Newsweek, “Il Paese del bunga-bunga“:
It’s 8:30 p.m., and all eyes turn to Italy’s most popular satirical news program, Striscia la Notizia (Strip the News). Two middle-aged men stand under a strobe light, one of them holding a belt from which dangles a vaguely phallic string of garlic. A woman slides across the floor on her stomach, wearing a sequined costume with a thong bottom and a deep-V neckline that plunges below her navel. As she stands up, one of the men dangles the garlic in front of her open mouth. She takes it in her hands and rubs it across the side of her face. “Go, turn around, let’s give you a little look,” the other man says, and touches the model’s derrière. “Thank you, doll.”
That’s how prime time is in Italy. The parade of prurience is inescapable, an expression of the rot that’s now manifest at the very top of the Italian government, a reflection of the society’s deeper problem with the evolving role of women. While headlines tell an endless tale of teenage models, paid escorts, and Moroccan belly dancers cavorting with 74-year-old Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, the media make it clear that men are men, and women are window dressing. Boycotts, protests, and even complaints are rare, and when they’re voiced, few listen. So while Berlusconi may well be acting like a dirty old man these days, it has to be said that a goodly number of Italian women have been willing to play his demeaning games for a long time.