The Brazilian Justice has banned a song calling it
gratuitously violent. For some observers this is a
dangerous precedent and Carlos Cardoso, the São Paulo prosecutor
who took the case, says he doesn’t feel comfortable about the ban.
By Elma Lia Nascimento
Not since the military regime that ruled Brazil from 1964 to 1985 had a song been
censored and taken off the air by the Justice Department. Not even when Gabriel o Pensador
released the song "Estou Feliz, Matei o Presidente" (I’m Happy, I’ve Killed the
President) in 1992 was there such an action. But now the rap group Facção Central earned
the distinction of having their song and respective video clip banned from airtime. MTV
Brazil showed the clip "Isso Aqui É uma Guerra" (What we Have Here Is War)
about half a dozen times before being forced to take it off the air.
Facção Central is not a big name on the rap scene. In ten years, they have recorded
only three CDs with songs that always tell the same story: violence in the slums and
streets of Brazil. That’s a subject they know very well. The band’s membersEduardo,
24, Dum-Dum, 30 and Erick, 24 are all from Grajaú, a poor violent neighborhood in
the southeastern zone of São Paulo.
The ban started when some MTV viewers called Rio’s daily newspaper O Globo to
complain about the level of violence shown in the clip directed by Dino Dragone. Dragone
also has made videos for Los Hermanos and Charles Brown, Jr. Some viewers seem to have
been affected by realistic scenes in the "Isso Aqui É uma Guerra" clip, which
include depictions of a bank robbery and the murder of two people.
Carlos Cardoso, the São Paulo prosecutor who took the case, says he doesn’t feel
comfortable about the task. "This is a delicate case," he said. "We don’t
have any knowledge of a music or video clip being forbidden for this reason. I confess
that I felt troubled, afraid that my actions would be interpreted as censorship. But the
clip is too violent, different from anything I have seen."
To which Fábio Macari, the band’s producer, retorts: "There are thousands of
films, clips, video games and many other products that display excessive violence, but
when a poor rap group from the suburbs exposes the problem, it gets punished with
censorship, prohibition. I’d like to see them prohibit million dollar productions."
Eduardo, the lyrics’ author, concurs: "I have nothing to eat, no electricity,
nothing worthwhile going on. I’m abandoned, but I’ve never started a life of crime. Am I
going to start being a criminal now, do some stupidity only because I saw a clip from this
Isto aqui é uma guerra
Isso aqui é uma guerra
(Voz de policial: "Liberta a vítima,
Vai se ferrar, é hora de me vingar
Não chora vadia que eu não tenho dó
Seu oitão é uma piada, gambé covarde
What we have here is a war
What we have here is a war
(Policeman voice: "Free the victim,
You gonna have it, it’s time for my revenge
Don’t cry, bitch, because I’ve no pity
Your 38 cal is a joke, coward cop