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July 30, 2014
Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Tinelli shows muscle on primetime TV comeback

Television show host Marcelo Tinelli (left) embraces Channel 13 executive and actor Adrián Suar during the airing of the opening programme of Showmatch on Monday night.
By Lorenzo Miquel
Herald Staff
Showmatch host takes a swipe at politicians, TV execs with veiled humour

In a massive display of power, Marcelo Tinelli made several heavy-toned remarks under the mask of humour. No stones were left unturned as he made ironic comments about his past ties with Cabinet Chief Jorge Capitanich and the national government. Tinelli was at the same time more benevolent with BA province Governor Daniel Scioli and anti-Kirchnerite congressman Sergio Massa.

The debut of Showmatch on Monday night marked the return of one of Argentina’s most recognized TV faces, and featured many over-the-top musical numbers, a parody of 2009’s movie Hangover, Martín Bossi’s impressions and even Canal 13’s executives Adrián Suar and Pablo Codevila’s presence in the studio. But Tinelli’s political comments were definitely the stars of the evening.

Preceded by a recording showing shaky bottoms at the Valle de la Luna and surrounded by protruding cleavage, Tinelli gave an opening speech in which he targeted his producer, Federico Hoppe, on numerous times. In a remarkable passive-aggressive manner, he stressed the importance of having a peaceful year, with no politics involved.

Of course, politics got involved. But Tinelli washed his hands epically by transferring all political responsibility to his producers, “I left this in their hands, Fede [Hoppe] and El Chato [Prada]. It’s your responsibility.” Moments after this first mention, he whipped one of his first political comments while talking about the show’s enormous imported screens, remarking that “the most incredible thing is that they are inside the country, they weren’t left outside.”

Tinelli had mostly stayed away from the traumatic conflict between the national government and media giant Clarín, started in 2008. The popular host and producer had joined Canal 13 in 2006, and two years later the Kirchners and Clarín ended their unsigned coexistence agreement, opening a high-voltage war still being waged. However, Tinelli resisted both joining Clarín’s aggressive strategy and to react to Kirchnerite offensives. A political satire included in Showmatch in 2009 was seen as a clear boost to opposition candidates, such as the Conservative peronist Francisco de Narváez, who won the mid-term election in BA province, but months later the anchor lent his support to CFK’s reelection in 2011.

Tinelli condensed much of his political views during one of his monologues on Monday night. For instance, he referred to the government’s dollar-buying restrictions when he said that “I travelled a lot last year, it was fine, the only problem we had was with dollars. Between Guille’s (Valdés) children and mine we ended up being 12 and they gave us 30 dollars for the whole group.” He was just getting started; some minutes later he mentioned the fallout between the government and himself at the beginning of the year. “In January, my whole life changed when Capitanich called me. He told me, ‘It’s Coqui, professor. Come over, I need you.’ So I went to a pinkish kind of house, […] he called me ‘professor’ a lot, I started thinking I was a teacher. ‘Bring me a logo,’ he told me. ‘You have absolute freedom,’ but it seems that I lack the experience for making logos,” Tinelli said. “One day, just as El Chueco stopped calling me, the one who called me ‘professor’ stopped returning my calls. I understood that the ‘freedom’ was merely to make suggestions; we started being left behind […] until one day, siamo fuori de la copa.”

But for every political comment, there was a subsequent anti-political claim, as Tinelli doesn’t “want any kind of trouble.” Suggesting he has the power to anoint or to overthrow a president, he said that “I don’t want them to do what De la Rúa did to me. One day, he told me, ‘because of you, they kicked me out.’ He, who was one of the best presidents, one of the most capable, told me it was I who kicked him out. And he was right. Maybe we, through our satire, eclipsed the awesome capacity that president had. I don’t want that to happen.”

Later on, in reference to Gran Cuñado, the show’s trademark political satire, he added that he doesn’t want people to think that “because I say ‘lica alicate’ that person wins (an election) because of me… Let’s check name by name what you — the producers — want to do. I don’t want this to be a problem for me. Because it will be a matter of state”. Later on, he leaked Daniel Scioli as one of this year’s satires.

Tinelli made fun of Suar’s alleged “abandonment” of him on numerous occasions during sketches and speeches. A remarkably poker faced Suar looked straight at the camera every time it focused on him. Seemingly joking, yet enraged, Tinelli also harshly lambasted Suar for taking down his sign at Canal 13. Almost indirectly, he made Suar apologize for that, a tense wave that El Chueco surfed with a photographic smile. In spite of Suar’s explanations, Tinelli repeatedly shot his gun at Suar’s feet, like a media cowboy, just to watch him dance.

One could argue that the show was like an enormous power-struggle. Truth be told, there was no struggle here. Just a power display. Like a reverenced dictator, Tinelli showed everyone what he is capable of; absolute media mastery, condensed in a single individual. Just another side of politics — under the tender and ambiguous label of entertainment.

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