Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Le « torchecul* » de Guargantua

In 2002, during a visit in Bulgaria, Italian PM Berlusconi mentioned three TV figures - two journalists and one comic (E. Biagi, M. Santoro and D. Luttazzi, respectively) - that were 'making criminal use' of public television. Meaning they were too vocally critical of him. All three disappeared from public television (RAI) briefly after that. This episode came to be known in Italy as the Bulgarian Edict (editto bulgaro It.)

Michele Santoro returned as a host on Italian TV only in September 2006.
Mr. Biagi died in November 2007, after long legal quarrels with RAI.
The last of the three, Daniele Luttazzi, got back on TV screen with a show called Decameron, on La7, the only non-Berlusconi national private channel in Italy.

Decameron was censured last week. Discontinued. Stopped. By the TV channel Director, this time. La7 removed all the Decameron videos from Youtube and apparently intended to destroy all the copies of the show, even those not broadcast yet. Why? Luttazzi had ridiculed a journalist friend of Berlusconi (and supporter of the Iraq war) who hosts a daily talk show on the same channel. He had made 'irresponsible use' of the artistic freedom granted to him in his contract (sic!), La7 claims.


Now, these are lewd words. What was I thinking? How come I laughed like crazy at such vulgarity? Such bad taste of me, to be enjoying such shows! This is my public mea culpa. I am ashamed of myself and am going back to the classics of satire for a good taste laugh. Hmmm. ..Maybe Rabelais?

Rabelais, Gargantua, 1534

Chap. 13
Comment Grandgousier congneut l'esperit merveilleux de Gargantua à l'invention d'un torchecul.

....A ce Gargantua fEist response qu'il y avoit donné tel ordre qu'en tout le pays n'estoit guarson plus nect que luy.
"Comment cela ? dist Grandgousier.
- J'ay (respondit Gargantua) par longue et curieuse experience inventé un moyen de me torcher le cul, le plus seigneurial, le plus excellent, le plus expedient que jamais feut veu.
- Quel ? dict Grandgousier.
Comme vous le raconteray (dist Gargantua) presentement.
"Je me torchay une foys d'un cachelet de velours de une damoiselle, et le trouvay bon, car la mollice de sa soye me causoit au fondement une volupté bien grande ;
"une aultre foys d'un chapron d'ycelles, et feut de mesmes ;
"une aultre foys d'un cache coul ;
"une aultre foys des aureillettes de satin cramoysi, mais[...]
concluent, je dys et mantiens qu'il n'y a tel torchecul que d'un oyzon bien duveté, pourveu qu'on luy tienne la teste entre les jambes. Et m'en croyez sus mon honneur. Car vous sentez au trou du cul une voluptémirificque, tant par la doulceur d'icelluy dumet que par la chaleur temperée de l'oizon laquelle facilement est communicquée au boyau culier et aultres intestines, jusques à venir à la region du cueur et du cerveau. Et ne pensez que la beatitude des heroes et semi dieux, qui sont par les Champs Elysiens, soit en leur asphodele, ou ambrosie, ou nectar, comme disent ces vieilles ycy. Elle est (scelon mon opinion) en ce qu'ilz se torchent le cul d'un oyzon, et telle est l'opinion de Maistre Jehan d'Escosse. "

This humorous, right? Still, doesn't it make one wonder whether a nowadays' reputable publisher would print it? Or would it be also considered a form of "irresponsible use of artistic freedom"?

"Ridicule is a distinct kind of expression; its substance cannot be repackaged in a less offensive rhetorical form without expressing something very different from what was intended." Indeed, Prof. Dworkin!

The latest Luttazzi case is a very example of private censorship. In a country with a plurality of visual media, this would have been no tragedy at all. The 2,000,000 viewers would have simply followed him to another channel. Unfortunately, the only other national Italian channels are Mr. Berlusconi's (Mediaset) and the public RAI channels, politically controlled. Now, where can he possibly go?

*a torchecul is an asswipe.

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