Black Women of Brazil

The site dedicated to Brazilian women of African descent

TV network validates protests of activists against its controversial program; and what of the prominent “house negroes” that supported it?


Graffiti: "Globo TV racist". Signs: "Sexo e as negas doesn't represent me". Left to right bottom: creator and stars of the TV series

Graffiti: “Globo TV racist”. Signs: “Sexo e as negas doesn’t represent me/us”. Left to right bottom: creator and stars of the TV series

Note from BW of Brazil: The controversial television series Sexo e as Nêgas has now aired its third episode. The program which has provoked outrage and repudiation on the part of black women activists placed Afro-Brazilians in a opposition to a segment of the population who have a vested interest in supporting the show: black elites and/or those blacks whose livelihood may depend on their positioning on the matter. Before we delve into that issue, we must report another interesting piece of news about the show that many have critiqued as weak and stereotypical.

Sexo e as negas should be cancelled in its first season

Musical performance scene from "Sexo e as negas"

Musical performance scene from “Sexo e as negas”

Courtesy of Notas TV

Complaints about Sexo e as negas may cause end of the series

After receiving complaints of reinforcing racism, directors of the Globo TV network are increasingly determined to shut down production of Sexo e as negas. Thus, according to columnist Keila Jimenez, the from the Folha de S. Paulo newspaper, it hardly seems that the series will have new seasons.

Created by Miguel Falabella, 57, the directors of the TV network believe that the name of the show was poorly chosen. I.e, the controversies provoked by the comedy would not exist if it were called otherwise.

Even before the premiere, a group of demonstrators protested against Sexo e as negas and even scrawled graffiti on the front of the Globo building in São Paulo. (See video below)

Protesters wrote the the term "racista" (racist) on the front of a Globo TV building

Protesters wrote the the term “racista” (racist) on the front of a Globo TV building

In recent interviews, Miguel Falabella denied any intention of being racist. The series was inspired by Sex and the City, produced in the United States between 1998 and 2004, and even went to the big screen.

Even before debuting, the new Miguel Falabella series disappointed Globo TV

Courtesy of Notas TV

Miguel Falabella, creator of 'Sexo e as negas" series

Miguel Falabella, creator of ‘Sexo e as negas” series

Unlike compliments about the novela Pé na Cova, Globo TV hasn’t shown the same excitement with Sexo e as Nêgas, the new series of Miguel Falabella, 57, according to columnist Flávio Ricco of the Diário de S. Paulo newspaper.

Behind the scenes of the station it’s been said that executives expected a more interesting story for the public. However, the material delivered by the production doesn’t meet the expectations of the project.

According to the same writer, the directors have already demonstrated that Sexo e as Nêgas will not have second season on Globo. The premiere was in September. Cláudia Jimenez, 55, is one of the leading names in the cast.

Note from BW of Brazil: In this next piece we present yet another voice weighing in on the topic and what has transpired over the past month.

The black actresses/singers and the wide, obedient smile on Encontro com Fátima Bernardes

Actresses of 'Sexo e as negas' appear on Globo TV talk show 'Encontro com Fátima Bernardes' in support of the series

Actresses of ‘Sexo e as negas’ appear on Globo TV talk show ‘Encontro com Fátima Bernardes’ in support of the series

There is hope, but not for us – Fátima Bernardes, Miguel Falabella, Carlinhos Brown and the negas

by Ronald Augusto

1) At that time of the interview with the patricinha fanatical for her futebol club, there was no black to join the discussion about the episode of racism against Aranha, and still in the program in question, besides the Bahian percussionist (Carlinhos Brown), the audience was full of other “beautiful negas” nodding their heads to all the nonsense spoken by those present.

After being caught calling a black goalkeeper "monkey" on camera, futebol fan Patrícia Moreira also appeared on 'Encontro' to offer an explanation

After being caught calling a black goalkeeper “monkey” on camera, futebol fan Patrícia Moreira also appeared on ‘Encontro’ to offer an explanation

2) Fátima, half excited, at one point says: “they [the negas] conquered this because they enabled themselves”; an allusion to meritocracy (1), ie, if blacks want and engage themselves, they will conquer their space, simple as that. The structural bias would cause no impediment to blacks, it should have been that the non-thinking host was thinking.

Women in audience of 'Encontro com Fátima Bernardes' look on

Women in audience of ‘Encontro com Fátima Bernardes’ look on

3) Black actresses-singers assert themselves through their hair, in their joy of living, despite the evil people, from the top of their tamanco (high heels) that step on the floor of Rio’s Cidade Alta. All of them maintained themselves until the end of the morning show with a broad and obedient smile.

'Sexo e as negas' actresses with talk show host Fátima Bernardes and series creator Miguel Falabella

‘Sexo e as negas’ actresses with talk show host Fátima Bernardes and series creator Miguel Falabella

4) Falabella has a black maid who inspired him to create a character of the series: now that’s love.

Popular musician Carlinhos Brown, a host on Globo TV's music reality show 'The Voice Brazil' also offered his support of the 'Sexo e as negas'

Popular musician Carlinhos Brown, a judge on Globo TV’s music reality show ‘The Voice Brazil’ also offered his support of the ‘Sexo e as negas’

5) Carlinhos Brown, at least with regard to a preposterous approach to the racial problem in Brazil, is the immediate replacement for Edson Arantes do Nascimento (Pelé) (2).

6) It seems there’s no way out.

Who ordered me to like the poems of Elisa Lucinda?

I always found the poems of Elisa Lucinda very boring and somewhat feigned. They’re not even poems, but texts where rhymes appear as bells and that are said (competently) by a good actress, that’s all. Although this preamble has nothing to do with it, at least apparently, with the subject of my review, it seemed opportune to mention, because it gives such a special coloring to what comes next, in regards to the conclusion.

It wasn’t much for the actress to post in her Facebook profile a text in defense of actor and director Miguel Falabella and of the series Sexo e as negas of which Falabella is the mastermind. In a very succinct manner I intend to review some topics of Elisa Lucinda’s reasoning. So let’s see.

The defense the actress alleges, first, is the need for space for black actors (but at what cost?) on TV and Brazilian novelas (soap operas). Up to that point, all is well, we are all tired of seeing black actors playing the role of the black, as if they were not cut out for anything other than repeating the stereotypes that society expects of them.

These actors are part of a kind of “ethnic core”. It is curious that the concept of “ethnic” does not include white actors of European descent. But, paradoxically, on this picture, Elisa suggests that black actors cannot waste any job opportunity, especially because, according to the popular adage that serves as the basis for her reasoning, in this case we could sigh something like “the lesser of evils”. As if blacks that today adorn the television program Esquenta were better off than the remote mulatas of Sargentelli.

But worse than this collaborationist position of Elisa Lucinda is her justification for tolerating Falabella. Elisa says that the mind of Falabella is suburban or friendly to the imaginary of this happy people, that is, that he would have the feeling for speaking of the community and that, moreover, always escalated black actors in his productions and projects.

The question is what kind of representations did these black actors embody or still embody? Therefore, such facts don’t mean that this citizen does not bring in his aesthetically suburban heart biased, racist and misogynist conceptions, after all, racism and sexism are also, yes, in the communities.

Skin color in Brazil is sometimes an asset (like gender), wherever we were what whiteness and masculinity impose as bonuses. Then, Miguel Falabella may even be sensitive to suburban flavor, but it doesn’t follow that he’s not a reproducer of traditional prejudices against blacks and women.

In another moment of her posting, Elisa Lucinda repeats the buzzword of censorship to humor the arguments of the critics of Sexo e as negas, and proposes, in a tone of manifesto, we should take off the band aid of traumas, insisting on the value of witticism as a purging of fears and, finally, Elisa uses a string of conciliatory clichés.

On the other hand, I wonder: what cowardly humor is this that delights in putting in the crosshairs of his reactionary laugh those traditionally in the social scale that are relegated to inferiority or invisibility?

It’s not humor in a strong sense – that subverts the convention – it’s just middle class humor, voted to keep everything and everyone in the same place, a humor whose targets is always the same: black, gay, fat, poor, women, in short, all that becomes the Zorra Total  (3) sponsored by the philosophers of the scenic suburb.

Finally, a confusing reference I didn’t understand. Elisa Lucinda seems to put on equal footing or draws an analogy of this movement of repudiation of the show Sexo e as negas with the criminal and isolated act of the subject (the newspapers describe it as “of the color pardo” ie brown, mixed or mulato) who tried to set fire to home of a racist fan involved in the episode with the black goalie Aranha. Elisa remembered that this refers to the fighting techniques of the Ku Klux Klan. Wow! Such a comparison is frivolous and pointless.

With this tirade Elisa Lucinda behaves, at least for me, as a mucama de casa-grande (slave housekeeper) defending her sinhozinho (slave master’s son) at any cost. Ie, those who want punishment for whoever calls a black “macaco” (monkey), those who perceive the prejudice suggested in a title like “Sexo e as negas” therefore, are really the ones intolerant of good humor and would fight it using the most racist and violent methods we know of? Impressive.

My dear, Elisa Lucinda, I have only one thing to say you: for the time being you are less deleterious for thought doing your poetry. Although your poetry is bad, at least while you are dedicating yourself to this you end up messing up less.

Epilogue

In view of recent events relating to racism in Brazil and due to a series of adjacent delivered comments by many blacks and whites who think it is better to forgive offenses – since the offense, at least in this country, is not intended to offend – and willingly accept visibility between the scoundrel and the servile for blacks in the media space, as this would be better than nothing, in short, in view of all this, I start to get increasingly pessimistic about the picture.

So much so that the other day while watching a documentary about Antônio Callado (4), I noticed the words of one contemporary writer who said Callado was of a generation that in relation to the issues at the root of Brazil (inequalities and contradictions), fought all important struggles of his time, however, lost all of them. Thus, with regard to racism and, naturally, within my modest limits of intervention and discussion, I am not surprised that, at fifty-three years of my age, I begin to experience a similar sense of failure.

Maybe I’m being dramatic. It is true that many are reacting, great. On the other hand, I cannot forget that Kafka writes, somewhere and before a dizzying nightmare, there must be hope, yes, but not for us. Only the nightmare from which I cannot escape, this “us” doesn’t seem to meet a minimum quota of that which is white.

Note from BW of Brazil: So what have we here? Over the past few weeks, this blog presented a number of black voices that wanted Brazil’s most powerful media corporation (Rede Globo) to know that they were none too pleased with depictions of black women on this latest attempt at “media diversity”. Although protests initially began due to the very title of the series that clearly associated black women with sexuality, with the debut of the show, the rejection got even stronger because of the show’s shortcomings and the fact that it lived up to the stereotypes that one gathered from the title. But as the debate heated up, a number of Afro-Brazilian entertainers stepped forward voicing support of the show and attempted to discredit protesters. Elisa Lucinda, being an Afro-Brazilian woman of somewhat prominence in the media has been previously featured on this blog and it is more than a bit disappointing to learn of her support of this program and her attempts to slander those who saw through the hype.

Protest against Sexo e as negas

As pointed out in a previous analysis, many Afro-Brazilians supporting the show (including Lucinda) were at some time in their careers or are now featured on productions of the Globo network. Also stated previously, their having worked or currently working for the network doesn’t necessarily discredit their opinions, but in some ways it was simply impossible not to believe that Globo TV representatives didn’t somehow influence them to make such statements. After all, it wouldn’t be difficult to believe that Globo, being the most dominant force in Brazil’s mass media, could have the power to make sure that these very same people never appear in any prominent roles again.

Those who attempted to deflect accusations of racism of the program’s white creator came across as “house negroes” who were simply trying to protect their master to avoid their own possible “punishment”. How else can we explain such statements of support? This is especially so now that we know that the Globo network itself admits to the very shortcomings that activists protested against. It’s shameful, but let this be a lesson to those of us who overwhelmingly support people who look like us when they achieve prominent roles in society. Because chances are that those people who have achieved such status have already sold themselves to the very same power structure that they perhaps would have protested against had they never gained their own status within the system.

So once again a question that has been posed on the blog previously comes to the forefront. Is individual black prominence worth it when it sacrifices the integrity of the whole group? Is it still worth it? This is not the first time that this question must be posed. And as individual blacks continue to fight for their “piece of pie”, sometimes even at the cost of sacrificing their own standing with the community, this will not be the last time.

Source: TV Yahoo, TV Yahoo (2), Vio Mundo

Notes

1. The argument of meritocracy has been a long-time battle cry of Brazilians who reject the institution of affirmative action to increase the number of Afro-Brazilians who have access to Brazilian universities.  See here.
2. This in reference to the futebol legend’s infamous neutrality and lack of activism on the issue of racism.

3. Zorra Total is a Brazilian television comedy broadcast by Globo Network. It was launched on March 25, 1999 and has aired on Saturdays, at 10p.m., ever since May 1999. The show is a sketch comedy show. It is the audience leader on its slot. In a previous post, Zorra Total was featured in reference to a character depicting racist stereotypes of poor, black women.
4. Antônio Callado (26 January 1917 – 28 January 1997) was a Brazilian journalist, playwright, and novelist. Source

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