In my opinion, television is stronger than all this, and I’m afraid that its mediation will end up being everything. The power wants us to talk in a certain way, and it’s in that way that workers talk as soon as they leave the familiar or dialectal everyday world in extinction. All over the world, what you want from on high is stronger than what comes from below, there is no word that a worker says in a speech that is not wanted from on high.
Everything is presented as if inside a protective envelope, with the detachment of the didactic tone in which you discuss something that has already happened, maybe recently, but happened, which the eye of the wise man or whoever for him contemplates in its reassuring objectivity, in the mechanism that almost serenely and almost without real difficulties produced it. Actually, nothing substantial divides the press releases of TV from those of the similar fascist radio communication, the important thing is that anything less than reassuring never reveals.
The petty bourgeois ideal of quiet and respectable life — families must not have misfortunes — is projected as a kind of relentless fury in all television programs and in every fold of them. All this excludes viewers from any political participation, as at the fascist time. There are those who think for them. And they are men without spot, without fear and without difficulties, even casual and bodily.
From all this, a climate of terror arises. I clearly see the terror in the eyes of interviewers and official respondents. A word of scandal mustn’t be pronounced. Practically a word, somehow true, cannot be pronounced.
I say it sincerely, I don’t consider anything more ferocious than trivial television.
Pier Paolo Pasolini
from ’70s writings and articles
“Television,” Pasolini claimed “is not only a place through which messages pass, but it is a message processing center. It is the place where a mentality, that otherwise you would not know where to place, becomes concrete. It is through the spirit of television that the spirit of the new power is concretely manifested”. It is a “mass medium” which enslaves itself to the mass of viewers “to enslave them”, that is to impose on them “lightness, superficiality, ignorance, vanity”, as models of “an obligatory human condition”. Especially in the last years of his life, Pasolini examined the forms of conditioning exercised by the “criminal stupidity of television” in the language and forms of communication adopted by the Italians, discovering the forms of a process of profound and irreversible transformation of culture and society where diversity was canceled and replaced by “false and alienating values”.
In fact, Pasolini never refused television a priori, on the contrary he imagined and made some movies intended for television screens and participated in various television programs. But among his utopias there was the idea of a different and “other” television: “I do not claim that these media are negative in themselves,” he said. “I do indeed agree that they could be a great tool for cultural progress, but so far they have been, as they have used them, a means of appalling regression, of development without progress, of cultural genocide for at least two thirds of Italians”.