An Italian talent show is facing heavy criticism after a segment in which a woman is incessantly groped and man-handled as a bizarre joke.
Contestant Emma Marrone appeared on the TV show Amici di Maria De Filippi to sing a solo vocal piece. The disturbing "prank" consisted of a backup dancer putting his hands all over Marrone as she struggled through the performance.
Judges can be seen cackling as the pervy dude grabs her butt, chest, and waist as the clearly uncomfortable contestant attempts to sing while simultaneously pushing the creep off of her.
The Lad Bible has further details, including a translation of exchange between Marrone and the judges, which can be seen in the full clip below.
She can then be heard telling staff: "I don't want to be a prude - but when he touches me so much, I can't sing. This isn't dancing." She ends up pushing the 'dancer' to the ground and gets set to storm off stage.
It was at this point the show's producer admitted that the thing was a prank.
The program gave Marrone an award after airing the clip. While accepting it, she said: "In that moment, I felt very strong emotions."
After the clip was aired on Monday night campaigners launched a petition to introduce new media guidelines regarding sexual violence - it's already picked up over 17,000 signatures.
In a country like Italy, affected by high levels of femicide and violence against women, the mass media is contributing to a dangerous culture.
"As well as affecting the singer, a 'joke' like this affects all victims of violence and abuse, making them believe that abuse is normal - so normal, in fact, that we should laugh about it."
The show's host, Maria de Filippi, has responded to the backlash unapologetically, saying, "If some people think that the joke was sexual assault, that means the world has turned upside down. I don't think that anyone who is even slightly rational could think such a thing."
Funny, because we don't see how any "slightly rational" person would think that watching a woman getting straight-up molested for two full minutes makes for good television. But what do we know?