Home > In review > In review: Videocracy (2009)

In review: Videocracy (2009)

There’s a scene about 15 minutes into” Videocracy” that sums up the whole movie and both the media landscape and country it’s about. Around 15 to 20 dames from some Italian provincial town are auditioning to be “veline”, the uniquely Italian showgirl variant hired to perform short dances to link scenes on entertainment shows and never talk. So they’re getting their grind on, humping the air, showing off their tramp stamps and looking for all the world like they’re about to fall onto Antonio Cassano’s cock at any given moment. Except they’re not doing this in a closed-off TV studio, they’re doing it in public, in a run-down shopping mall where the crowd consists mainly of four-year-olds and dudes that look like Alisher Usmanov salivating.

“Videocracy” is a movie about how the rise to power of Silvio Berlusconi was teed up by the man himself irrevocably altering the Italian cultural landscape forever. So you know the dude owns the three largest commercial TV stations, 90% of the printed media, 1990s football team AC Milan and a whole other heap of shit. You should also be aware that Italy is an utterly doomed nation that is now officially a worse place to live than fucking Equatorial Guinea. So this movie attempts to look at how the two relate.

It… works. Sort of. There’s always a problem here that any argument is going to boil down to “everything was much better in the olden days when we were all more intelligent”, which in the case of Italy would be a fetishisation of the times when Topo Gigio ruled the roost. So director/narrator Erik Gandini doesn’t make any real argument and just focuses instead on three case studies.

The first is of a 26-year-old called Riccardo, who notes that Ricky Martin can’t do martial arts and Jean Claude Van Damme can’t sing, but he can combine the best of both men in order to get on television. Still living with his mother (who notes to camera that he’s never had a girlfriend), Riccardo has beef with women who would rather sleep with TV stars than with men who, like him, work on a lathe all day. Riccardo is seen right at the end, after apparently 12 years of martial arts training and performing in local bars, getting three nos in the auditions for Italian X-Factor.

Lele Mora is one of Italy’s premier showbiz agents who lives in an all-white house while wearing all-white attire, like some crazy sort of pre-bankruptcy Scott Storch. However, Storch was probably never eager to show off his collection of Benito Mussolini videos, speeches and fascist hymns on his Nokia phone to the audience, unlike Mora. Mora is apparently a close friend of Berlusconi, who he describes as a “great man, but not as good as Mussolini”. Mora throws endless parties for former Big Brother contestants who sit around smoking and playing the acoustic guitar in 37 degree heat, possibly indicating that the portal to hell has opened in his back garden.

Fabrizio Corona is the star of the movie though, a paparazzi who doesn’t take photos and rarely sells anything to magazines, instead preferring to orchestrate photographer traffic and extort money from the celebrity subject directly so they don’t get embarrassed (one of his photos, face of victim obscured, does appear to be of Francesco Totti cat bathing some lass on the edge of a swimming pool).

The last half of the movie is very much the rise and fall of Corona, from man rhapsodising into the camera about why he hates celebrities and footballers (“they don’t want people like us”) and referring to himself as a “modern day Robin Hood”, through to his celebritydom after going to prison on extortion charges and re-emergence as an Italia media figure du jour (complete with E10,000 a shot appearances at nightclubs and his own brand of cologne), through to him back at the bottom of the celebrity barrel again and making E20,000 for making photos of Berlusconi’s daughter disappear. Corona himself is a pretty captivating presence, Mauro Camoranesi by way of Andy Garcia, and he alternates between periods of full-on informed self-awareness (one of the car rides back from a disco appearance at the latter end of his fame has him talking about how superficial Italy is as a nation) and complete unawareness (his willingness to be filmed pulling Jesus Christ poses and applying aftershave to his dick).

The film ends with Berlusconi’s grinning face close-up to camera, and while the man himself says very little over the course of the 80 minutes, his fingers are on absolutely every life shown here, every decision made by these three characters, and everything they both set out to achieve and secretly fear will happen. Gandini mentions that Berlusconi’s first major hit was a TV show where masked housewives would remove an item of clothing for every correct answer a contestant got. 30 years later, and we’re even more fucked than Greece. Congratulations to all concerned.

  1. June 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    cheer up bro, gan world cup as championz yer? ingland int got that

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