Note from BW of Brazil: There is simply no way to deny that in any given society, the media, in particular television, plays a huge role in the dissemination and shaping of opinions and values. It also has a way of shaping and naturalizing the particular roles that certain groups play in society and legitimizing the standards for which society deems normal. For example, judging from television, what type of woman is that TV presents as the standard for all to follow? Does this woman have an age range? Height? Weight? Hair color? According to television, what type of woman is deemed most desirable? The most beautiful? Also according to television, what is the woman’s place in relation to men?
These same questions can be applied in terms of race. How does Brazilian television portray black people? As numerous posts on this blog have shown, Brazilian society clearly has a “place” reserved for Afro-Brazilians. In terms of area, this place is the favela (slum). In terms of employment, jobs of less prestige (maids, security guards, garbage collectors) are clearly associated with black Brazilians. In contrast, due to racist perceptions and practices of exclusion, roles associated with power, beauty, wealth, intelligence continue to be associated with Brazilians of European phenotypes. Historically, Brazilian television has always re-enforced these associations and, as we will see, this representation continues to be true today.
Black actors still playing poor and suffering characters on TV
By Vinícius Ferreira
Majority of roles on novelas (soap operas) are marginalized characters and general service jobs
Tuesday, May 13th marked 126 years of the abolition of slavery in Brazil. Novelas and more novelas have for many years and continue to fill the small screen with scenes of prejudice and racism to highlight the importance of the signing of the Lei Áurea (Golden Law), but the iG website wondered: in practice, are the Brazilian dramas overcoming the obstacles of discrimination?
In an analysis of soap operas featured on the major TV networks, it was found that out of 28 black characters on the Globo, SBT and Record networks, only five don’t portray characters working in marginalized professions, experience dramas or suffered some sort of abuse. On the Globo network novela, Geração Brasil, actors Luis Miranda and Lázaro Ramos occupy prominent roles in successful characters.
The actor Nando Cunha revealed in an interview with iG on the Day of Black Consciousness, that he feels the harsh reality in his profession. “I have suffered prejudice of various kinds. I always hear, ‘this role is not for your profile’. But when they say ‘no’, I have greater strength. I dream that the future will be easier, in which I don’t need to push myself so much,” he says. “If I had blue eyes, was blonde and white, it would be much easier.
“Even with all this success I’ve had, I’m not escalating for anything. If it were a white guy in my place that had all of this success I wouldn’t be unemployed. I know my potential and what I’m capable of doing. I only dream that the dispute is normal for everyone. And I don’t complain of the privilege of others. I just want the same rights,” he added.
“The situation of the black citizen is much better than before, although I believe that what is still offered to blacks appearance of charity, or correcting a historical error, which is made in a not so fair manner,” said the musician Péricles in a recent interview with iG. The singer Thiaguinho endorsed: “Every day more blacks occupy better positions in society, but it’s still far from what we dream of. We need more opportunities to show our value..”
See the photo gallery of afrodescendentes (African descendants) who are the actors that are on the air at the moment and what their roles are.
1. Jogo do Bicho (“the animal game”) is an illegal gambling game in Brazil, prohibited by federal law since 1946. Very popular throughout the country, the “game” is actually a lottery-type drawing operated on a regional basis by mobsters known as contraventores (who commit misdemeanors), bicheiros or banqueiros (“bankers”). Unlike most state-operated lotteries, in Jogo do Bicho you can bet any amount of money, even a cent. Despite its popularity (and being more or less tolerated, especially in Rio de Janeiro), it is still illegal in 25 of the 26 states of Brazil and those involved may be prosecuted. Paraíba is the only state where the game is legal and regulated by the state, even though according to a federal law this activity is prohibited. In other northeastern states the game is tolerated by the government. Source
2. Afro-Brazilian actors were also featured on a previous post about the novela Pecado Mortal.