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Chris Slatter

My Blog


Quickly, bring me a nun!


The recent revelations about Il Cavaliere’s excesses have struck a bizarre note in the media.
According to trial testimony one of Berlusconi’s bunga bunga parties featured
girls dressed as nuns who entertained guests by stripping down to their underwear and
cavorting lasciviously. One of them was reportedly a minister in the government. Many will find this almost unbelievable behaviour for a prime minister to have encouraged in his home.
But this is Rome after all, a forum for authoritarian excess since historical times. The emperor Caligula believed himself to be the human manifestation of the god Zeus, beyond judgement and presumably restraint. He made his horse a senator, killed his sister and tried to eat their unborn child. His great-uncle, the emperor Tiberius, who preceded him, kept, according to the historian Suetonius, a troupe of young boys and girls in his villa in Capri. Called Spintrii, Tiberius would have them dress up as fairies and flit about so he could chase and catch them. Next to this sort of behaviour, Berlusconi and his liturgical strippers seem almost tame.
Authority and power does strange things to some people, leading one to ask if extreme behaviour is a manifestation of insanity, or something more insidious. Is there a tyrant lurking inside of each of us just awaiting a chance to stride forth? Are we restrained only by the lack of opportunity?
It’s easy to explain extreme abuse of power as insanity, but this may not be the case. Professor Anthony A. Barrett has written that Caligula was not insane, but merely driven to wantonness by his sense of self-importance. In other words, his ego.
Hollywood is one place where egos are encouraged to flourish and grow, by agents
and publicity people, minders and other assorted sycophants. An entirely artificial, you might say, imperial environment is created around the stars. Many of them respond wilfully and without restraint. If you have ever sat in on a meeting with some of these people you would have to conclude their egos have driven them close to insanity. I once baby-sat a very well-known American film and television personality during the production of a television pilot. The star’s behaviour which included nightly visits to live sex shows, violent and lurching drunkenness and habitual lateness on set threatened the production. Only by flying in his soon-to-be wife and his agent from Los Angeles was the star calmed down and the show salvaged. Nevertheless the star believed his behaviour to be beyond reproach. As far as I know, no one ever said, “You know, you’re behaving disgracefully. Stop it now.”
Certainly none of the production staff did.
Having worked in the film industry, advertising and television for a long, long time
I have seen more than my fair share of embryo tyrants, despots-in-waiting and latent oppressors. They did all have one thing in common: an unshakeable belief in their own entitlement and superiority. The problem is, they share these qualities with some of our greatest achievers and in today’s world it is, I would suggest, practically impossible to make great strides without them.

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About Me

I have been an advertising copywriter, film director, teacher of screenwriting and a television producer. I have worked for some of the world's largest advertising agencies in Australia and the UK before attending the London Film School for two years.

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