Note from BW of Brazil: As this blog has pointed out on numerous occasions, as well as people like American filmmaker Spike Lee, Brazilian filmmaker Joel Zito Araújo or Mozambican writer Paulina Chiziane, Brazil’s TV networks portray the country as an extension of Europe in the tropics on a daily basis. Even the most casual viewer would come away with the idea that they were watching European or American television if they spent just one day watching Brazilian television productions. Some of the most blatant examples of this obsession with whiteness are the various variety, comedy and game shows that are abundant on most networks.
Shows like Globo TV’s Domingão do Faustão, Pânico na Band on the Bandeirantes TV network, or SBT TV’s Topa ou Não Topa, a Brazilian version of Deal or No Deal, continue the media’s practice of the “manufacturing of the white woman as the standard of beauty“, as featured in a previous post. Many black women in Brazil lament the fact that many black Brazilian men pass them over for blond/white women. One must wonder what the overwhelming whiteness of the women on Brazilian TV shows may have to do with this and if it sets a standard for desirability. In most shows, the women simply serve as “eye candy”, background bodies or entertainment breaks when the host is not the focus of the camera. In the case of Pânico na Band, they sometimes push the limits of decency and the exploitation in the manner in which these women are depicted on the shows. Let that serve as a warning before you view the videos below of that particular program.
The extreme absence of black women on these programs is a point that most people don’t seem to notice, but some people do occasionally stop and think, “Hey, where are the women/people that I see in the streets on this program?” Now, to be sure, if one lives in southern states of the country such as Paraná, Santa Catarina or Rio Grande do Sul where nearly 80% of the population defines itself as white, this may be normal. But what about north or northeastern states such as Pará, Maranhão or Bahia that are more each more than 76% non-white? Or states like Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, or many other states where the black populations are between one-third and half of the population?
On many of these programs, there is one, or at the most, two black women sprinkled between an assortment of 10-15, or 20-25 white women. On some shows, there are NO black women at all. In the history of Brazil, the stereotypical image of the beautiful, sensuous “mulata” is legendary. The term “mulata” is used nowadays as much to describe a certain type of dancer featured during the yearly Carnaval parades as it refers to a physically attractive woman of African descent. According to anthropologist Fernanda Huguenin, a mulata:
“must have a voluminous body in the shape of the curves of a guitar, and know how to dance the samba. In addition, she needs to present herself in a way that will seduce the audience, make them desire her, be it sexually or as a standard of beauty.”
As anyone who has visited Brazil can tell you, there is an abundance of this type of woman in Brazil. Brazilian “mulatas” are said to be “born with the samba in the foot”. So, if there is an abundance of this type of woman and this woman is defined as highly desirable, why is this type of woman so rare on television? Online, Brazilians are asking these questions and making note of the racist, exclusionary practices of the Brazilian media. Below, comments have been translated into English. At the bottom of the page see videos and the original comments in Portuguese.
Why do we have programs such as Pânico, Domingão do Faustão that have dancers that have no black women?
Melody: And a peculiar fact, when material is displayed on Pânico like “in search of sacred Panicat” (1) or some that need to go to the beach to show “hot” women they never talk to black women, at least I never saw one of them talking to a black woman.
Suzana: Really, unfortunately there is prejudice. And to mislead you they put one, or at the most, two black women among various (women). On Faustão, there are two black dancers if I’m not mistaken, or in Topa ou Não Topa of (host Roberto) Justus, of 26 or 27, there is one black woman, which, by the way I’ve noticed, the host himself discriminates against. He compliments and fools around with everyone but her. And then after they keep talking against prejudice, a bunch of fake moralists is what they are.
Liza: Wow, you are tripping…The majority of the programs have black dancers. If you were black, this would be an obsession of persecution. Nowadays racism is a thing of ignorant people, I think that it’s just your impression….
Hey!! They’re lacking black women on the Globo (TV network). One dancing on Domingão do Faustão, none on BBB (Big Brother Brasil) …
@ Cacette_br – Why doesn’t BBB have a black woman (on the show)? They say that the black population in Brazil is huge. So why are there women who are all alike, ‘daughters’ or ‘friends’ of someone connected to Globo network, who come on BBB (2)?
@ Cacette_br – It’s serious. Could it be that the lack of black women on Globo network is the effect of a stupid government with nearly 40 ministries? Even the MEC was shattered to give space for ministers who do a sloppy job.
@ Cacette_br – Where’s the Secretariat of Policies of the Promotion of Racial Equality (3) to demand space for blacks outside of the slums?
@ Cacette_br – It seems that in Brazil, there’s a lack of black and deficient women for Globo to hire. Black dancers don’t exist in Brazil? Why?
@ Cacette_br – In Domingão do Faustão’s group of dancers there is only one black woman. Huh!! There’s a lack of black women in Brazil? We can say the same for the disabled …
@ Cacette_br – Globo could follow the law and hire the disabled: receptionists, hosts, camera operators, cablemen … At the least, right?
@ Cacette_br – But what ‘confuses’ me is the lack of black women on the Globo network. It does novelas in the slums and doesn’t even show black actresses. Why? In order not to open space for blackness?
@ Cacette_br – And there are so many beautiful and talented black women in our slums today, all pushed aside, off the stage without an education and make to look stupid on the novelas, to serve as funk (music) groupies. Not even for hosts and dancers on the stage, are they put to good use.
Notes from BW of Brazil: Please take a look at the videos below in order to get an idea of what these programs look like. In today’s overtly sexualized media, any woman who is considering getting into the entertainment business must decide themselves what their level of comfort is with the depictions of women in any program in which a woman is not the principal host or producer. Some of these shows simply feature women as models, whole others feature women doing some type of choreographed dance routine, while still others focus on extreme sensationalism with closeups and zooms that focus on some area of a woman’s body. Women of any ethnic background are often portrayed as sexual fantasies, playthings or gyrating bodies that are sometimes not seen as complete human beings in front of the male gaze. For black women, this image is particularly troublesome as this is often the only manner in which they are portrayed. So the question for black women would be, is it better not have representation in the mass media at all or participate and play by the rules that contribute to a very one-dimensional characterization of this parcel of the population?
Bailarinas do Faustão
Bailarinas do Faustão – De Cara no Muro Parte 2 – 14 11 2010
Bailarinas do Faustão improvisam no palco do Domingão
Desafio do Faustão Bailarinas dançando funk 15 07 2012
Source: Yahoo Answers Brasil, Sem ‘Armações’ Políticas
1. Panicats is the name of the small group of women that act as stage assistants on the televisio program Pânico na Band on the Bandeirantes television network. The group is known for its revealing attire and suggestive dances.
2. BBB is Big Brother Brasil, the long-running reality show of the Globo TV network.
3. The Secretariat of Policies of the Promotion of Racial Equality (SEPPIR) and its minister have been featured on a number of posts on this blog. See here.