RAI not?

4 11 2008

Please don’t make me watch Affari tuoi anymore

 

Basta!

One of the most irritating things about living in Italy is having to pay for the so-called abbonamento RAI, the obbligatory and expensive television licence. It’s not just that the programmes are bad (and they are) but there’s so little value for money. There are very few original programmes for children, the rare examples of cultural programming are put on after midnight in August, and the three networks are dominated by inane shows with dancing girls and screaming C-list celebrities.

Another example of RAI entertainment I can do without is Affari tuoi, the Italian equivalent of Deal or No Deal. Like such classics as Grande fratello, Isola dei famosi, and La talpa, it’s a format our creatively challenged pals from RAI have bought from abroad and then left to fester and putrefy on air over a number of years.

For those of you who are lucky enough not to have seen it, Affari tuoi is a quiz show without the quiz. They open the boxes and people win money, without having to demonstrate any personal ability or knowledge. The sole challenge the contestants face is whether to keep the package up until the end of the programme, when they win the value of the contents, or exchange it for a cash offer along the way.

To keep it interesting, since it’s not their money, the producers continue to raise the levels of the prizes. But even winning €500,000 has got boring, since it’s on 7 nights a week. So they try and garnish the stale entertainment with ever more absurd antics from the hosts and contestants.

The only time Affari tuoi is entertaining is when the contestants take the first decent offer to give up their package. Instead of handing over the prize and calling in a new contestant, the hosts recriminate with the person who has taken the early offer for an half hour or so. From what I’ve gathered, however, the best strategy is to accept the offer, even though (or because) it destroys what little entertainment value the show had.

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Eminflex: Italy’s Favourite Infomercial

6 07 2008

With constant tv advertising, sooner or later everyone succumbs

Expert counsellors know that there are five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Like many people living in Italy, foreign and native, I have went through these stages in relation to the omnipresent mattress producer Eminflex. When you watch television here, never a pretty sight, it is impossible to miss the televendite (infomercials) for the company, promising extraordinary beds at bargain prices complete with fantastic accessories like pillows, sheets, bedspreads, frames, and headboards. Especially in the morning, as the following you tube video shows, it is common for almost every channel to be simultaneously devoted to celebrating the unique qualities of the company’s products and the incredible generosity of its special limited offers.

Resistance is futile

Given that Eminflex’s epic televendite tend to interrupt programs for five or ten minutes at a time, unlike conventional 30 second tv commercials, this means that local couch potatoes end up enduring several hours of bed and pillow talk every month. While the most logical response would be to turn off the set, people tend to begin to take a perverse pleasure in the sheer crassness of the shrill and repetitive advertising copy and, after a certain point, find themselves phoning the friendly operators standing by to take their orders.

Yes I have an Eminflex bed (I also have some really bad neck and back pain at the moment but that is surely just a coincidence). When we ordered our letto matrimoniale (the largest Italian bed size), the special offer was two separate luxury bed spreads of silk and cashmere that could be attached together. The various fading stars shilling for Eminflex every morning raved about the generosity of the company’s decision to give away such exclusive products with what was already the top value bed on the market. We were confused therefore to find that the only bed spreads we received along with our mattress were two very ordinary looking Chinese made polyester versions. After a quick call to customer service, where my wife was told that “everyone asks where the cashmere and silk are,” we discovered that the precious materials were hidden away inside the lining of the bed spreads

Call now!