Thursday, September 2, 2010

Videocracy (DVD)



DVD Review by Kam Williams

Headline: DVD Reveals Italy Prime Minister as Malevolent Despot


Silvio Berlusconi is Italy’s longest-serving Prime Minister. The key to the media mogul-turned-politician’s success lies in the fact that he not only owns all of the country’s private television networks but also controls all the state-run stations while in office.

Berlusconi made his fortune basically by behaving like Italy’s answer to Howard Stern. So you can easily imagine the sort of slime that has come to saturate the airwaves. Not only do most of the shows he produces feature half-naked women cavorting around in g-strings, but it has become the dream of most girls to grow up to appear topless on any number of demeaning programs. Typical is the competition for a highly-coveted gig on “Miss Billionaire” as a scantily-clad weather girl.

In Videocracy, a jaw-dropping documentary directed by Erik Gandini, we’re treated to the sight of women waiting in droves to audition, American Idol-style. When asked why they want to expose themselves, the typical contestant’s naïve response is that they see it as a stepping-stone to fame or to marriage to a multi-millionaire. Sadly, what has evolved is an unseemly scenario where the masses of mesmerized couch potatoes are being titillated ad nauseam while Rome burns, so to speak.

More important than its displays of misogynistic depravity is Videocracy’s earnest endeavor to issue a dire warning about the consequences of allowing both a nation’s mass media and political power to fall into the hands of one individual. For, inter alia, we learn that Silvio Berlusconi, who looks more like a mob-connected monarch than an elected official, has passed laws giving himself absolution immunity from prosecution for any corruption.

In addition, Berlusconi orders any unflattering images of himself destroyed, although he’s already the owner of every major gossip magazine, anyway. And the malevolent despot even had this film banned from Italian movie theaters, ostensibly because he is acutely aware that in an Electronic Age where image trumps substance, the key to power rests in always being able to manipulate the message without regard to the truth.

A chilling, cautionary expose’ of Orwellian dimensions.


Excellent (4 stars)


In English and Italian with subtitles.

Running time: 85 Minutes

Distributor: Kino International

DVD Extras: None.

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