Silvio Berlusconi, the Prime Minister of Italy, can been seen naked in this painting, dallying with Mara Carfagna, a female minister, whom he once said he would like to marry. (It's his face and hers on the torsos.)
His ex-girl friend, Mara, is currently one the leaders of a huge protest --thousands of angry Italian women. Silvio's not only shaping the way Italy sees women, but also affecting how women -- young and old -- see themselves. An entire generation has grown up in a society where Silvio's wild "bunga-bunga" parties, and soft-core porn -- are part of the daily news.
It’s been 23 years since Berlusconi introduced voluptuous women, known as "veline" -- literally “scraps of paper” -- parading through the news and the commercials. Almost all television in Italy ( 95% of it) is under his control. Showgirls and actresses appointed by Berlusconi have official positions in the government.
Polls show that Italian girls are dreaming of becoming TV veline -- not doctors, lawyers, or business owners.
Will Berlusconi be ousted? He's the Western world's and Europe's richest head of government, and can buy, apparently, whatever support he needs. The opposition party keeps saying he won't win again, but they said that four years ago.
Meanwhile, since the beginning of April, Silvio has been on trial. He's charged with paying for sex with an underage prostitute. Aspiring Italian starlets and actor George Clooney are being called to make appearances. Silvio's facing 15 years, using his influence to win a not guilty verdict.
And while the trial show is going on at a huge cost to taxpayers, ( about 70,000 Euros or $93, 000 dollars), Berlusconi's slashing millions of Euros from the Italy's arts and heritage budget as parts of Pompeii are crumbling into dust.
Silvio loves art. A 6 ft-high statue of Mars, created around AD 175, on loan from a museum, stands next to a similarly proportioned statue of Venus that's displayed in Palazzo Chigi, Mr. Berlusconi's office in central Rome.
The prime minster has had the marble Mars rebuilt, so that its snapped-off penis has been replaced by the new penis that's fitted with a magnet. Since the museum replaced the arms and hands on the statues, the penis can be easily replaced if, in the future, Silvio or the museum decide to undertake further restoration.
History books say that penises were often hacked off ancient Roman statues, either as souvenirs or out of prudishness. The Bunga-bunga guy who dearly loves works of art, is obviously not prudish when it comes to any part of anyone's private parts. Everywhere, on street corners and in the news, for the more than a month, Silvio's latest girl friend's crotch is on display.
Yes we've got our troubles with celebrities and politicians spouting nonsense, but gee -- I wouldn't want to be in Italy, watching TV, with my future tied to the jury's verdict for the bunga-bunga, art-loving Berlusoconi.