Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Italian Big Brother: Will Sarah and Veronica's love survive the media circus, asks Franca Torrano?

The words ‘big’ and ‘brother’, normally send me running but recently I stumbled across the growing and very public love affair between Sarah Nile and Veronica Ciardi on Italian Big Brother. On the face of it they are the usual publicity seeking, attention demanding BB types, behaving badly and melodramatically as they strut their beautiful stuff across the vapid scene of yet another third rate BB drama. No doubt both girls came on to the show to further their glamour careers. Superficially, their image and behaviour puts them firmly in the arena for male consumption - Sarah is a model and Playboy cover girl; Veronica leads the ‘dual life’ of a nightclub dancer and nursery teacher. But since their first public kiss on New Year’s Eve something intriguing has developed that has attracted the attention of fans and enemies alike and has taken both contestants somewhat by surprise. They have fallen in love. And via 24 hour live feeds and You Tube downloads they have played out a love story that fascinates supporters and enrages bigots in unequal measure. The growing band of fans, Italian and worldwide, has followed, 24-7, in a state of hyper anticipation for each and every next moment of Il Sogno – the dream, a living soap opera that teeters on a fine line between celebrity spectacle and grand romance.

The -large- sector of Italian society that is influenced by the triumvirate of the Vatican, the Berlusconi dominated media and the right has struggled to find its feet on this one. Used to keeping the likes of Sarah in their place, amongst the scantily clad dancers that form the background to most Italian TV, and happy to condemn the likes of Vero as loose, sexually wanton and a danger to their sons, they have battled to find the most appropriate voice for their attack. Homophobia or misogyny? A real threat to society or just another shallow Grande Fratello story that they have foolishly (and once more) allowed into their lives?

The inevitable outlet has been the daytime TV show. Against the cacophony of the audience, Sarah, evicted on 25 January, has been given the insidious opportunity to declare her sexuality and the nature of the relationship. C’mon girl, we are in Italy after all. Amore is amore, is it not? She has played it cool so far and denied them the opportunity for outright homophobia but at the same time has frustrated fans with only elusive references to a ‘a different kind of love’. In pressing the issue the (mainly female) daytime TV hosts have increasingly found themselves competing to be the first to be cool with this love between women. This unwitting and amusing outcome should perhaps not be underestimated.

On Monday, Veronica was evicted. The live transmission showed nothing of her departure once beyond the red door and she was apparently whisked away to the now standard week’s confinement to which GF subjects its torn asunder couples. By all accounts Sarah threw a true Neapolitan fit on not being allowed to see her beloved and anticipation is running high at the prospect of their first meeting on next Monday’s live show. How will GF choose to present this? Mediaset, the Italian television company behind the show, has been accused by some followers of cutting the more risqué live feeds as a form of censorship against their relationship so it is believed that they will force them to downplay the romantic nature of their love. Others believe that the producers have acted protectively towards them by preventing their more intimate scenes from being made public. The fans’ distrust of Mediaset results partly from a legal action taken against YouTube, who are now forced to pull the unstoppable downloads on a daily basis. Confusingly though, it emerges that Mediaset was involved in Viola di Mare, a film based on the (true) love story between two women in nineteenth century Sicily. So the public face of Saronica in the short term, at least for as long as the girls remain under contract, seems to be at the will of Mediaset. How this will pan out when both girls are in each other’s presence is anyone’s guess as they have reassured each other more than once that non se ne fregano, they don’t give a damn about what people think.

Given the Big Brother context of this it’s difficult to avoid cynicism. Are the girls playing the game with one eye on the mirror and the other fixed on the glamorous whirl of interviews and celebrity appearances that will follow the show? Or are their declarations of amore true, at least for now? There’s no denying that it has been fun to watch the interactions between this contrasting pair. Sarah, controlled and cool and game savvy, using her rapier wit to keep the gagging males at bay as she subtly seduces and claims for her own the sultry, fiery Veronica. And then Veronica, Vero the true, who wears her heart on her sleeve and her tattoos over her vulnerabilities and declares her love for Sarah at any and every opportunity.

The question now is can the sogno survive outside this Truman show for the senses or will it shatter beyond the protective confines of the red door? And more importantly, if the dream becomes reality will GF’s tenth season have helped remove a little bit of bigotry in the world? The fans call themselves sognatori, dreamers in support of the love between Sarah and Veronica. In this world, our world, where reality can be truly harsh for transgressors, there is still surely a vital place for dreaming.


  1. thanks for the information on this blog! I find it very interesting and entertaining! hopefully soon have updates that I love your post! I thank you too!
    buy viagra
    viagra online
    generic viagra

  2. I love them alot and they make a beautiful lovely couple! i hope their love may rest for eternal... love Vero and Sarah

    Love is Pure
    Love is for sure
    when the lovers and Vero and Sarah