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Canale 5 in prank furore
Italian media are more often attracting criticism from the public. This might be due to an increased awareness of sexism and violence towards women, a much discussed problem in the last years.
This time the centre of polemics was a “prank” shown on an Italian talent show, which caused the indignation of many people and the reaction of an organisation campaigning against sexual violence. The organisation called for Italy's politicians to introduce comprehensive ethical guidelines for media.
Nothing new if we consider that only last month, Italy's state broadcaster RAI was forced to apologise for a program exploring relationships between Italian men and Eastern European women, suggesting that Eastern European women were better because "always sexy" and "perfect housewives".
According to Cristiana De Lia, one of the activists behind the petition, Italy is affected by high levels of femicide and violence against women, and the mass media is contributing to a dangerous sexist culture.
The prank, broadcast on Italy's Canale 5, involved a backing dancer groping the Italian singer Emma Marrone during show rehearsals.
Marrone was visibly uncomfortable, repeatedly asking the dancer to stop pressing up against her, rubbing her thighs and kissing her. The dancer continued to touch her erotically. Marrone tried to explain to one of the technical assistants that she couldn't sing if the dancer touched her like that. He continued so she screamed and pushed him away with such force that he fell on the floor. Only at that point the producers revealed that the episode had been a "prank”.
Women's rights organisation “Non una di meno” tweeted "Sexual violence is never something to laugh at!", while other social media users defined the prank as "disgusting".
The prank received widespread media coverage. Many publications suggested that Marrone had overreacted. “Il Corriere della Sera”, Italy's most widely read newspaper, appeared to minimise the incident.
A presenter from the satirical show “Striscia La Notizia”, Valerio Staffelli, defined the prank as "the funniest joke of the year" and presented Marrone with the “Tapiro d'oro”, an award given by its presenters each week to the best prank victim.
“La Malafemmina”, a group which campaigns against gendered violence, set up a petition calling for those involved in the prank to resign, and for Italy's politicians to create ethical codes for TV programmes to prevent future incidents of the same kind. Just in a few days, it had received more than 1,500 signatures. “La malafemmina" movement commented that the prank was made during the rehearsal of “Amici di Maria De Filippo”, whose public is predominantly made up of young people who shouldn't be exposed to the promotion of sexism.