La RAI, Radiotelevisione italiana, ha compiuto nel 2014 sessant’anni, avendo inaugurato ufficialmente le trasmissioni il 3 gennaio 1954. Un compleanno che coincide con quello dell’arrivo della tv in Italia. Sessant’anni di storia sono molti, moltissimi se rapportati al calendario della tecnologia. In poco meno di un decennio, grazie ai media digitali, a Internet, la tv ha subito un cambiamento radicale: il passaggio dal tradizionale segnale analogico a quello digitale, per esempio, ha generato nuove dinamiche di fruizione e l’emersione di nuovi immaginari sospesi, come sempre accade, tra l’euforia della scoperta «magica» e il terrore di possibili effetti negativi. Ma per oltre mezzo secolo, la tv è stata il medium egemone del ‘900 e ha svolto un preciso ruolo sociale, alimentando un’esperienza tanto diffusa quanto condivisa per gli spettatori, riassumibile nella semplice espressione: «guardare la tv». Per molto tempo, dunque, guardare la tv è stato come guardare un nuovo mondo, una scoperta di inestimabile valore. Se si vuole provare capire cosa rappresentino sessant’anni di tv, è necessario affrontare la storia del medium abbandonando un filtro che a lungo ha accompagnato il dibattito storiografico sul piccolo schermo: quello della nostalgia. A lungo, l’età del monopolio RAI è stata interpretata come una sorta di età dell’oro, includendo nel suo “canone storico” solo alcuni generi e prodotti dominanti: lo sceneggiato, i programmi educativi e culturali, i grandi varietà di studio. L’archeologia della tv deve però solo farci capire le caratteristiche essenziali della storia del medium in Italia senza mai piegarsi a un filtro interpretativo nostalgico.
I saggi contenuti nel numero 1/2015 Sixty Years of Italian TV. The Medium’s Past and Future (curato da Aldo Grasso) dialogano con i sessant’anni di vita della televisione italiana illuminando in una prospettiva di storia culturale alcune questioni che hanno assunto una rilevanza cruciale nel direzionare il rapido percorso di istituzionalizzazione del piccolo schermo in Italia e poi alcune delle sue principali successive trasformazioni, tenendo in considerazione i diversi livelli intrecciati che, in ognuna delle sue fasi storiche, definiscono il medium (per esempio la programmazione, le visioni ideali della dirigenza, il rapporto con il pubblico televisivo, il sistema economico.
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Television as a project. The relation between public service broadcasting and Italian historical cultures (1954-1994)
In his recent book, Jerome Bourdon has clearly showed that the ideal type of the “public service” is underlain by different conceptions, perspectives and visions. To understand how this concept, and more generally the “idea of television”, manifests itself in Italy, it is essential to start from the cultures that have a vision of “public service”, and of television itself, and that seek to turn this vision into something concrete. Looking at the first four decades of Italian television history, we can identify two driving forces, that also offer two ways to interpret and relate to the television medium. I refer to them as “control” and “project”. “Control” (control over television) is a continuous attitude that permeates the historical cultures in their approach to television. By “project”, I mean the development of a vision that is broader and richer than the simple concern for “control” but that shares with it the need to “channel” the explosive power of TV to reflect ideal or “ideological” needs, in line with the cultures that these projects have articulated. The essay looks at the period from the 1950s (with the advent of television) to the late 80s and early 90s, pointing out how the different historical cultures have tried both to exert influence and control and to develop specific projects on television.
Unidentified foreign objects. The difficult path of US sitcoms into Italian TV schedules
The essay traces the history of US sitcom genre on Italian television, highlighting the different stages that have occurred across the 60 years of its development: the failed stunt of I Love Lucy and the subsequent disappearance of the genre in the Sixties; the shaping of US sitcoms as programming mainly intended for children and teenagers, with titles as Happy Days becoming part of tv dei ragazzi in the middle of the Seventies; the abundance of half-hour series on commercial television and their consequent reappearance on PSB across the Eighties; the ‘Italianization’ process that has affected many shows in the Nineties; lastly, the diffusion and dispersion of sitcoms in contemporary multichannel scenario. Building on the basis of the historical work on both situation comedy and Italian television, this contribution aims to connect the ‘double history’ of the genre in the two countries, articulated through direct reflections and big distortions, and to highlight as well the ‘mediation’ role of both the destination culture and the Italian TV and media system. The analysis of such a marginal phenomenon could nevertheless provide useful insights on the dynamics of circulation and adaptation of TV products, genres and imaginaries, and put into spotlight the ideas, pre-comprehensions and working habits of the national television industry and the tastes, needs and expectations of the audience, which are both culturally and historically grounded.
The hearth of our times: RAI and the domestication of Italian television in the 1950s
When the Italian television started its regular programming, in January 1954, only a few of its spectators could appreciate the brand new experience of viewing in the cosiness of their homes. In the early stage of the medium, different cultures of television viewing coexisted in Italy for a relatively long period, and the model of collective consumption rooted in public spaces (such as bars, movie theatres, Catholic associations, and political circles) was largely dominant, due to economic issues (the high-price of the technical device), and cultural bias over the new medium, often considered dangerous and dodgy for the stability of the family and the privacy of the domestic life. This paper is aimed to outline the role assumed by the Italian Public Service Broadcasting (RAI) in contrasting the affirmation of a public culture of viewing, stimulating instead the construction of the television as a domestic medium in the stage of its institutionalisation, which lasted approximately until the beginning of the Sixties. Considering a wide array of historical sources (first RAI’s advertising and public campaigns, house organs and leaflets, public speeches of RAI’s first managers), the paper will show how the RAI was deeply interested in promoting a wide diffusion of the TV sets in the private domestic context, in order to maximise the economic profit coming from the license associated to the possession of the set and thus providing economic resources for programming and broadcasting. RAI’s major effort was intended to reassure the Italian citizens, presenting the television set as a harmless device that could enhance the comforts of the modern home in the social context of the Post-War economic boom.
The history of food within the history of Italian television
The observation of the current television programming prompts an investigation on the abundance of food and nutrition topics. In the scientific field, these topics can be placed at the intersection of disciplines and studies which focus on the anthropological and sociological fields. Our analysis aims at investigating TV cookery programming through the identification of formats, genres and texts following the development of television, from its origins to the latest programmes, together with the relationships with the net, the employment of impersonal international formats and typical Italian programmes and their cultural approach. Our investigation, resulted from a research carried out during the course of History of Radio and Television at Università Cattolica of Brescia, consisted in a diachronic analysis of the history of Italian television and suggests an interpretation of the current trends in cookery programming, which resulted to be deeply rooted inside tradition.
Integral awareness and the formal cause in Marshall McLuhan
This essay aims to shed some light on formal cause as a unifying element in McLuhan’s work, namely as the ‘ground’ against which the forefront of his main ideas on media and society do emerge. Formal cause, as a totality anticipating the effects and the single parts, lies at the core of McLuhan’s holistic approach, which appears to be intimately rooted in his Catholicism.
Illusions of immediacy, possibilities of voice. In this short article, Nick Couldry analyses Hall’s neglected early work on media and its account of how ideology is reproduced through the everyday workings of media institutions. The contribution traces the importance of that work through later work on the mythical aspects of media institutions (Couldry) and more recent work on the culture of connectivity (Van Dijck) and its appopriation of the social in the form of social media platforms.
Communication and the social production of knowledge. A ‘new contract’ for the ‘society of individuals’
The current chaotic and disordered social systems are undergoing a (critical) phase of change marked by the advent of an interconnected economy, an economy which is calling to attention certain questions regarding the issue of citizenship. Under discussion are the new opportunities for emancipation offered by the widespread knowledge which is fuelling the networks of protection and social promotion. The links of interdependence and interconnection are intensifying, even if some observers continue to hypothesize the possible end of the social bond. The old industrial model consisting of consolidated orders, hierarchies, logics of control and closure to change seems on the point of being broken by the new knowledge ecosystem. On the other hand, we are living in an age increasingly marked by the fragmentation of the systems of belonging and belief ‒ the real producers of individual and collective identity ‒ and by the consequent affirmation of individual and utilitarian values. This is a sort of “tyranny of the individual” which presents itself as a real centrifugal force capable of corroding the ties within the social system and thus testing their resilience. This process of progressive weakening and flaking away finds further confirmation in the widespread deficit of social and political participation, which is itself fuelled by a climate of general mistrust towards all the (formal and informal) institutions that used to be the sole agencies responsible for the transmission of value and knowledge guidance systems. The thesis that we shall therefore seek to discuss is the following: the individualism dominant in our social systems is the result – to some extent the inevitable result ‒ of a process/project of emancipation that has been brought forward in the course of modernity. This process of emancipation, first of the masses, then of the Subject, has, on the one hand, increased the spheres of freedom and led to the recognition of certain fundamental rights (at least on a theoretical level); on the other hand, it has contributed to the weakening of the ties and bonds of belonging to a Community.
A partire da Grillo: un potere carismatico per il Web?
Beppe Grillo: a charismatic leader for the Web? The article will analyze the resurfacing of charismatic power through the Web 2.0, by paying attention to the rise of Beppe Grillo as a political leader. By focusing on both the historical side – the evolution of Italian public opinion and the spread of cyclical cascades – and the structural one – namely, the power law organization of the blogosphere, likely to promote a huge concentration of authority – the article will discuss the extent to which the case of Grillo can tell us something about the future evolution of the Web and its power configurations.
Nella contemporaneità del teatro. Note su Robert Carsen regista di “Don Giovanni”
In the Presentness of Theatre: Notes on Robert Carsen directing the “Don Juan” The figure of famous Canadian director Robert Carsen is set in the framework of the international opera renewal that, starting the 1980s, was produced by the increased relevance taken on by staging and, in particular, by the systematic contribution of theatre directors. This paper highlights the technical, practical and creative resources that Carsen considers essential to his work and that seem to be perfectly exemplified through a theatrological analysis of some scenes from his Mozart’s Don Giovanni, staged in Milan at Teatro alla Scala in 2011. The paper refers, in particular, to the narrative and acting processes, found in the libretto, that constitute the basis for the singers’ performance, to the principles that regulate the construction of characters, to the special function of scenography in revealing their sentiments, to the reflexive investigations on theatre-withintheatre, to the important role assigned to the spectator. Through these, Carsen seems to achieve an aesthetics of representation capable to grant him with a creative and responsible directorial freedom while respecting the strict necessities of the libretto and the music.
The RAI, Radiotelevisione italiana, turned sixty in 2014, having officially started broadcasting on 3 January 1954. That day, TV arrived in Italy. Sixty years of history is a great deal, a very great deal in technological timescales. In just under a decade, digital media and the Internet have changed TV radically. The articles in CS issue no. 1/2015 "Sixty Years of Italian TV. The Medium’s Past and Future" (edited by Aldo Grasso) discuss Italian television’s sixty-year history from a cultural-history perspective, illuminating several questions that have become crucially important in directing the rapid process of institutionalizing the small screen in Italy and then some of its main subsequent changes.