Too bad it turns out that Tatsumi is an aggressive, self-centered, and outspoken homophobe.
A former advertising executive at Unilever, the year-old studied dance and acting and knows her way around the world of television. After living in Munich and Paris, Zanardo returned to Italy and was shocked when she saw the roles being played by women in public: Zanardo quickly learned that even turning off the TV didn't do any good. So, for three months, she recorded everything that Canale 5, Rete 4 and the state-owned RAI channels had to offer in terms of entertainment programming.
She edited the material together to make a documentary film with a spirited narration. Three million Italians have already seen the film, "Il Corpo delle donne" "Women's Bodies" , which is now available online in several languages. It is practically a horror film, an attack on the Berlusconi system using his own weapons: Foreigners who have seen the film, Zanardo says, always ask the same question: Why don't you fight back? On an afternoon in early November, Zanardo is sitting with teachers and students at a school in Milan, showing her film.
There is an awkward silence in the room. In the film, women in garter belts loll about on a table surrounded by middle-aged men, in a segment from a news roundup show called "Striscia la notizia" "The News Slithers" , which has been airing in a prime-time slot for the last 23 years.
Both the women and the men are silly and in good spirits. But only the men are wearing clothes and speaking. When women have something to say on Italian television -- for example, as newscasters, in talk shows or in reports on the Mafia and the garbage in Naples -- they usually speak through grotesquely pumped up lips below noses perfectly angled by plastic surgery. They all look alike, and they all obey the same command: Appearance is what counts, and the body has to be perfect, at least if Berlusconi -- with his own facelifts and hair transplants -- has any say in the matter.
Almost all of the films Zanardo used in her documentary are reminiscent of porn films. Italian prime-time television is nothing but a parade of buttocks and breasts, with cameras zooming in between women's thighs as they walk up the stairs, as they stand under the shower until you can see through their clothes and as they ride surf boards in miniskirts that force them to twist and bend over to avoid falling off. And then they are asked why they have once again left their brains at home.
The most horrifying segment of Zanardo's film shows a starlet hanging from a meat hook with a butcher stamping an expiration date onto her bare buttocks. The scene, which appeared on the show "Scherzi a parte" "All Joking Aside" , has become branded into the collective Italian memory.
After this scene, as the teachers in the Milan school wipe tears from their eyes, the students fidget in their chairs in shameful silence. It's not like these images are anything new to them. Tetsuhiro Morinaga is in love with his upperclassman Souichi Tatsumi. He even manages to confess his love. Too bad it turns out that Tatsumi is an aggressive, self-centered, and outspoken homophobe. The experience has a life-changing effect on both men.
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