Note from BW of Brazil: Could this be a situation that defines the idea of “taking two steps forward and one step back”? “One step forward, two steps back”? Breaking even or only many steps forward? Well, I guess it all depends on your perspective. If you’re not a follower of black Brazilian entertainers, you’ll need a little background here.
One of the main issues on this blog is the necessity for black representative in an overwhelmingly white mainstream Brazilian media. Numerous studies show that there is no debating this issue and black Brazilian activists have been pointing this out and demanding to presence of more black Brazilians on TV, in films and advertising this doesn”t even include numerous areas of society. A few years ago, I was a bit taken aback to discover that even music videos that promote funk music, a genre directly created by young, poor, black youth in the favelas of Rio, mostly featured non-black women.
Nowadays, the push is on for not only black representation, but also black entrepreneurship and the concept of black money. Just in the past decade, we’ve seen a number of attempts to address this deficit in representation, some with great results, others not so great. On the one hand, there have been films and plays such as Café com Canela, Love Story, the Boticário Father’s Day commercial, the musical Elza, the film Besouro and numerous others releases featuring all-black or primarily black casts that were great examples of how black casts can be be just as good and entertaining as projects featuring all or mostly white casts.
On the other hand, productions such as Subúrbia and Sexo e as Negas as well as novelas (soap operas) such as Escrava Mãe and Liberdade Liberdade show how easy it is to rely on tried and true stereotypes or depictions of Afro-Brazilians as slaves.
So, the latest production for consideration brings another question on the black representation issue. In a recent video clip, two singers, one from Bahia and the other from São Paulo, teamed up in a duet and video that features a 100% black cast and prominently features several beautiful black women. The video was influenced by a popular late 1980s film starring well-known comedian and actor Eddie Murphy. Sounds good, right? So what’s the issue? Let’s get to the story first…
Two prominent black pagode singers unite to exalt black beauty
On Friday, Léo Santana and Thiaguinho released the song “Pretinho Tipo A”.
Song marks the duet of the singers and shows the meeting of several stars
On Friday (10) singers Léo Santana and Thiaguinho released a duet: ‘Pretinho Topo A’. The song, written by the Bahian and by Rafa Chagas, Leonardo Helber and Lucão, talks about a game of seduction.
“Let your guard down, you don’t know what you’re missing / I know you want me / Your friend told me / He showed you a picture of me / And you commented that I’m / a pretinho tipo A”.
Directed by Raphael Vieira, the video is inspired by the movie Harlem Nights (1989), directed by and starring Eddie Murphy. Set between the 1920s and 1940s, it was recorded in a house in the Laranjeiras neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro, and features appearances of Miss Brasil 2016 Raissa Santana along with actors/actresses Cris Vianna, Luana Xavier, Jonathan Azevedo, Rafael Zulu and Thiago Thomé.
“I’m very happy with this partnership. Thiaguinho is a friend for whom I have a great admiration and the result was super right. I’m sure the guys will enjoy it a lot. This was a clip made with a lot of affection together with a team of incredible and talented people. I am very grateful and eager for this release,” says Léo.
Thiaguinho also reinforced his pleasure in sharing a song with the pagodeiro from Bahia: “It’s a great honor to participate in this release with my great friend Léo Santana! We have been trying for some time to record together and finally we have. The song is good too! We recorded the clip last year in Rio de Janeiro, and the result was very beautiful. I hope you like it!” says Thiaguinho.
Note from BW of Brazil: So far, so good, right? Before I go, let me also remind you that the term “palmiteiro” defines someone who chooses white women to have long-term relationships, while the term “preto tipo A”, or in this case, “Pretinho Tipo A”, refers to a “straight up”, “real” black man who is pride of his color/race. In terms of the video, as defined in the description, the video features blackness, black men and black women, all brown to dark skinned, from beginning to end, which is clearly against the norm for any Brazilian video production.
It’s clear that the artists wanted to make a statement in recording such a video with a cast featuring numerous figures from Brazil’s black entertainment world. For some people, this could actually be shocking when we consider the reaction to the Boticário Father’s Day commercial featuring an all-black family. The Harlem Nights influence in the video isn’t overt but recognizable in the night club setting and the clothes the characters are wearing. I also caught the quick scene in which a dollar bill was shown featuring the face of legendary Afro-Brazilian hero, Zumbi dos Palmares. Nice touch!
So, again, what’s the problem here? Well, the topic popped up in one popular Afro-Brazilian Facebook group and people immediately took issue with the title of the article, “Léo Santana and Thiaguinho exalt black beauty in ‘Pretinho Tipo A'”. What’s wrong with exalting black beauty, you might ask? Nothing.
But the issue brought up reminded me of a popular meme that was floating around African-American communities several years ago. Some of you might have seen it.
You see, the issue was that the two singers, Léo Santana, Thiaguinho and one of the actors, Rafael Zulu, in the videos don’t appear to live up to the title of the article in their real lives.
When the article first appeared in the Facebook group, there was hardly if any discussion of the song and without the article mentioning anything about the personal lives of any of the men in the video, everyone commenting on the story all saw an apparent contradiction with the title of the article when considering the partners of the two singers, who have been long defined as “palmiteiros” due to their relationships with white women.
Interestingly, a little over a week ago, I posted another article about fan reaction to actress Erika Januza’s new love and one her supporters stated that when it became known that Bahian singer Léo Santana was dating former Domingão do Faustão variety show dancer Lore Improta, no one said anything. Not true. In fact, one man named Gerson expressed his views in a Facebook post this way:
Léo Santana & Lore Improta” ♥ Wedding!
“I want to have a child soon. Lore said it is necessary to get married first, to have a child later,” said Léo (Santana) in a VIP box in Salvador – The wedding is set for 2020.
Another “palmito” for the statistics of research institutes in this country.
By Gerson Oliveira
Introduction to the text
Damn the class differences. The repair of black slavery, which never really happened.
“Sonhos “Garveynianos” (“Garveyite” dreams) of a strong, distant black economy. …Very distant from us, because the black men or the black women who ascend in society, are the first to give up fighting. They glimpse the universe of the whites: “Incapable” of falling in love with someone of the same color and giving that person, the real possibility of forming a “família preta empoderada” (empowered black family), everything that this odious system doesn’t want us to be, “Empowered”.
The “palmitating” rolls free among the famous, much because of this system, which we know very well, is racist, organized and astute – Just apply the well-known “neck test” and take a look at the sites, magazines or TV programs about the class of the famous, and soon we will see the obvious, the negligible presence of black men and black women among the guests.
My final considerations
Only through a just repair of slavery and its disastrous consequences can we live together in an equal and dignified way. For being the black man, a member of the same people that composes each State of the Federation, this “repair of a historical racial debt,” will raise the country to the top of the group of the most powerful nations and, its negligence, chaos, as in today’s world.
Brothers and sisters,
No government in the world, be it left or right, has done (or does), or even has interest in doing anything for any nation that has blacks, simply because we are a “hindrance” to them. Hence, the genocide of the world’s black population and, as in the illustration above, the romanticized form of a “negrocídeo” (black genocide) the mixture of races = gradual whitening of the black population, “eugenics”.
“AfroCentrado” ♥ (Afro-Centric ♥)
Note from BW of Brazil: Similar to Gerson, after the debut of the new Santana/Thiaguinho video, many others expressed their views that it is a contradiction for these black artists to seemingly making a bold statement that goes against the accepted racial paradigm for Brazilian audio-visual productions by presenting an all-black cast featuring a number of beautiful black women. Below is how a few of them saw the issue.
Benedito: For the media, for activism, to earn money, to make success…black beauty will do, but to have relationships, then, no, right, so it’s already too much, as such, each one has their white woman.
Deja: Two palmiteiros!!!!
Ana: The song exalts the black man and uses black women as a “backdrop”. We know that financially successful black men, the example of these singers, use white women as a “business card”/passport to feel white and included in a society that discriminates against us.
Nilsa: Both are married to non-black women, which wouldn’t be a problem if they had already been seen dating and posing for magazines with a black girlfriend!!! But no! Only non-black people! So, the question is, is the exaltation only in theory? In practice…
Vinicius: Embarrassing palmiteiros!!
Cristina: They exalt black beauty, only that when it’s time get married, they marry blonds. I don’t understand???
Andreá: They did it just to call the blondes for these black men. Like (singer) Mumuzinho in love with the blond, or goalkeeper Aranha suffering prejudice from the Grêmio girl, but he didn’t choose a black woman to marry either.
Patricia: Palmitating themselves
Naty: Funny right…Contradictory this clip
Note from BW of Brazil: So, there you have it. How do you see this? Do you think that it’s a contradiction for black artists to apparently make a statement endorsing all-black videos, a type of black empowerment, in a Brazil where all-black settings are frowned upon, but then not live up to the image and message in their own lives? Or do you believe that this is simply entertainment and that their personal lives should have nothing to do with it? Gerson and the people commenting on the article all made similar points to those that I’ve written over a number of previous posts on this topic, but what do YOU think?