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TV and vulgar advertising

The case of Lino Banfi's "Porca Puttena" and the report by the MOGI: where has good taste gone? And where is the real vulgarity in advertising?

By Gianfranco Gatta

The news is that the MOIGE, the Italian Parents Movement which acts for the protection and safety of children, arrives with a forty year delay in reporting to the Institute of Advertising Self-discipline and the Minor TV Committee "the scandalous Porca Puttena" that Lino Banfi , the "grandfather of Italy", pronounces in a TV spot. Late because that phrase has been the trademark of the Apulian comedian for forty years. The Onlus motivates the complaint after "an abundant volume of reports from parents and families"; those same families and parents who with their laughter have, for decades, made the fortune of a certain grotesque and "fart-y" cinema.

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At the beginning of his career Banfi was blocked by the Rai concierge, in Viale Mazzini, by order of Massimo Fichera, then director of a newborn Rai Due innovative and aimed at young people; because he didn't think he was suitable. He has had easy career success with simple, blatantly itchy films, always playing the same type, under the banner of his porca puttena.

He got his artistic virginity back thanks to Nonno Libero, for the series of “Un medico in famiglia”, a very successful Rai Uno soap opera. His trademark entered the narrative of the this year's football EuroCup, which Italy won, thanks to Chiellini who shouted the exclamation in front of cameras all over the world.

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The vulgar joke, the swear word, the fart and the belch are "easy" means that pull the simple laugh, without much mental rumination, but which leave very little in the history of cinema. But to laugh without easy vulgarity you don't have to be Woody Allen, take a film like "Big Deal on Madonna Street", directed by Mario Monicelli 1958, where you laugh from start to finish and not even a bad word is uttered, even today when it is broadcast by some broadcaster, it is full of ratings, entertaining all generations.

There is an exception that has its own cultural dignity which is "Il Vernacoliere", a monthly satire newspaper, to be considered for the livornesi what Belli is for the Romans. The bad words are the current usage deriving from the ancient war between the Tuscan towns, especially between Pisa and Livorno; over time the war has shifted from weapons to satire, with its stinging teasing. As Mario Cardinali, editor of the newspaper, says: "Did you know how much I had to study to be able to say all these vulgarities well." And you believe him.

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Advertising creatives, as we know, take their cue from the phenomena of reality. What was the reason why a brand of pads has been broadcasting a commercial for months where any object touched is transformed into an animated uterus is incomprehensible. We have gone even further from bad taste, from D'annunzio or Dadaism. Apart from the fact that true vulgarity in advertising lies in the commodification of feelings and of pain, the question is: "Does the Institute of Advertising Self-Discipline have something to say about this?"

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But the apex of bad taste is touched in these days where you can watch a commercial of an eCommerce website, in which two adults in their forties get on a car, so not goliardic kids or incontinent elderly and you hears the loud and unmistakable noise of a fart; the driver and the two look at each other with an inquisitive but not at all disgusted air. The dog, mascot of the advertising campaign, appears and says: "Wrong company?"

What to say? We look forward to seeing a little boy throwing up Linda Blair-style in The Exorcist, to promote a drug based on Bacillus Clausil and sit at the table with a greater appetite. These are creative satisfactions!

In conclusion, paraphrasing Manzoni: "Those who don't have good taste can't give it to themselves".



Credit Images: screenshoot from Tim Vision's spot on