Note from BW of Brazil: The absurdity of Brazilian television is something that one really has to watch to believe. I admit, I don’t spend much time watching it because I just don’t have the patience to deal with it. But even in just flicking through channels for a few minutes a day one can learn a lot from what is being transmitted into millions of homes everyday. As Daisy Donovan theorized in her series The Greatest Shows on Earth (that exposed viewers to a bit of television from countries such as Brazil, Egypt and Abu Dhabi, India and South Korea), “television is the window into the soul of a nation”. Now if we assume that to be true, what does Brazilian television tell us about the Brazilian soul?
Well, if you only judged from the pieces posted on this blog you would most definitely come away with the opinion that Brazil thinks very little of its black population and doesn’t know how to deal with the issue of race. Not only is this huge population (53% of the nation) almost completely invisible from the nation’s airwaves, when they DO appear they are presented in extremely stereotypical manners. The invisibility and stereotyping are so strong that many networks go as far as even hiring white actors painted in blackface to imitate this parcel of the population. And as we’ve seen in numerous posts about the popularity of blackface on Brazilian television (as well as in public events, plays and jokes), Brazil doesn’t even want to allow the black population the right to determine what is and what is not racist. Because after all, ‘the show must go on’, right? Judging from the recent productions seen in the post below that seems to be the general idea. I mean, no one in Brazil is/means to be racist, right?
Brazilian “humor” is a racist tragedy
For whoever still doesn’t understand that blackface is racism, an old theater practice and that is basically made by white people that, at the height of their privileges, made fun of blacks when they did a stereotyped caricature of us, or better, of what they imagined it was being black, re-enforcing our physical characteristics that protrude to racist eyes, with the intent of making fun, making a joke and provoking laughs.
Generally, people paint themselves black, wear wigs of cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair) and can even draw on mouths with large lips. In Brazil, practices like this are commonplace on Brazilian television, in a racist society that pretends that it’s not, blacks are constantly humiliated with the goal of causing laughs and humorists that do this come out unscathed or even position themselves into roles of persecuted victims by activists “censoring”.
The most recent case is the character “Africano” of the infamous Pânico na Band (that program loved by young, unemployed middle class whites).
Apparently this character will no longer go to the air after public demonstrations, besides blackface being pure xenophobia, and I keep trying to understand whether these white and privileged comedians who have studied in good schools such as Eduardo Sterblitch who played “Africano” doesn’t know that Africa is a continent with 54 countries with different cultures, with different people, and that these people are people like him and therefore are not this humiliating caricature that doesn’t say anything but just babbles and behaves in a bestial way.
Worse, is that, as I said, laughter here is very associated with racist acts, take a look at the following examples:
1 – Adelaíde – Zorra Total
Adelaíde was played by actor Rodrigo Sant’anna, basically a black woman, to characterize himself he painted his skin brown and wore a false nose, toothless, a beggar, disheveled and constantly humiliating her own daughter, who was also a character made with blackface, even saying that her hair was like “palha de aço” (steel wool).
The only purpose of this skit was to humiliate black Brazilian women, who also are the majority of the country and are a minority in positive media representations. If there is a scenario where blacks in the majority poor this is the fault of a colonial past, where blacks were enslaved. So what is the humor behind blacks in poverty, in our social-racial context? What?
Adelaíde was for me the maximum of the black woman’s humiliation in the form of a character, (but) what scares me is that not only did Globo TV deny this, as the actor who is black, justified it saying it was based on a real woman and this was an “homage”. This little excuse is common when these “comedians” are confronted by their racist acts.
2 – Valéria – Zorra Total
So I put the two consecutive because both are represented by Sant’anna who, as I said, is a black man who seems “to hate” blacks, especially black women.
The character, owner of the catchphrase “Ai como estou bandida” (So, like I’m a bandit)!”, is more of a stereotyped black woman using exaggerated clothes, unkempt cabelo crespo (kinky/curly hair), speaking with grammatical errors, another character that the actor resorted to to ridicule black women to cause laughter. She even makes fun of Umbanda (Afro-Brazilian religion) terms and made racist comments like calling her friend a mixture of monkeys.
I wanted to understand what this guy’s problem with black women was and what the joke that he tried to make but couldn’t because it was both regrettable and didn’t cause laughter, it only collaborated in the persecution that black women suffer starting in childhood.
Rodrigo what did we do to you?
3- Cida – Alto Astral novela
The novela (soap opera) already ended, but Cida was a character at the core of the novela’s humor done by the former comedian and actress Monica Iozzi who was in the script basically a rich, blonde girl, Scarlett, who had to pass as poor to get her inheritance, so the solution was to make Scarlett wear a “crespa” (curly/kinky) wig and make her, according to the other characters, an “ugly” girl, and thus Cida was born.
Associating black characteristics such as cabelo crespo to an ugly aesthetic and poverty … is … RACISM. But in the novela it was a “joke”…
“Seriously @LasombraRibeiro let’s forget this…How many bananas do you want to let this story go?” (photo above)
And other things like these:
“Now (playing) in TeleCine (cinema) King King, a monkey that after going to the city and becoming famous gets a blond. Who does he think he is? A futebol player?”
He’s not a person who can deal with racial issues well, then hiring a black female employee for his program The Noite com Danilo Gentili on SBT is basically an attempt of: “I’m not racist I even have a black friend,” however the nature racist of the comedian makes him expose this girl to humiliation, even speaking of her cabelo crespo or using it in an assembly full of other characters in blackface.
In this video he “jokes” about the way she cuts her hair and speaks of his pubic hair:
Here again she is placed in a shameful position and the program calls for the use of blackface:
5- Ivonete, 220 Volts
Paulo Gustavo is a comedian and actor in the film Minha Mãe é uma Peça which is sexist, gordofobico (demeaning to overweight people) and problematic, but not happy with this detriment to humanity he decided to create this character – Ivonete. She dances the samba, lives on the hill and he is wearing black face, a curly wig and padding to create a bundão (big butt). One more representation mocking the black woman … nothing funny and even speaks ill of religions of African origin.
6- Clonerson, Pânico na Band
It seems that Pânico loves racism and didn’t do blackface only in the case of “Africano”, this character is a copy and “tribute” to the fighter Anderson Silva done by the comedian Ceará – famous for his role as (TV host/SBT TV owner) Sílvio Santos.
I wondered for what reason they didn’t use a black comedian in this role, then I remembered that they have no blacks in its cast, see:
It seems that Pânico likes to humiliate black people, but hiring them is not good.
It appears evident that in Brazil “humor” with the oppressed is a perpetuation of oppression and humor with the oppressor nobody does, after all it requires intelligence, a capacity national ‘comedians’ don’t have.
And in a country where racism is that of the other I bet that the excuse will always be this (1):
No one is racist, but when it’s time to laugh the reason is always us.
It was meant to be funny, but it’s a tragedy full of comedians who hate blacks.
Source: Imprensa Feminista, UOL
- In typical fashion, after the fall out from the controversy, the program’s directors announced that the ‘Africano’ character would be taken off the air. More in the report below.”Sought by UOL news, director Alan Rapp said he would issue a statement only through his press office. Given the negative posts, the comedy team said “the permanence of character is being evaluated by the direction of the program.” In a statement, the program issued an apology:“‘Africano’ is one of the characterizations present in the ‘Pânico’s Chef’ skit. In this context there are characterizations of Mexicans, Chinese and Arabs, among others.The Pânico program has been on the air for 12 years on Brazilian television and never intended to offend its viewers with none of its attractions, but to provide entertainment with its characteristic humor. The Pânico program apologizes to the public that was offended by the character.””