Time Out – Brazil

Most people probably know this by now, but if you are wondering what to do in São Paulo or Rio, check out these Time Out Facebook pages (in English).

Time Out São Paulo

Time Out Rio de Janeiro

 

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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 51,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 19 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Documentary – Dancing with the Devil

I decided to catch up on my Brazilian films and started off with this highly recommended video, Dancing with the Devil, a documentary on the drug war in Rio de Janeiro. There are lots of similar videos out there, but this one is slightly different because it shows the lives and stories of the member of a drug squad who fights the dealers/gunmen, a pastor and ex-dealer who provides spiritual support, and drug lords, without masks. Rare footage indeed, and almost surreal, especially the scenes of the pastor praying with armed “deputies” of a drug lord.

The lives these people lead make Rambo look like Peter Pan…

The overall message is that these people would have probably thought twice about entering the drug world if they had had more opportunities in life, like quality schooling. It sounds cliché but you almost understand why they enter it and can´t leave. What alse would they do? Who would hire these people? Most of them can´t read or write.

Another interesting fact is that they all mention God almost continuously. One side thinks that God wants them to stay alive to deal drugs, while other thinks that God wants them to catch the dealers. Almost everything is placed in the hands of God, hence the importance of the pastor. Most of the statements are loaded with huge contradictions.

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Recommended Article – The World Cup Matters, but Brazil is the last place in the world that should host it.

I really, really recommend this fascinating article by Marcos Carvalho in ESPN FC World Cup Stories published on the Medium website. He manages to summarize just about everything that happened and is happening in Brazil and concludes with something I always insist on: we, Brazilians, must also assume the responsibility of the state our country is in. Perfect article!

The World Cup Matters, but Brazil is the last place in the world that should host it.

Posted in Articles | 4 Comments

The Biggest Loser – Brazilian Version

The other day I watched (for the first and last time) the Brazilian version of The Biggest Loser, that reality show where overweight people literally kill themselves to lose weight and are asked to leave the show if they don´t lose enough of it.

The Brazilian version of this show is really interesting because it very clearly reflects one of the biggest differences between the US and Brazil. Merit versus Likeability.

In the US version, as I said, the competitor who loses the least weight must leave the show, and that goes on until the very end when the biggest loser (the person who lost the most weight) gets the prize.

In Brazil it works like this: the competitors starve themselves to almost death and do lots of excruciating exercises and are weighed in front of an audience, just like in the US version. The tragic thing about it is that the audience then chooses who they think must leave based on how “nice” they are. I had to watch the painstaking process of a man who lost the most weight, an amazing 10 kilos on one weekend, having to leave the show because the audience “did not like him”.

That, to me, is the tragic reflection of just how important “being liked” is valued over “being worthy” in Brazil. The person who works the hardest, makes the most effort and has the most discipline is rejected, mistrusted or ignored because there are others that are more likeable. This also reflects that nagging complaint of most foreigners who live and work here: merit and professionalism per se are just not valued in Brazil. No matter how hard you work, if you are not nice, you won´t get very far.

Once someone actually told me that I would not get work in Brazil because I am “difficult”, but my clients all tell me I am professional, punctual and reliable, which, to me, is so much more important than being “easy”. I do, however, now that if I was always charming and hugable, I would get a lot more work in Brazil.

It´s an aspect of Brazilian society that will probably never change and probably one of the reasons professional, disciplined, hard-working and, above all, serious people are not usually elected for the best jobs. Those are reserved for school buddies, family members and close friends.

I don´t know if this happens in other countries but I am positive that the Brazilian rules of the Biggest Loser would not be as acceptable as they are here.

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Prejudice? Really?

An article I read the other day: Voices of Brazil, the models facing prejudice at home, from the Guardian, really bothered me and I just felt I had to write something about it, being black and all.

First of all, the author accuses Brazil of choosing a white couple to represent the country in the World Cup draw, which is downright incorrect. Brazil chose Camila Pitanga and Lázaro Ramos, two black actors, for the draw and Fifa rejected them and chose the two white models and couple, Marcelo and Fernanda.

Secondly, black models are rare anywhere in the world, Why? Because we are a minority in most countries and women find it harder to identify with women of other races and because models are chosen for other reasons, not because of colour. I mean, the world´s catwalks are not exactly abundant with Asian models, are they? People should never be forced to choose someone because they are this race or that race. That, to me, is racist.

Maybe black models have more chances outside Brazil, but it is precisely for the “tropical” look that they are chosen so being from Brazil might even be a bonus. Countries where there is a low population of black people are usually the ones who hire them the most. But again, so what?

I just wish people would stop whining about idiotic things and start acting to improve the serious things this country has to change. Picking on a country for just about everything is not going to solve anything.

There, I´ve said it.

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Rolezinhos Explained – A reflection of inequality in Brazil

A fascinating new phenomenon that has recently emerged in Brazil is the “rolezinho”, which is the literal translation of “walk around”(e.g. vou dar um role) like when we decide to walk around the shopping centre or streets. The fascinating thing about this new trend is that it is a direct reflection of the extreme inequality there is in Brazil.

A group of people, usually from a same community, such as a favela or “sem teto” (homeless people) notify the press and organize a trip or rolezinho to a shopping centre. The interesting thing is the reaction of the shop owners, attendants and other regular customers, usually of middle and upper classes. They immediately grab their cell phones to call the police and clutch their bags from fear of being robbed. The presence of the press usually strips the police of any reasons for violent action because these people, like all of us, have the human right to be there and simply want to visit a shopping centre. This action forces middle and upper class Brazilian to face their own bias and prejudice without any excuses or justifications. They have no where to run.

The entire action is obviously organized to convey a message and protest against the discrimination these communities endure day after day by people of a different and often foreign social class.  The result is absolutely fascinating, especially when they decide to eat at the food court or use the restrooms. The panic they cause is a punch in the face of Brazilian society in general and a clear message delivered by a specific segment of society simply by being there.

It took me a while to understand what all the commotion was about and I initially thought people were actually protesting in shopping centres, but then, after watching the video, I realized it is all about people simply wanting to visit a shopping centre that has been invisibly “off limits” to certain segments of the population for so long.

I think this is all amazingly positive trend and hope it does not attract wrongdoers and people with bad intentions. If the rolezinhos manage to maintain the peaceful approach and very powerful but silent message they are trying to deliver, I think this will be one of the most successful revolutions of Brazilian society, and proves my assumption that Brazil is not a racist nation, it is a classist nation.

Here, the 19 minute video “So quero conhecer o shopping” (I only want to visit the shopping centre). Enjoy.

Posted in Opinion, People | 3 Comments