Note from BW of Brazil: In past posts, we have seen numerous examples and proof of the vast under-representation of Afro-Brazilian actors in Brazilian film and television. We also have a wide array of evidence that shows that Brazil’s media intends to continue portraying black characters in traditionally stereotypical roles. But in response to this, we have seen in recent years a number of Afro-Brazilian groups addressing this issue in their own creative ways, telling their own stories and revealing their own perspectives, which are for the most part, invisible in the mainstream.
Just over the past few years we’ve seen a number of intriguing pieces of black theater and independent black films that are being recognized by an international audience even though Brazil continues to ignore them. Recently, in Rio, the short film K-Bela debuted to critical acclaim with its portrayal of the issues black women go through in terms of race and beauty. And in Bahia, a family group of actors have produced and starred in a series of commercial-like videos that bring black invisibility in product advertising to the forefront. The videos have been recorded especially for You Tube, an idea that another group of black actors in Bahia, featured below, is also making use of. See the videos below.
Black people on Youtube: Ouriçado is Black Humor to blacken the Internet
By Silvia Nascimento of Mundo Negro with contributions and photos courtesy of Correio Nagô
Denegrir or to denigrate means to torna-se negro (become black) and it’s in this way that the You Tube channel Ouriçado, takes its place to attract the public to reflect on what it means to be black in Brazil, by means of humor.
The videos are produced by actors of the Oficina de Performance Negra (Black Performance Workshop) put on by Bando de Teatro Olodum (Olodum Theater Band) – which includes names like Lázaro Ramos and Luiz Miranda – of the free theater course of the Federal University of Bahia, as well as guest actors.
Directed by Leno Sacramento, who is also an actor of Bando de Teatro Olodum, the first of the videos, with an everyday scene in which veiled racism is put into practice, is now available for access. In the cast are Elcian Gabriel, Taimara Liz, Tainara Arão, Heraldo de Deus, Naira da Hora with the production of Luciene Brito. In the beginning, the work highlights ‘white face’, an irony of ‘blackface’, which marks the history of racism in audiovisual productions including that of Brazil.
The group also warns, “Ouriçado didn’t come about simply to provoke laughter. It comes with the purpose of arousing their critical, political and social sense given what we live. So don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy, share and comment, and remember the laughter in this case is just a detail.”
Mundo Negro chatted with Heraldo de Deus, one of the project’s producers.
Where does the inspiration for creating the videos come from?
Our itineraries are unfortunately inspired by the day-to-day, they’re a reflection on our society. All we seek to portray is not at all different from the reality of black and periphery youth in Salvador (Bahia) and what we’re used to seeing on the news and advertising.
How often are the recordings of the videos?
Currently, for still not having own materials (different than Glauber Rocha, we have the ideas in our head, but we still don’t have a camera in hand). Our recordings have taken place monthly and we have utilized most of the time our own homes as the set. The goal is to be able to increase our production capacity so that we can produce and publish more than one video per month, but for now it’s what we do.
Does Ouriçado have any sponsorship or is it done with your own resources?
We have no sponsorship. We have some supporters, some of them have left along the way. The camera and technicians are ceded by the director of Audiovisual Board of the State of Bahia Cultural Foundation (DIMAS / FUNCEB) and all expenses offset and pre-production has also come out of our own pockets. If any reader of the Mundo Negro site is interested in sponsoring us, we will accept very willingly!
As how has reaction been?
The feedback so far has been positive, being able to give visibility to black artists in our town (we have a 90% black population but we don’t feel represented on TV, including local advertising and not in some other web channels – there are always two or three in a universe loaded with very competent black artists) and really because of this we satire the practice of blackface in most of our productions.
There are those who call us racists who think that our videos are positive reinforcement of something so negative, Ouriçado didn’t come about with this objective. We really want is to put a finger on the wound, it is to show something that often goes unnoticed, but what’s in front of our nose, every day, every hour.
Some of our videos already have a thousand views and mainly the fact of becoming a protagonist in a daily struggle that is so much ours is the greatest return we can achieve. Knowing that our videos have been shown in classrooms, proposing a reflection on society and allowing us to dream of a reality where skin color is no reason to differentiate.
Source: Mundo Negro, Correio Nagô
Isn’t their use of a white mask a bit dangerous? People could simply start using it as a justification for use if black face (“see? they do it too!”). I understand what they are trying to do and I sympathize but I am not sure it will have the effect they are wishing. Specially because if this in any way a message to white people is a fruitless one. No white person will get it or feel offended by it. Not sure, just thinking out loud.