Italian television is perhaps the clearest indication that there is something seriously wrong in this society. When you watch it you realize that this cannot be the product of a healthy and vibrant country. It has to be some of the worst shit I have ever seen.
The problem is not so much awful television, which every country has to put up with in one form or another, the problem is that these are the national channels, the stuff that everyone watches, and they watch it in their millions!
Everything is a variation on the theme of variety shows, where the old favourites are wheeled out to sing, dance, and reminisce for hours and hours (literally) on end. These will be interspersed with interludes where semi-naked girls will do a little boogie boogie, which the presenter will dutifully praise (without a hint of irony). I remember when I saw a political satire, a sort of a cross between 'Have I got News for You' and 'Spitting Image' without the dolls and without the teeth, and I thought finally, something a little bit more serious. What happens next? There is an ad break, but instead of cutting from the studio, the presenters reappear IN THE STUDIO with the products that are paying for the programme (in this case I think it was Lavazza). Next, more naked girls come out to do a little boogie boogie, and we go back to political satire. I swear I'm not making this up.
Of course if you are looking for news, you can forget it. The whole thing is sewn up by Berlusconi and his people. And that's is not a cliché or an urban myth, it really is like that here. A channel called 'La7" is the best, owned by a consortium of concerned citizens, they have good political discussion, news, and they show good films etc.
All of this is so ironic considering Italy's history, its very strong intellectual left-wing traditions, far more serious that we have in the UK (Ireland doesn't even count, we don't know what the right and the left is: you are just Republican or something else).
The only thing that I can watch without feeling physically sick is MTV Italia! That and Magnum PI translated keep me going here.