoulders-off as eloquently as anything could.
Recently, I had the chance to chat with a People of Liberty party flack. When I tried to sympathize with her over it must be like to deal with his big tent behavior, she replied, snidely, that he does it on purpose. It’s all an act, to provoke the press (foreign press especially) and laugh along as they laugh at him. Whatever. I’m not getting the joke.

Posted by Nicole Martinelli at 12:33 PM | Permalink

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