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Brazilian Culture: A State-Funded Bordello

Brazilian 
                Culture: A State-Funded Bordello

Brazil’s
culture gigolos managed to revoke the reactionary
law of supply and demand and shove their made-in-Brazil
movies down the throats of the movie-going public. What is
left in the market is the domain of the Americans. Brazil also

has state theatre, state book publishing, and state music.
by: Janer
Cristaldo

Gláuber
Rocha
In this country, which complains
about incentives to production outside Brazil, not a single
day passes without, in some sector of the so-called cultural
world, somebody asking the government for “incentives
to culture”.

There is
no lack of laws in this area: the Rouanet law, the Mendonça
law, the Audiovisual law, the Fazcultura law, and so forth.
As culture, in general, they include those asking for handouts
from shows, films, or publications linked to show business,
all for-profit enterprises.

It is as
if the artist—or cultural agent, which seems to sound
better—were sending a message to the taxpayer: “in
the name of culture, turn over your taxes to me, because I want
to live comfortably”.

Earlier
this month, the film producer Luiz Carlos Barreto, known as
Barretão, called those who were demonstrating against
the Audiovisual law culture gigolos. Not that these gentlemen
want to kill the goose who laid the golden egg. They just want
their eggs to go a different way. And for public money not to
pass through company coffers, and for private money to be invested
in culture.

The
disagreements are only about the way to steal from the taxpayer.
Barretão, feeling his position as a gigolo threatened,
has gone on the offensive, in defense of 500 million reais (US$
160 million) released to his guild each year:

“Cinema
is an industry under strong international pressure, competition
that makes it difficult for it to sustain itself. And the survival
of the cinema is a question affecting the survival of Brazilian
society. The battle for the audiovisual is now the principal
battle of the modern world, the defense of audiovisual content.
The country that does not enter this battle will not survive
as a nation.”

Translated:
Brazil can sink as a nation, if the taxes you pay do not go to
finance productions such as Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands
and Que É Isso, Companheiro? What is more, Barretão
is defending family interests. His son, Bruno Barreto, also needs
to make a living.

I, who have
not seen a Brazilian film for more than thirty years, must do
penance. I am an enemy of the nation and of Brazilian society.
I did not imagine that the survival of Brazil depended upon
the Brazilian cinema.

Fernando
Collor de Mello, the Brief, may not have pleased the national
structures of power. But when he was inaugurated, in 1990, he
made not only me, but all Brazilian taxpayers happy: he eliminated
Embrafilme.

With one
stroke of the pen, he ended the party for a private sector which
loved guaranteed comfort at State expense. That is, with our
money, since the State produces nothing and earns nothing. This
was one of the reasons for its fall.

The cinematic
gigolos went hungry for four years, but didn’t lose their
appetite. In 1994, through the Audiovisual law, they reached
their hand once more into the pocket of those who earn their
salary honestly.

Patronage
is so attractive that even the TV networks have already been
thinking about how they get hold of this inexhaustible wallet,
that of the people, in order to produce their trash.

Under
the Lula administration, the gigolos have become even more daring.
Through the decree no. 4.945, issued stealthily during the New
Year’s celebration, each one of the 1800 movie houses in
Brazil will have to dedicate 63 days of its programming to Brazilian
cinema. In 2003, only 35 days were required.

The gigolos
managed to revoke this reactionary law of supply and demand
and shove their products down the throats of the movie-going
public. (What is left in the market is the domain of the Americans.
Only by some miracle will you be able to see a German, Italian
or Finnish film nowadays.)

It
is not just blacks who want quotas. Film directors are people
too. But abroad, the president belches to the defense of free
trade, and brandishes his rude verbiage against state incentives
for production.

Of course,
cinema is not the only sector of the leisure industry protected
by the State, for the use of the friends of the king. In this
supposedly capitalist country, we have state theatre, state
book publishing, and state music.

Recently,
the government resuscitated the Pixinguinha project, buried during
the Fernando Henrique Cardoso administration. Musicians will go
out through all of Brazil, pushing their songs to audiences that
were never consulted about what they would like to hear, but who
will be compelled to pay to hear what they did not ask for. Who
benefits from the crime? Musicians, of course.

As if this
obscene sacking of public funds, made possible by corporativist
laws, were not enough, a few days ago something unusual in the
way of state corruption took place in the center of São
Paulo. The center of the city was taken over by a gay parade,
which has been going on for seven years now.

It
is even understandable for gays to parade, although I find all
sexual exhibitionism in the streets particularly disagreeable.
What is hard to understand is that the promotion of the event
received support from the Lei do Mecenato (Law for Patronage)
of the Ministry of Culture, being awarded 503,000 reais (US$ 162,000),
from individuals and corporations, under the rubric of fiscal
incentives.

Already
last year, the Gay Pride Association, the entity promoting the
event, managed to mug 441,000 reais (US$ 142,000) from the taxpayer.
The government also directed 43,000 (US$ 14,000) reais from
the National Fund for Culture to support the Bahian version
of the Gay Parade, which took place last week in Salvador.

"We
are not directing resources to a social movement, but to a cultural
movement”, the actor and secretary for Identity and Cultural
Diversity, Sérgio Mamberti, said by way of justification.
"The ministry’s concept is broad and modern.”

In this
incredible country, homosexuality is culture. And to go further,
it has become a State matter. Soon we will have Homobras. Homosexuality
belongs to us. (An allusion to Petrobras and its old slogan:
"The oil belongs to us.")

Brazil shines forth among nations. We nationalized gay.


Janer Cristaldo—he holds a PhD from University of Paris,
Sorbonne—is an author, translator, lawyer, philosopher
and journalist and lives in São Paulo. His e-mail address
is cristal@baguete.com.br.

Translated
from the Portuguese by Tom Moore. Moore has been fascinated
by the language and culture of Brazil since 1994. He translates
from Portuguese, Spanish, French, Italian and German, and
is also active as a musician. Comments welcome at querflote@hotmail.com.

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