Thursday, August 14, 2008
Enough to make you (arti)choke
Ok, so we know that Italy is famous for its trashy TV, the botoxed appearance and plunging necklines of its female newsreaders, its age-defying, right wing, media oligarch prime minister and his equally surgically-enhanced wife, and the popularity of the 'velline' - the specific name given to the women employed to 'beautify' normal game shows such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and even quite serious sports discussion programmes, by prancing around half naked and smiling sweetly (but never talking, of course).
However, my opinion of Italian trash culture plummeted further still during my visit to Positano last week. Reading through the well respected, Milan-printed broadsheet Corriere della Sera, I came across two things that struck me - firstly, in the 'Culture' section, I was surprised to find listings of the latest local beauty contests alongside musings on opera and theatre.
Then I came across a gem in Italian advertising - I've seen gratuitous images of naked women selling all manner of things emblazoned onto Italian billboards, but this surpassed them all. Take a look at this advert, splashed over whole pages in the country's broadsheets at the moment. It's for Moltalbano 'Gustoparty' - a fancy sounding brand of pickled artichoke . In order to promote the savoury nibbles, a semi-naked woman has been pictured from the back as she turns her head provocatively towards the viewer. Her body is juxtaposed with a jar of the aforementioned edible product, enlarged of course. To weave some kind of link between the young woman wearing leopard print knickers and the jar of fat, green vegetables, the advertising company have imaginatively placed an artichoke tattoo on the model's right shoulder. I think the message is, that it's a 'voglia naturale' (natural desire) to eat the artichokes just as it is for a (male) reader to fancy the female model. And, I suppose, the advertisers are hoping that women readers might believe that by opting for 'Gustoparty' artichokes for their aperetivo, they might suddenly become more slender and beautiful. 'Gustoparty' literally means 'taste party', but could perhaps translate as 'party of the taste buds'. Perhaps they're suggesting that a summer festa is only complete with a semi-naked woman and a jar of carciofi. Now there's tenuous, and there's tenuous....