Last year I got an e-mail from a group of people that was trying to boycott the premiere of the film Tourists. They claimed that the film showed a bad image of Brazil, and that it should not be watched. They obviously did not stop the premiere, but then continued sending e-mails to prevent people from watching the film.
I, of course, watched it to see what all the fuss was about. As it turned out, the film just shows one particular man who decides to remove the organs of tourists to supply the Brazilian black organ market.
As I watched the film I pondered on the thousands of similar films from all over the world, filmed in the US, Europe, and no one complains about them. The Europeans or North Americans that watch these films along with everyone else do not feel that their nationality or country is being threatened simply because the horrors occur in their country.
Recently, Sylvester Stallone filmed scenes of his new film here in Brazil. A reporter asked him about Brazil and he said it “was great because he could blow up buildings and the Brazilians would say thank you,” or something along those lines.
This and other comments caused an uproar in the Brazilian internet community, that is already planning a second boycott.
Then there is the documentary “Triple Frontier” (Bigelow) that suggests the presence of terrorist groups in the frontier between Brazil and Paraguay. Brazilian and Paraguayan authorities both decided not to “support” the film as it portrayed a “negative vision” of their countries.
What I find amusing is that no one, with the exception of viewers of the film, Tourists, that is a purely fictional film, actually wonders why these people say these things. Maybe Stallone really did blow up everything and found it strange that everyone laughed it off and cooked hot dogs over the flames of their destroyed building (that’s what he claimed happened)…. Doesn’t that show there is maybe something wrong with the permissive nature of Brazilians? Doesn’t anyone realize that maybe this very nature is what makes them endure such high levels of corruption and mistreatment without ever complaining? Maybe Brazilians should learn from these remarks instead of hoisting senseless flags of patriotism. Maybe they should really consider reinforcing frontier patrol so people can’t cross with Uzis in their coats and never get so much as a second glance (revista Veja actually did a number on this, and the journalist strolled freely across the border with two toy machine guns concealed under his coat).
Anyone that lives in Brazil quickly notices how sensitive Brazilians are to any form of criticism from foreigners. They immediately feel threatened and get defensive, instead of sincerely questioning why people might say these things, or think this way about them (or some of them).
This also holds true in Argentina, where outside criticism is not welcome but actual Argentinians complain about their own country almost permanently. In Argentina, the world capital of psychoanalysis, this phenomenon is called “complejo del país bananero“, which is basically an inferiority complex of people from Latin or emerging countries in relation to countries in North America and Europe. This complex might seem difficult to understand to a Londoner, for example, who would simply grin if you said anything bad about London, because he or she does not feel inferior to anyone in relation to nationality. In countries such as Spain, for example, considered by some Europeans as being the “Africa of Europe”, people often mistreat foreigners from Latin countries, calling them Sudacas (Sud Americanos) in a pejorative way, while they themselves are mistreated by some UK customs officers for being “latin”.
In Brazil, however, they seem to feel so inferior that they consider anyone, from any other nationality, as being “exotic” or “chic”. I have never seen this complex so strongly as in Brazil. When I say I am Argentinian, everyone immediately changes their tone of voice and poise, and treats me better because I am not “just another Brazilian”. The first question is always, “what are you doing HERE??” I always answer that would prefer to be Brazilian than Argentinian, but they just don’t see the benefits or don’t believe me. I have often gone into heated discussions trying to defend Brazil to Brazilians.
The saddest thing is that I consider Brazil one of the safety, most humane, beautiful and peaceful countries in the world. Maybe if Brazilians realized this they would treat it better and not let people like Stallone come here and blow things up without complaints. Believe me, if Stallone were Brazilian, he would have had to sign millions of requests and authorizations simply to put his tripod in those locations.
Now it’s just a question of convincing Brazilians that Brazil is worth the effort.