It is typical of the
natives of São Paulo, Brazil, that they should make
a hero out of someone whose only "talent" was driving fast cars,
making a lot of noise and polluting the atmosphere. Racing
driver Ayrton Senna was also not nearly the nice guy he is made out
to be. Alain Prost, who almost got killed by him, could testify to this.
Ayrton SennaRIP Please…
A lot of people are making
a lot of money out of the cult of Ayrton Senna, the racing driver who was
killed 10 years ago. It is impossible to pass a newsstand or go into a bookshop
without seeing books, magazines and videos about his life.
A common title or headline
has been "10 Years without Senna" as though something important
has been missing from our lives since his death. The cult is greatest in São
Paulo where Senna was born. It is typical of the natives of this place that
they should make a hero out of someone whose only "talent" was driving
fast cars, making a lot of noise and polluting the atmosphere.
Senna was also not nearly
the nice guy he is made out to be. Alain Prost, who could have been killed
when Senna recklessly banged into his car during the Japanese Grand Prix in
1990, could testify to this.
…God Save Us from
Padre Marcelo Rossi
One of the most nauseating
items among all the tributes and hagiography about Senna came from a publicity-mad
Roman Catholic priest called padre Marcelo Rossi who was to hold a mass in
remembrance. Father Rossi is the Brazilian Catholic Church’s answer to the
tele-evangelicals who shamelessly exploit the less educated members of society.
Rossi is a young man with
the kind of fixed grin you associate with the village idiot. He condescends
to his congregation and treats people like imbeciles. Watching him praying
in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary would turn the stomach of the most
There is no religious
dignity or spirituality about him. He has appeared in films, videos, television
programs and CDs and been pictured alongside anyone you care to namethe
Pope, Lula, lowbrow TV presenter Ratinho etc.
It is not surprising to
find him on the Senna bandwagon although Senna fans are generally more upper
class than his usual flock. If the Catholic Church in Brazil needs the likes
of padre Rossi to turn back the tide of evangelism then it should just give
in gracefully. As for Senna, he should be allowed to rest in peace.
Dance but No Lula
There were two big May
Day rallies in São Paulo this year. One, organized by the Força
Sindical trade union body, was held in the north of the city, while the other,
by the CUT (Central Única dos TrabalhadoresUnified Workers’ Confederation)
and took place in Avenida Paulista.
The FS event drew an estimated
1.5 million people while the CUT rally attracted an estimated 600,000 to 800,000
depending on whether you believe the police or the organizers. I went along
to the Paulista bash. which took place in bright sunshine, although the towering
inferno buildings ensured that we saw little of it.
Despite the political
dimension of Labour Day there was a festive atmosphere and lots of music and
dance. Culture Minister, Gilberto Gil, and veteran singer Djavan did a double
act while the younger crowd was entertained by pop group Jota Quest and teenybopper
idols Sandy and Junior. There were also some dull speeches by hack politicians
which no-one listened to.
Unfortunately one man
was missing: President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Some reports said
he had been advised not to attend in case he was booed and heckled but, despite
the fall in his government’s popularity, I never heard or saw any criticism
of him and am sure he would have received a warm welcome.
By choosing not to come
he let down his traditional supporters. He also gave the FS rally more prominence
than it would have had since some of the speakers there were his political
opponents and made critical remarks. This gave a misleading impression of
the scope of the opposition to Lula.
Google Brazil News, for
example, presented this headline "Millions take to streets to protest
against Lula" from a news agency called DPA appeared on a site
called globalindians. I don’t know if this DPA is the German agency Deutsche-Presse
Agentur, but the headline implies that millions of people took part in anti-Lula
protests, which is completely false.
The Culture Ministry is
reported to be drawing up a list of the 100 best Brazilian films. which will
be sub-titled and distributed to embassies abroad. Presumably the locals will
queue up to see some such marvelous films as…? Well, without trying to be
funny, I cannot think of a single Brazilian film worth watching or which would
be of the slightest interest to a foreign audience.
I can’t wait to read the
list, but I wager it will take the Culture Ministry a long, long time to find
100 films worth recommending. The latest film to be getting the star treatment
here is called Diários de Motocicleta (The Motorcycle Diaries)
and is about (don’t yawn) a motorbike trip which Che Guevara and one of his
pals made through South America in 1952, a sort of Greasy Rider rather than
The film by Walter Salles,
the same director who brought you Central Station, in 1998, has been included
among the official selection at the upcoming Cannes film festival. The Brazilian
press will be banging the nationalistic drum, as it did with Cidade de
Deus for this year’s Oscars. You can be sure of one thingit will
The antics surrounding
Diego Maradona’s recent stay in the hospital have been followed avidly here.
Brazilians have a love-hate relationship with Maradona, respecting him for
his sporting genius but annoyed that many people throughout the world think
that he was a better player than Pelé.
The television and media
here gave saturation coverage to Maradona’s treatment and the strange scenes
outside the hospital where fans kept up a vigil. On leaving hospital. Maradona
gave an interview to an Argentinean TV station which I urge you to watch if
possible. It showed that when it comes to vulgarity and tackiness Argentinean
television can easily beat Brazil.
I am not sure if the interviewer
was a transvestite but let’s assume it was a real woman. She towered over
minuscule Maradona and was wearing tight, black leather trousers. which looked
like incontinent pants. Her hair was dyed the brightest, yellowest blonde
you could imagine and came down to her waist.
She and Maradona kissed
and cuddled and, at one point, she got up, turned round, bent over and virtually
shoved her ass in Maradona’s face. For someone who was said to have been critically
ill a week beforehand Maradona responded remarkably well.
He gaped and gloated,
leered and letched, salivated and started muttering to himself. He looked
as though he was about to jump on top of her but, thankfully, settled for
another grope and cuddle session. Let us hope that Brazilian presenters like
Ratinho were not watching because, if so, we can expect Brazilian television
to sink to even lower depths than it already has.
John Fitzpatrick is a Scottish journalist who first visited Brazil in 1987
and has lived in São Paulo since 1995. He writes on politics and
finance and runs his own company, Celtic Comunicações – www.celt.com.br
– which specializes in editorial and translation services for Brazilian
and foreign clients. You can reach him at email@example.com.
© John Fitzpatrick