ROME Reuters - When it comes to political satire, Italians like theirs hot — with buxom women in mini-skirts and low-cut tops dancing as cameras zoom in on their breasts and long legs. A woman dances during a contest to choose two new 'Veline', scantily clad showgirls, for an Italian television program in Norcia June 18, More than 5, women in Italy applied for the two slots up for grabs — one reserved for a blonde, the other a brunette — with raucous auditions held in packed town squares across the country before throngs of beaming parents and onlookers. Its portrayal of women aside, for critics the showgirl format is more worrying for what it says about Italian television. Program-makers say they are satirizing TV journalism, and some defend showgirls over violent shows. Their seductive jigs are paired with investigative reports into scams and spoofs of both right- and left-wing politicians and celebrities. A top prime-time show itself, it owes much of its success to its saucy veline — whose name stems from the sheets of paper handed out by Fascist-era news censors. Internet or satellite TV and competitors like Telecom Italia remain much smaller players. Lilli Gruber, an Italian anchorwoman and war correspondent whose no-nonsense style made her a symbol of quality TV, says the popularity of showgirls is emblematic of the outdated expectations and the second-rung status of women in Italy.
Nudity has become a staple of television in Channel 4 has been the biggest culprit of them all. So, to what extent is this latest wave of programming doing just that? Two Channel 4 programmes in particular in the past two months involve nakedness as a basic premise: Life Stripped Bare , which asked participants to attempt to live a normal life with no belongings, including no clothes, and Naked Attraction , which is basically full-frontal Take Me Out. Both have generated their fair share of intrigue and outrage. Naked Attraction garnered 45 complaints to Ofcom , and a whole lot more online. A poignant exploration of human vulnerability, if you will. Can meeting someone balls-first and bullshit-free serve as an intimate introduction, leading to a deeper connection?
Italian television is traditionally better known for variety shows than world-beating reality formats. In a reversal of the typical first-date scenario, the show asks two strangers who are meeting for the first time to undress each other and get into bed. The pair then spends 30 minutes lounging in their underwear as a big-screen TV asks questions and assigns various tasks designed to foster intimacy. At the end, they must decide to stay in bed or make an exit. The reality TV twist? The idea was not the only selling point. The spartan studio set-up of a bed, a screen and two people meant the format could be produced and adapted inexpensively. Finding people wiling to get nearly naked on camera was the big challenge for Magnolia at the outset.