Note from BW of Brazil: I’m sure many of you have spent at least a little time tuned in to the countless reality shows that are now a regular part of TV programming on many TV channels around the world. Brazil is no different. While there have been many reality shows over the years, the Big Brother Brasil brand that is now in its 14th season is arguably the most popular. Although a few of the contestants have been feature d on this blog, this is no way is a signal of support for this mindless “entertainment”. There are a number of Brazilians who have picked up this also.
Besides fitting into all of the typical shock TV reality show shenanigans, the BBB brand is very typical of Brazilian TV’s obsession with what we call the “dictatorship of whiteness.” Throughout its 14 seasons the program regularly features one or two persons of visible African descent surrounded by a vast majority of folks who are usually considered white in Brazil. The new season is no different. But this post is not about a lack of black faces as that is the norm, but rather it’s about another thing that quite normal: distasteful/racist jokes or comments.
These are the types of comments or “jokes” that have been routinely said over the years that people like to simply disregard when accusations of racism arise. Whether the guy in the scenario was joking or not it speaks to the place of Afro-Brazilians in the imagination of the country. Centuries of jokes, images and stereotypes connecting African descendants in Brazil with crime, stupidity, menial labor, sport/musical talent and hyper-sexuality. This latest incident is simply another example.
BBB14: Cássio generates controversy after saying that he “went all the way through” an “African descendant” woman
Courtesy of BOL
The gaúcho Cássio Lannes, 22, became a topic on social networks and was one of the most reverberated participants on this week’s debut of the 14th edition of BBB14.
In brief exchange with Tatá Werneck on the house of the reality show, Cássio told a story that sparked controversy. In one of the moments of relaxation with the actress and his brother Allison, the advertising student said that he was responding to criminal proceedings after “went all way through” an “afrodescendente (African descendant)” woman during a sexual act:
Cássio: I know you’re very short. What do you think of a real man who is 1.97 m (6’5½”) in height?
Tatá – A friend of mine already died
Cássio – It happened to me. I’m responding to charges. Seriously, don’t laugh, it’s true. I’ve been responding to charges up to now, for murder, do you understand? Look at me and don’t laugh. You think it’s funny but I think it’s sad. I almost didn’t come in the house because of the charges. I say nega, nego (1) , because that’s what I went through…that I…sorry. Seriously. She was afrodescendente. And I thought like this, an afrodescendentes (1) is accustomed to having relations with..? With afrodescendentes. And I thought: hold up, she can handle everything. And I went all the way through her and today I’m accused of murder, you understand?”
Tatá: I think he’s drunk!
Alisson to Cássio: Go and get a drink for us
The brothers may not have taken the story seriously, but internet surfers have not forgiven him. “What a horrible human being. This is extremely perverse and disturbing”; “If it was an attempt to be funny, to prove he has a big dick, he fucked himself”, “He could be joking about these charges and I hope he was but I never saw anyone play so serious,” read the comments that followed some of the scene displayed on pay-per-view.
Even without confirmation of the truth of the case, Cássio Lannes’s family is concerned about the repercussions of the controversy. “It was a stupid joke! Clueless. Everybody in there was talking shit with Valdirene and Cássio said that nonsense, that seemed to be like a serious. It provoked anger, but he’s like that. A silly ass,” said the younger brother of Henri Lannes, who also revealed the indignation of the family. “We have the TV on 24 hours and we were concerned with and also furious about these pearls he occasionally releases on the program,” said the brother.
The family’s concern makes sense, since Article 1 of Law 7.716 of January 5, 1989, states that all crimes resulting from discrimination or prejudice based on race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin will be punished. And even if the fact narrated by Cássio didn’t happen and it was all just a “joke”, he could be accused of incitement to crime under Article 20 of the same law: “practicing, inducing or inciting discrimination or prejudice of race, color, ethnicity, religion or national origin,” with a penalty of imprisonment for one to three years and also a fine.
“Cássio is a little clueless. I really get worried because I know that it hasn’t clicked in yet and he hasn’t even dreamed about the size and impact of everything he does at home. Some bullshit can take large proportions and he is making himself look bad outside of here,” admitted his friend Brida Oliveira, who is unaware of any criminal proceedings against Cássio. “I’m sure he doesn’t have any problem in court. It was an unfortunate joke,” added another friend Mahysa Camargo.
Before even going into the house, Cássio had already gained fame after controversial posts from his Twitter account disclosed on the web. The O Globo newspaper divulged on January 7th, a message that the student posted and that started a “brouhaha” in his profile. “Longings for when owning slaves was not a crime,” wrote Cássio on the social network in November last year. The post was deleted after publication in the newspaper.
Still on Twitter, Cássio have other comments with a discriminatory bias. “Bah Friday I had to take a gun to take some shots at some of these pretty boys around here HA HA HA,” “Why is every woman on TPM (PMS) today? Go f*** yourselves and go back to the kitchen!”
Note from BW of Brazil: As we can see, the comment made by the reality show participant made a clear play on the stereotype of the hot, sexually insatiable black/”mulata” woman. In fact, his comments touch upon images of both black women and black men because, in his “joke”, he assumed that the black woman could “handle” him because, as she’s probably accustomed to being with black men sexually, and as black men are thought to be “packing”, surely she could handle what he had to offer. To be sure, his “joke” wasn’t anything that any man hasn’t heard before when just “kicking it” with his boys. Not to excuse the joke, but again, when the only image one has of women of African descent in Brazil’s mass media is the Globeleza, the Carnaval dancer or the maid or cook, these types of comments, as crude as they may be, are “acceptable” for many people. After all, an old saying in Brazil is “white woman for marriage, mulata for fornication and black woman for work.” The difference here is that he said it on TV and thus, people have to at least pretend that it is “unacceptable.” Also considering this wasn’t his first “joke” about “afrodescendentes”, you can surely believe it won’t be his last.
1. Terms used that define black, Afro-Brazilians or persons of African descent. Terms can be acceptable or offensive. For more background on this topic see here.