Note from BW of Brazil: We must always remember that media has at least three main purposes. 1) To portray the times in which we live and 2) To shape the times in which we live. 3) Influence or even manipulate opinions. Through the powerful mediums of music, TV and film, we can always look back 20, 30 or 50 years and get a feel for what was going on at a particular moment in time. What were people wearing? How did people talk? What were the production standards? What were the controversies of the day? We can also ask what influence that particular medium had on society. As such, the announcement of Globo TV’s new novela can also be judged this way. In the midst of two controversies, one recent and the other ongoing, Globo TV will continue this formula on knowing the time and the day through media representations.
For several weeks, an ongoing controversy has been the Globo Tuesday evening series, Sexo e as negas. Since its debut in mid-September, the show has been marred by protesters who reject the show as being not only weak, but playing on the continuous, centuries long stereotype about the supposed hyper-sexuality of black women. The other controversy, which has raged for than a decade now, has been the arguments over the system of quotas to increase the opportunity of Afro-Brazilians of having access to federal universities. In the new series that Globo is developing, we will see an Afro-Brazilian actress portray a successful lawyer who is able to get into college and study law through affirmative action.
Now to be sure, no one can say how long the idea of this program has been in the works, but it would be foolish to ignore the possibility that the network sought to create a positive, successful character in the new novela because of the widespread depictions of black women as sex-starved, caricatures of the lower class in Sexo e as negas. But true to the Brazilian media’s consistent “place” for black women, we will also see that the positive, inspiring role will also be balanced with the very typical. I mean, there’s no way the media can show Afro-Brazilian women completely in an uplifting light, right?
Nine o’clock novela will feature a black lawyer that ascends by means of the quota system
Actress Sheron Menezes, who will play a successful lawyer who studied thanks to quotas
By Daniel Castro with info from Extra
The next Globo TV nine o’clock novela, Babilônia, will address one of the most controversial issues of our time: racial quotas and poor students coming from public schools in free universities. “We will show in the plot how the quota system in universities is important to provide opportunities for inclusion for those who studied in public school,” says Ricardo Linhares, co-author of the novela alongside Gilberto Braga and João Ximenez Braga. It will be directed by Dennis Carvalho.
In the production, which will start recording in November and debuting in March, the character of Sheron Menezes (above photo), black and a resident of Babilônia (hill/slum), in the south zone of Rio de Janeiro, only got into law school because she had the right to quotas. “She was a brilliant student. And she got a job at the prestigious law firm of the character played by Fernanda Montenegro. If it weren’t for the quota system, she would not have been able to overcome the barrier that prevents many public school students to make it to college,” defends Linhares.
In Rio de Janeiro, where the plot takes place, the quota system has been in place since 2002. In the first ten years, the State University of Rio de Janeiro (Uerj) received 8,759 students: half preto (black) or pardo (brown) half by the income criterion. The subject is controversial: proponents say it is an affirmative action; opponents say it institutionalizes and increases racism.
Ricardo Linhares warns, however, that Babilônia will not do any social merchandising nor a campaign for quotas. It will address the issue as a social element present in a dramaturgical context. The circulation of people from different classes in the same environments will be a feature of Babilônia.
“The plot of Babilônia is not about the eponymous slum, which lies in the Leme neighborhood or about life in a favela in general. We will not address drug trafficking, UPP, problems of the community, etc,” says Linhares.
“The title refers to the Babel of modern life, the confusion of everyday life in big cities, ethic and moral corruption, the dissolution of morals, as happened in the Biblical Babilônia (Babylon).”
According Linhares, virtually all the action happens in Leme, a neighborhood Copacabana, the scene of other novelas by Gilberto Braga, such 2007’s Paraíso Tropical.
“In Leme, we show the close co-existence and so Carioca from different social classes: the rich on Atlântica Avenue, who live facing the sea, the personalities of the middle class, in the internal streets of the neighborhood, and the poor of the community,” he says .
“All attend the same beach, cross the boardwalk, stroll the waterfront, on neighborhood streets, the juice shops, the supermarket. This mixture is typically carioca, where social and economic barriers are not as marked as in most other big cities. The co-existence, although natural, generates frictions and conflicts, which will be addressed in the story,” anticipates Linhares.
Alves will play the periguete (hoochie) (1) Valeska. In the story, which will debut on March 16, Juliana will be the rival of Camila Pitanga. The ex-girlfriend of the head of drug trafficking of the slum where they live, Valeska lost her post as “first lady”, but not the hottie of the community. As she likes this and doesn’t want to share the post as the most beautiful, much less to Regina, Pitanga’s character, Valeska will spend much of the novela teasing the heroine of the novela.
1. A number of posts have dealt with the “periguete” character on television. See a few here.