Ah, bellissimo – belligerant belladonnas bearing news

First published in SMH in 2002

Bring on the hair-flicking, frowns and flirting, says Julie Ihle. It’s a sure-fire way of educating us all in current affairs.

Every day, at 6.55am on SBS, a woman with straight, white-blonde hair, a movie-star pout and an open-necked shirt that looks as though it has been put on in too much of a hurry flicks her hair, flirts and frowns aggressively at the camera, while making love to it.

The show is the syndicated Italian World News, Telegiornale, and it’s the sort of TV viewing that is, well, very Italian. There is not a chair in sight, so the newsreader is standing up, and she does not even seem to be reading the news from the autocue. It’s more like an aggressive conversation, bordering on an argument. There’s the belligerent hissing of vowels, there are frowns, there are violent hand movements gesturing to the next story, there’s a sly grin just when you’re not expecting it and there’s the long, blonde hair and clothes that look as though she didn’t spend last night at home.

It’s all in Italian so I don’t understand a thing, but I presume it’s all real. There are pictures of Dubya and the Middle East, so I guess it’s at least vaguely current. But, in a sense, you don’t really watch it for the news. The mode of delivery makes it more like entertainment TV and, for 6.55am, that’s no mean feat.

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