Uomini uomini uomini
In a previous post I argued for the liberatory thrust in ‘Cacao meravigliao’, a carnivalesque episode of Anni 90, and by extension in the cinepanettone as a whole. My argument was constructed on the analysis of the performance of unruliness in female drag by white male Italian actors, and so begs the question: on behalf of whom is the transgression performed, and what are the costs of the transgression for other groups and identities? In the case of ‘Cacao meravigliao’, the cost seems to involve a stereotypical representation of the Other, the Brazilian ‘shemales’ whose abject, ‘composite’ bodies guarantee by contrast the unitary sex of the male protagonists. The cost for females is that they are effectively marginalized, confined to the roles of prostitute or wife, by the impersonation of unruly womanhood by men.
Trigamist Fabio Trivellone with his black family in Merry Christmas
Interview transcripts (6): parlano gli scettici (Antonangeli, Garofalo, Missaglia, Schirò, Uva)
In this sixth edited transcript from the interviews conducted by Luca Peretti and myself on the cinepanettone I excerpt the words of four members of a focus group of male university graduates aged between twenty-four and twenty-six: Riccardo Antonangeli, Damiano Garofalo, Nicola Missaglia and Enrico Schirò. As I explained to them, there were representatives for us of a certa intellighentsia who I hoped would help us to discern the substance of, and get some of the reasons for, a widespread dismissive feeling towards the cinepanettone on the part of those who consider themselves educated and culturally well-informed. The next post will be about the fans of the cinepanettone, but these are among the sceptics: I want to take seriously the perceptions of the public, sympathetic or unsympathetic, to help to understand and analyse the appeal or not of the film di Natale.
Gli scettici: Garofalo, Antonangeli, Schirò, Missaglia
Joining the four members of the focus group is the academic Christian Uva, who teaches film at Roma Tre University and who has appeared several times in this blog (see here and here). Christian is the author of the best study I’ve found of the films of Neri Parenti, in which he is brilliant on the persona of Christian De Sica (see the end of this post for details). Our conversation focussed on the ideology of the cinepanettone and on some of its formal characteristics.
Appassionati per caso: Srivastava, Uva, O’Leary
A group of tolerant level 2 Leeds students listened to my clumsy first lecture on the cinepanettone today, for the module ‘Italian Cinema: Genre and Social Change’. Here they are above, in Roger Stevens lecture theatre 16, watching an extract from Merry Christmas. I hope the lecture made up in clips for what it lacked in coherence. I was only interrupted in exasperation once - by a student from an Italian family who corrected my impression that parolacce are utterly verboten on Italian TV, even on Grande fratello. Apparently not: ‘bestemmiare’ is what gets you ejected from the House; the rest is just beeped.
In any case, I placed the lecture under the sign of Bakhtin, and tried to imagine the cinepanettone, a ‘festive’ film, as an instance of the carnivalesque. I emphasized two contradictory aspects: the ‘ritual’ character of their cinema consumption in sala, and in company, versus fan consumption at home. The film chosen was Natale sul Nilo, but I tried to discuss the filone as a whole and tried to think about the consequences that consideration of a series has for the analysis of an individual film. I compared the films to the British Carry On series - we watched the trailer from Carry on Doctor (Gerald Thomas, 1967) for a taste of the similar humour. We listened to Marco Martani talking about the different sorts of comedy packed into the big store sequence from Merry Christmas, and I pointed out how this implied a kind of multiple address for the films, something that might throw conventional aesthetics into crisis. I talked about pop songs in Vacanze di Natale and the survival of the hit of the year in the more recent ones. I linked this to the ‘cult’ and nostalgic appeal of the films. Finally, I contrasted the experience of consumption in the cinema - with the family, in couples, with friends, and with potentially contagious laughter - with home consumption, and imagined the fan constructing an anthology of favourite songs, scenes and battute on Youtube, on a fan site, or just in his or her head.