Note from BW of Brazil: With episode three of the controversial series Sexo e as negas airing tonight, debate over the program has become a true battleground. Black women activists have held strong in their denouncements of the program but there have also been a number of prominent personalities stepping forward to commend the program thus giving their support and endorsement. But this support actually brings another angle into the discussion: media manipulation. We touched upon this topic a few days ago when Globo TV, the network that broadcasts Sexo e as negas, dealt with another infamous incident dealing with a futebol fan being caught on camera calling a black player “macaco” (monkey). Although intending for the talk show, Encontro com Fátima Bernardes, to present itself as having an open, honest discussion about racism in a society of citizens that refuse to assume personal responsibility, there were no representatives of the Movimento Negro (black civil rights organizations) nor even a black person on the stage. How could there be a true discussion on this issue when there was no full range of opinions represented by persons of the group that are most targeted with such insults? Perhaps that was the very objective – avoiding a discussion that is badly needed in Brazilian society while simultaneously minimizing the various mechanisms of racism that continue to exist in the country.
The discussion about Sexo e as negas is just as important. And as black activists have managed to keep their repudiation of the program in the public’s mind, the nation’s most powerful, and many would argue, most manipulative media outlet gives full accessibility to those who support the show while those who oppose it do not have the same visibility and thus less influence in the balance of discourse on how the show is perceived. Last week, we reported how popular musician Carlinhos Brown appeared on the same talk and gave his verbal approval of the program. Actor Deiwis Jamaica also voiced his support of the show. Brown and Jamaica joined the expected support of the show’s stars and creator. But they were not the first, and as this debate continues to divide opinions, they will certainly not be the last. As proof of this, in today’s article, we feature more Afro-Brazilians who have shown their support for the show. But what is questionable about these voices is the fact that all three currently work or have long careers of work on the Globo TV network. This also applies to Carlinhos Brown, who is one of the judges of the music reality show, The Voice Brasil, as well as Jamaica who recently appeared in the Globo novela Em Família.
Although it would be unfair to simply disregard the opinions of these artists, it would also be irrational not to consider the fact that the country’s most dominant media outlet may have twisted a few arms to make sure their “house actors” gave their support to the show. The stakes are high particularly with three of the country’s top TV stations (Globo, Record and SBT) recently reducing the salaries of their actors across the board as highlighted in the article “Acaba a era dos supersalários na TV brasileira” (The era of super-salaries on Brazilian TV ends). Between the three networks, salary reductions alone will save an estimated R$100 million (US$41 million). In a comment below, a viewer named Francisco considered the pressure that must be on arguably Brazil’s most successful Afro-Brazilian actor and actress, husband and wife no less, to support the show. The duo have also appeared on a number of popular Globo TV novelas over the past several years. In hos comments, Francisco notes how Brazil’s first and only black college seems to have already given its support to the show (even though its students repudiate it). It is in this backdrop that consider the comments of three actors who recently voiced their support for the controversial new show.
Translation of text above: “The Zumbi dos Palmares College decided to honor the one responsible for the series Sexo e as negas. Alienated blacks are clapping for this honor. Globo seems to have convinced almost all the black actors and actresses of their house to give favorable testimonials to that cultural trash. Pressure on Lázaro Ramos and Taís Araújo must be monumental for them to give a testimony in favor of Falabella. At this moment the couple must be resisting. I don’t know how long the couple can endure, because eventually who knows if they may eventually find themselves in front of indirect (pressure) to follow the editorial line. If following the editorial line may sound like “speaking in favor of Falabella or you will be in the refrigerator a long time.” Wow, how much pressure. The other black men and women actors and actresses don’t have a way to endure the pressure and there is pressure to open their mouths in favor of the series.” NOTE: The dean of Zumbi dos Palmares isn’t giving up anything. He’s been the dean since the college’s opening in 2003.”
Black actors opine about accusations of racism against Sexo e as negas
By Ana Cora Lima and Giselle de Almeida
The author of the controversial series Sexo e as negas, which has been accused of racism on social networks, Miguel Falabella has the support of actors to spoke to UOL (news site). The actress Zezeh Barbosa, friend of the actor, writer and director for over 20 years, comes out in defense of the creator of the series and explains that he, by contrast, is known for creating good job opportunities for black performers. “How can you be a racist author who puts four black women on as protagonists? There’s no way to attack someone who gives his best role to a black woman,” she says. The actress says that she’s even amused by the charges. “I spoke to him these days and I said, ‘But again, Miguel?’ I played a countess and filmed in Paris in Aquele Beijo (2011-2012 novela, meaning “that kiss”). That would have never happened if it were not him,” she says.
Luis Miranda, currently on the air as Dorothy in the novela Geração Brasil, also does not believe that the series has a pejorative connotation, as many believe. “I think it’s bullshit what they’re doing to Miguel. He was a guy who never stood in defense or in criticism of any social class. He’s a smart guy, he wouldn’t make a program to denigrate anyone. He has many black friends and would never denigrate or intensify class differences. I think they have nothing else to do,” huffed the actor. Luis also cites another recent controversy surrounding the issue of prejudice as one of the cases that deserve attention: The case involving the Santos goalkeeper Aranha, who was offended during a match against Grêmio. “Society has more things to think about. Let’s worry about people calling others monkey,” he says.
Owner of a respected career in theater, TV and film, Milton Gonçalves also sees no problem in the series to justify such negative repercussions, which began even before the debut of the program. “We live in a country where the protest is free. Everyone has the right to protest. And if someone feels offended, there is the Court to defend (them). But this is more a personal stance. One is only hurt if they let themselves be hurt. I see no problem calling anyone negro. Sou negro, e daí (I’m black, so what)? I would be offended if they called me a bad character,” he says. “My great concern is that the series is bad. If poorly made, poorly directed, I’ll be damned in life. But calling someone black, what’s the problem?” he adds.
Note from BW of Brazil: Surprisingly, but again, as no one wants to bite the hand that feeds them, it is not surprising, but let’s analyze a few of these comments anyway. Again, keep in mind that all these of these actors have been or are employed by Globo TV. 1) I cannot speak ill of Luis Miranda’s skills as an actor but I DO note that he has recently taken part in a recent upsurge in male Afro-Brazilian entertainers/actors who have been dressed in drag or portraying gay/homosexual characters. In a current novela, Geração Brasil, also on Globo, Miranda plays a transsexual named Dorothy. In the 2012 film, De pernas pro ar 2, Miranda played the role of sex addict Mano Love, a parody of real life futebol star Vagner Love. Although acting is an art form, I DO sometimes wonder what goes into his selection process for accepting such characters given the stereotypical and rare roles offered to Afro-Brazilian actors. Is this a case of simply taking whatever is offered? (Actor addresses this later in article) If I’m not mistaken, in De pernas 2, Miranda was one of the only, if not in fact the only black actor in the film. His portrayal of a transsexual calls the question as to why there have been five dark-skinned Afro-Brazilian entertainers dressed in drag in recent Globo TV productions.
2) Actress Zezeh Barbosa questioned, “How can you be a racist author who puts four black women on as protagonists?” It’s very easy to express one’s stereotypical views of a given social group, especially when such characters conform to the roles that persons from this group have long held in the media. As Falabella is Barbosa’s friend and he’s put her in his productions, how can one really consider her comments objectively when there are financial and personal interests at stake? But really, did Barbosa even consider the history of black women in Brazilian film and television? It seems from her comments that Barbosa may believe that the only variety of racism in society is that represented by the KKK. News flash: racism comes in the blatant as well as the covert variety and the very fact that a white man has the power to continue his own slanted view of a long oppressed population while brushing off rejections from this very group is one of the most obvious examples.
3) As for Milton Gonçalves, I must first offer respect to this long time actor. The 80-year old veteran is one of the greatest actors in the history of Brazilian television with a career dating back to the late 1950s. His speech in defense of a 90% black cast in a 2004 film and on what he has endured as a black actor in Brazil alone should cement his place in history. But his comments on this series in which he narrowed the issue down to simply calling someone negro/black didn’t even touch on the problem. The issue at hand is not simply having the term “nega” in the title. The issue with the title is in connecting sexuality with black women, a long-standing stereotype in Brazil which he must be aware of. There are a number of other issues with the show as activists have pointed out, but quite honestly it appears that all three of these actors may have been told what to say because all of their comments were very weak and didn’t even begin to engage in the issues.
4) While on the topic, let’s also consider the comments of actor Deiwis Jamaica from a previous post when speaking of Falabella and as negas, he said: “Let’s support this, that came out of the suburb and that is more than proving that the suburb has not left him. And for these and others always giving opportunities to black actors in such a hard job market. It’s more than time to forget this theme of ‘Historical Debts’. We blacks owe nothing to anyone, we do not have to feel persecuted.”
Really? Let’s see, did this actor even consider why Brazil’s media is “such a hard job market” for black actors who are never more than 10% of any cast? Forget the theme of ‘historical debts’?!? After a 400 year race (350 in slavery) in which Afro-Brazilians only won quotas some 11 years ago, it’s time forget historic debts? Is the score suddenly even now? Even with all of the social stats that reject this thesis? It would be true that if Brazil were an equal society that reference to ”historic debts’ should be a thing of the past, but in a society that continues to practice a blatant racial hierarchy, the past continues to be a strong influence on the present. It is true that ‘blacks owe nothing to anyone’, but when will Brazilian society begin to legitimately address four centuries of inequalities, one of the biggest being in media representation? Is there really any question of who owes whom?
In conclusion, with Globo TV being one of the principal agents of deception in Brazilian society and repeatedly proving that it has no intention of openly discussing the dynamics of racial oppression, the comments of all of these actors make it appear that they are completely “on the team” and are full participants in helping to deflect and even support the avoidance of any real dialogue on the issues. As such, they may be Globo TV’s “house actors”, but their willingness to support their modern day white masters make them come across more as “house negros”, in reference to Malcolm X’s legendary analogy. And although it’s true that playing one’s role is a part of the game of deception, it’s still a shame.
Below is another short retrospect of the roles of Afro-Brazilians on television.
Blacks in Brazilian television dramas
1973 – Actors Ruth de Souza and Milton Gonçalves de Souza in a scene of the novela O Bem Amado by Dias Gomes. In the plot, they interpret the couple Zelão das Asas, the fisherman married to the midwife and nurse Chiquinha do Parto, played by Ruth.
1995 – In another scenario, we have the middle class Noronha family, in the novela A Próxima Vítima (The Next Victim). With actors: Norton Nascimento, Antônio Pitanga, Zezé Motta, Isabel Fillardis, Camila Pitanga, Lui Mendes. Camila Pitanga appears with straightened hair.
1984 – In the novela Corpo a Corpo by Gilberto Braga, Cláudio (Marcos Paulo) is an engineering graduate, but does not accept following his father’s career and is regarded as the rebellious son. He falls in love with the architect Sônia (Zezé Motta), but the romance is not accepted by Cláudio’s family. Zezé suffered a lot of prejudice at the time – “Wow…we were very shocked because they did a survey and it came out in a newspaper and had a man who said ‘could it be that Marcos Paulo is much in need of money to go through this humiliation for kissing that negra feia (ugly black woman)?’ and another ‘if I had to kiss that horrible black I’d go home and wash my mouth with bleach’,” reported the actress during her participation on the talk show, Encontro com Fátima Bernardes on Globo TV.
2004 – In the novela Da Cor do Pecado (of the color of sin), by João Emanuel Carneiro, Taís Araújo plays the protagonist Preta. Daughter of a street vender, she meets Paco (Reynaldo Gianecchini) during a biology trip to São Luís do Maranhão and the two fall in love. Preta is forced to confront prejudice from her mother who doesn’t accept a white boyfriend and from Paco’s former fiancée, Bárbara (Giovanna Antoneli), who hates blacks and pejoratively calls Preta (Portuguese for black), “neguinha”.
2005 – In the novela A Lua Me Disse (The Moon Told Me) by Maria Carmen Barbosa and Miguel Falabella, Zezeh Barbosa (Latoya) and Mary Sheila (Jurema) form the duo of comic villains. Latoya had delusions of grandeur and is the cynical type. Jurema was the type who never liked to study and worked as a maid in the home of Regina (Maitê Proenca).
2008 – In Negócio da China, a novela written by Miguel Falabella, Zezeh Barbosa plays the character Semíramis, who has an affair with the owner of the bakery where she works, Belarmino (Joaquim Monchique), who is married to Carminda (Carla Andrino)
2009 – In Viver a Vida, Taís Araújo plays the first black Helena in a novela by Manoel Carlos. She brought to life to a successful international model. Despite the success, she suffers an abortion that had in the past, because of her the career, and relationship issues. The character gets involved with the characters of Thiago Lacerda and José Mayer. At the time, Taís’s Helena suffered several criticisms. In an interview with Claudia magazine August 2013, the actress said that she matured because of the comments.
2011 – In the novela Insensato Coração, Lázaro Ramos plays the single, successful designer André. He gets involved with the Drumond marketing executive, Carol (Camila Pitanga), with whom he has a child. In the Gilberto Braga and Ricardo Linhares plot, both characters have prominent positions on the social scale.
At 24, the São Paulo native Samuel Nascimento plays the heartthrob Broduey in the novela Violetta, a Disney production, filmed in Argentina and a success with audiences in Latin America and Europe. He sees little opportunity in Brazilian TV dramas and with few opportunities for blacks. “I don’t think about doing soap operas in Brazil. We talk so much prejudice outside of the country, but watching TV I feel that this is much stronger here [Brazil]. We see few black actors or they have roles of maids, drivers or drug dealers,” he said in an interview with UOL in 2013.
2012 – In Lado a Lado, actress Sheron Menezes plays Berenice, a woman from a poor background. The Claudia Lage and João Braga Ximenes plot goes into the past of the 20th century and shows the strength and the struggle for freedom of women and blacks. Laura (Marjorie Estiano) and Isabel (Camila Pitanga) are the main characters of the novela. The show won the Emmy in 2013 – the biggest international TV awards.
2012 – In Lado a Lado, Camila Pitanga and Lázaro Ramos interpret the couple Isabel and Zé Maria. After suffering much prejudice because of skin color and poor backgrounds, the couple manages to beat the odds and stay together.
2012 – In Lado a Lado, Zezeh Barbosa plays Tia Jurema. The character is famous for her food and her rodas de samba (samba circles), besides jogando búzios (shell game) (1).
In 2012 novela Salve Jorge, on Globo TV, Roberta Rodrigues plays the periguete Maria Vanúbia, a resident of Complexo do Alemão in Rio de Janeiro.
2014 – In Império, a novela by Aguinaldo Silva, Cris Vianna plays Juju, an ex-samba school dancer.
2014 – In the Globo TV novela Em Família, actress Erika Januza interprets the dance student Alice, the best friend of Luiza, the character played by Bruna Marquezine
2014 – In Globo’s Além do Horizonte, Sheron Menezzes plays the innocent Keila, married to the Tapiré bigwig, Kleber (Marcelo Novaes). The character helps in her husband’s business and doesn’t suspect his wickedness
2014 – With a 30 year career, actor Luis Miranda delayed in joining the cast of a novela. Luis Miranda plays the transgender Dorothy Benson, mother of pop guru Brian (Lázaro Ramos) in Geração Brasil. Known for his extensive work in theater and film, he explains why it took so much to act in serials – “The black actor has a small market. Either he is famous and has a plays a good role or he’s always playing the role of the pizza delivery man. The invitations that they gave me before me were very bad. A nice invitation never appeared. You can be good actor in film, but television is very difficult to penetrate.”
2014 – The actor Fabrício Boliveira plays Tadeu in the Globo TV novela Boogie Oogie. In the plot, he is a guy holds a law degree, who dreams of being a diplomat and has a sad past. His father left home when he was a child and his mother worked as a maid to pay for his studies.
1. The jogo de búzios, or shell game (èrindinlógun) is one of the divination arts of Afro-Brazilian religions, which consists of throwing a set of 16 cowry shells on a previously prepared table, and in the analysis of the configuration that the shells adopt falling on it. Before throwing the shells, the fortune teller prays and welcomes all Orixás (Orishas, African deities), and during pitches converses with the deities and ask questions. Source