Critical Social Theory and Cultural Commentary

Friday, 17 December 2010

Berlusconi and Media Asymmetry

Silvio Berlusconi... the man is a caricature of himself, a stereotype of the reactionary, robber-baron, arch-bastard villain of the left. His hero is Napoleon Bonaparte (yes, he even bought his bed), he's been involved in just about every scandal and gaffe possible, yet still managed to hold on to power thanks in no small part to his control of the country's media and judiciary, as well as 'allegedly' buying off the legislature in this weeks crucial vote, after his own followers had finally grown sick of his antics. His chosen tactic of survival at present involves picking off (some would dare say 'buying') members of opposition parties and attempting to co-opt them into his government, whilst appealing to the need for 'strong government' to remedy the economic instability that the PM and his cronies have helped create; benefitting as ever from the chaos that the Italian electoral system throws up. Whilst the outside world seems to have a morbid fascination in seeing just how long he can actually last in the face of mounting popular revulsion towards him, the reality for Italians (and 'others' living in Italy) is very different. Italian politics is portrayed by the rest of the world's media as a joke and decidedly inferior due to the inherent character flaws of the Italian male, exemplified by Berlusconi. Thankfully, they got some revenge when a twitter feed being displayed on giant TV screens at the EU summit in Brussels was hijacked today, with 'tweets' of abuse from Italian users labelling him a 'Mafioso' and a 'Paedophile'. In an environment when politicians and businessmen seem to be increasingly impervious to any kind of rational criticism it pays to remind them just how we really feel, and make their lives as uncomfortable as possible, something that established media are unable and unwilling to do given their corporate ties. It therefore falls to forms of new media to provide a tool with which an alternative political discourse can be disseminated. Of course what I have in mind hear is something a little more high-brow than simply throwing abuse at Berlusconi, as fun as that may be. The video below by David Harvey is the best example I've come across of a new media presentation that seeks to portray a complex political message (the financial crisis and Marxist critique of capitalism) in an accessible and easy to understand manner.

N.B: For anyone interested further in the Berlusconi phenomenon, here's a recording of an interesting lecture by Stephen Gundle called, 'Berlusconi in Historical Perspective'.

No comments:

Post a Comment