Note from BW of Brazil: Race in the media is a popular topic here on the blog and for good reason. The media’s influences on the minds and perceptions of reality, as well as ideals of beauty, power, success, trends, future purchases, etc. of its viewers is a popular mechanism for not only understanding how a society sees itself, but how said society can be controlled and manipulated. We discussed this idea of media manipulation recently in a piece on the nation’s most powerful TV network, Rede Globo. In general, Globo TV is recognized as the dominant force in Brazil’s media and although much media coverage on this blog discusses Globo, other networks pop up from time to time as well. But whether we are discussing Globo, or its competitors, SBT, Record, Band and RedeTV, the physical image that represents the “face of Brazil” is pretty much the same across the board. Ie, white, white and more white.
The Rede Record network, owned by the billionaire Evangelical pastor Edir Macedo, has been nipping at Globo TV’s broadcasting domination for a number of years and for good reason. With a blend of original novelas (soap operas), sports, talk shows and news programs, Record has shown that in terms of production quality, it may one day be able to go toe-to-toe with Globo. But regardless of the network’s desire to challenge the undisputed leader, Record and the others follows Globo’s lead in presenting Brazil racially as a branch of Europe in the tropics. As pointed out in the piece below, Brazil may have the most racially diverse population on the planet, but on Record TV news, if one were to watch TV with the sound on mute, one could easily believe they were watching television in Denmark!
“Fala Brasil” or “Fala Denmark” program?
By Hélio Santos
I rarely watch free TV in Brazil. Besides Jornal Nacional of Globo TV, I see some of public TV programs. Novelas (soap operas): no way – in spite of recognizing the work and professional expertise that the country achieved in this area, thanks to a multitude of workers who work in front and behind the camera.
Today (Saturday the 11th) – when I was working out in the gym space of the building where I live in Salvador (Bahia) I had to compulsorily watch the Record TV program, Fala Brasil (meaning ‘speak Brazil’). I never use the TV in that space, but the neighbor who was already at that location turned it on. I soon saw that it was a program that was on national television (NET) and soon noticed that among the many reporters from various cities that participate in that Fala Brasil, all were, by our standards, white – almost all of them women, including the two program anchors.
The last IBGE Census (2010) reported that 50.7% of the population is preta e parda (black and brown) (jargons used since 1872). We are therefore a Brazil of mostly African descendants. From the socioeconomic point of view, there are no significant differences between the two subgroups that, technically, for decades, have been treated as a single segment. It is an anthropological heresy to denominate this Record TV program Fala Brasil. If it was done in Denmark and the Netherlands, it probably would have at least one non-white reporter, zealous one that they are of the value of diversity. In other words, viewers have to identify with who presents the program. Record, an open TV channel with statistical certainty, has among its viewers many blacks – there’s even a chance of being a black majority, as the middle class, to a large extent white, flees with reason to pay-TV.
Do not come to me with reductionism of “political correctness” that badly trained intellectuals try to ridicule in successful texts in a forever “morally incorrect” country. Here, I speak of the incompatibility between those who present the facts and who receive them at home! So I speak of the “professionally correct,” in this case in question; ultra correct!
We have this incredible country, a black woman shot that, like an object, is dragged from a police car towards a hospital and dies; a TV host being attacked by crazed racist for her success; mass murder of black youth by Military Police, as occurred in the neighborhood of Cabula recently in Salvador and finally we have a TV show with the enigmatic title Fala Brasil that looks like a Nordic television audition. As for the program, it is important to clarify that in the facts that are presented there are many blacks: the kidnapper, the woman who sells hot dogs, the pagode (music) group (all black) who appeared opposite a popcorn vendor and an obese boy who insists on eating sweets. In other words, the Brazil of flesh and bone has blacks far and wide, but those who present the reports follow an aesthetic standard that doesn’t even remotely reflect the diversity of the lush beauty of Brazilian women. It is a homogeneous white; radically white. They are such the 100% quotas for whites criticized in the mid 1990s. Twenty years have passed, but this anachronism persists improperly in a country that once imagined modernizing itself.
Action and reaction
One knows that this law of physics (Newton’s Third Law), historically, has validity not only to explain that bodies respond in the opposite direction due to a sustained pressure. Human groups, in different contexts, have acted like this with success; because it’s past time of the Brazilian black majority to position themselves. Many black leaders are politicized in their niches convinced of what they do the best. Throughout all the time that was an activist in parties I sought to escape this costume for one simple reason: Brazilian society is sophisticatedly racist. Parties – the name says it – are pieces of society, as well as the police, parliaments and courts – besides the media of course.
It has allies – it is true – in all these instances. But without autonomy there is no possible action capable of giving count of confronting this two-headed hydra that is Brazilian racism. It will not cure society without accompanied diagnosis by therapy. Today, diagnostics are available for all tastes. Therapy; no. There is a lack of policies and monitoring of those that exist and that were hard-won. Then it is necessary to develop effective strategies to break with aesthetic and cultural patterns of an incompatible media with more than 100 million afrodescendentes brasileiros (Brazilians of African descent), that the national futebol team coach suggested likes to be beaten. It is reasonable to agree with this gentleman. Note the absence of a unit that accounts for producing a reverse pedagogy of the disease of a psycho-racial background that plagues Brazil. Such a syndrome, postpones its true development – a full development where the talents, all of them, should be harnessed.
In the past, black ancestry civilized Brazil for work (350 years of slavery). It is known that, to a large extent, the culture that energizes the country is black. On the other hand, affirmative policies inaugurated changes that for centuries have been withheld and it seems that in order to consolidate the gigantic Brazil in cultural and identity terms, we have to surgically change media standards that reveal a country that we are not.
Source: Brasil de Carne e Osso