Unable as Itamar Franco appears to be to see himself
for what he isn’t, he has used his return to the political scene
as governor of Minas Gerais almost strictly to take pot shots
at President Fernando Henrique Cardoso.
Indeed, his arrival was very costly to all Brazilians.
By Brazzil Magazine
For some time it seemed as if the female buttocks, that longtime Brazilian male
preference, were losing their prestige in Brazil. Globalization and Yankee cultural
neo-colonialism made a dent in that tradition and some people believed that, influenced by
lascivious Americans, boobies had become the new national sexual fetish.
It was just a fad and quite an ephemeral one. As weekly newsmagazine Vejathe
most read and most respected Brazilian mainstream publication, which often poses as the
nation’s consciencehas shown in (mind you) two consecutive issues in August: buns
are still kings. On its August 23 issue, the national magazine of record in an article
entitled "Sábado Popozudo" (Big-buttock Saturday) illustrated with five
pictures of women in different phases of undress, revealed not without a hint of disgust
that "we’ve never seen so many derrières and braless boobs."
According to Veja, TV stations have been trying to get some extra ratings on
Saturday nightstraditionally a slow period for TV networkssaturating the
airwaves with overcharged fannies. Every commercial network presents its own concoction of
bare big buns and/or naked breasts.
At 10 PM, Globo, the almost monopolistic TV network, which prides itself on what it
calls "the Globo standard of quality", starts the lurid festival in Zorra
Total (Total Chaos). This is a reincarnation of Escolinha do Professor Raimundo (Professor
Raimundo’s Little School), a not-so-funny decades old show. The buttock highlight happens
when one of the students, Dona Rosinha, a bikini-clad young blonde beauty steps up to the
blackboard to clean it. She drives her fellow students and the home audience into a
delirium gyrating her powerful buttocks while cleaning the board.
At 10:15 PM it is time for A Praça É Nossa at SBT (Sistema Brasileiro de
TelevisãoBrazilian System of Television). The show, which consists of a man sitting
on a park bench while several comical characters pass by and stop for a little chat with
him, has been on the air for about 40 years. While the basic formula hasn’t changed and
some characters are interpreted by the same people who created them decades ago, there are
today some appealing additions: female models with big butts.
In Escolinha do Barulho (Little School of Disorder), a shameless downgraded
carbon copy of Globo’s Zorra Total, at 10:45 PM, it’s time for Fifi de Assis to
show how generous nature was with her derrière. Fifi comes to school in a skimpy bikini.
The show is presented by Record, a TV network owned by Igreja Universal, an evangelical
Low-rated and low-class Gazeta TV uses one of its star hosts, Sérgio Mallandro, to
show the well-endowed girls. Mallandro has introduced a mechanical bull in his program. To
tame the beast, girls with the most generous fannies mount them, while the cameras zoom in
on their heinies and their genitalia.
Veja cites Alexandre Gama, president of ad agency Neogama, saying that these
shows in which butts are the main dish are not just for the guys anymore. "Nowadays,
women are also interested in these attractions, even if it is just to badmouth the girls
who show their attributes on TV."
The same Veja had revealed the week before that popozuda (big-buttock
woman) has become not only a fashionable word but also one that’s bringing money to those
who know how to use it. The term popozuda is not new. Valmir Roque dos Santos, the
Rio’s rapper who is credited with bringing back the word, says that he used to hear
comedian Renato Aragão refer to women with ample derrières as popozudas in his
long-gone show Os Trapalhões (The Stooges).
The term has gained even broader acceptance when TV hostess and singer Xuxa started to
use it in her children’s shows. She has also adopted Popozuda do Planeta (Planet’s
Big Butt Woman), a song made especially for her, as one of her themes in the program Planeta
da Xuxa (Xuxa’s Planet).
There are today at least a dozen bands in Brazil singing tunes that mention popozuda
or popozão (big butt) in their title. The rock group De Falla, for example, boasts
of having sold more copies of their Popuzuda Rock’n’Roll than all of their previous
records put together. Their song was made to serve as theme for Feiticeira, a TV beauty
better known for her voluminous and tempting popozão.
Popozuda do Planeta
Bate na palma da mão
Só tem popozuda, hein
Só tem popozuda, hein
Planet’s Big-butt Girl
Clap your hands
All we have is big-butt girls, aha
All we have is big-butt girls, aha
Eu tenho a força
É popozuda pra cá
Rock’n’Roll Big-Butt Girl
Go, big-butt girl
I have the force
It’s big-butt girl over here
With an Accent
Brazil has never seen so many foreign workers. While the amount of this overseas help
is only a fraction of what the United States imports, it is still rather important for
Brazil since most of these jobs are technical and managerial positions and there aren’t
many of such positions around.
The number of foreigners who were given authorization to work in Brazil since 1997 has
increased by 56 percent, according to the Labor and Employment Ministry. While there were
24,503 foreigners working legally in Brazil in 1997 (20 percent of them were from the US),
today there are 38,310 of them.
By comparison, there are 15.7 million immigrant workers in the US, the highest level in
seven decades and they represent 12 percent of the American workforce. And there is
pressure from software companies, farmers and hotels in order that Congress would enact
legislation to admit hundreds of thousands of additional foreign workers every year. About
800,000 immigrants enter the US legally each year; another 300,000 do it illegally.
The daily average of work permits given to foreigners has increased from 34 in 1999 to
63 this year. If the same rhythm of the first semester is maintained throughout the year,
Brazil will end 2000 with 23,000 new foreign workers.
The work authorizations have a two-year validity and can be renewed for a second
two-year period. As in the US, the immigrant or his employer has to prove that there is no
Brazilian who would be able to do the job. For being partners at the Mercosul, people from
Argentina, Paraguay, and Uruguay have an advantage: they can work up to 90 days with a
Late August, in an effort to make it harder for a foreigner to get a permit, Brazilian
House of Representative’s Foreign Relations Committee passed a bill that would allow
foreign workers only from countries that would also admit Brazilian to work there. The
measure based on the reciprocity principle would require studies by the government. To
become law the bill still has to be approved by the full senate and President Fernando
Curiously, 27 percent of all the work authorizations are being given to experts in
underwater exploration. From the 1389 foreign workers who entered Brazil form January to
March, 364 were engineers, 256 were managers and 199 were chemist and physicists.
The government doesn’t seem worried with this growth of foreign workers. In an
interview with Brasília’s daily Correio Braziliense, Sadi Ribeiro, Labor
Ministry’s coordinator for immigration, declared: "The cost of a foreign worker is
very high. Besides a good salary you need to give them housing, transportation and school
for their children."
A Foreigner’s Viewpoint
Daily Jornal do Brasil published ten essays written by foreign correspondents,
writers, and scientists, all talking about their Brazilian experience. Here’s what
Christian Dutilleux correspondent for the French newspaper Libération had to say:
"I arrived in Brazil in 1985, with a group of young Europeans. We came over here
not running away from wars and poverty like our predecessors. I wanted to understand and
study new cultures and maybe start a new life here. I hoped to find a new culture and a
political revolution celebrating the end of a long dictatorship, like it happened in Spain
after Franco’s death. The turmoil of Collor’s Cruzado Plan took me by surprise. I thought:
how lucky I am, I arrived just in time in the land of future! I felt euphoric!
"But many Brazilian friends did not share my feelings. They dreamed of traveling
to Miami, wished for a scholarship in Canada, wanted to get a job in Milan. Our wishes
went in the opposite direction. On many occasions new friends would ask: "How did you
land in Brazil?" At first, not quite understanding, I would answer: "By plane of
course!" After a while I managed to feel what they meant when I discovered strange
expressions like "The First World."
"Quite a lot of Brazilians worship this concept. It divides the planet in two
opposites. One where all is perfect, people are well bred, elegant, human rights are
preserved, politicians are honest, companies are highly technical and all conversation is
intelligent. The other is a poor and dim Carnaval parade displaying misery, violence,
corruption and bad taste. Those who admire the first one, place the First World in the
northern hemisphere. It’s a large conglomerate of countries starting in western Europe and
ending with Japan, including Belgium, my homeland. Belgium is used here as a parameter of
prosperity when it is said that Brazil is a "Belíndia", a rich Belgium in the
middle of an extremely poor India.
"These concepts are extremely harmful to Brazilians’ state of mind, mainly because
it obscures and weakens their vision of the world. The notion of First World wipes out
history and geography as it stands, puts Japan and Portugal, Basques and Eskimos on the
same level, is unable to notice the rich Arabs, the needy Americans, the Irish terrorism
and France’s strikes. Utopian Belíndia transforms Belgium into a feud of wealthy
maharajas only because Belgian workers used to be the best paid in the whole world.
"Worse yet, these notions always place Brazil behind and below other countries,
like a land condemned eternally to being outside this world. Unfortunately many Brazilians
accept that thought. That is why I ask myself quite perplexed: why a native of the First
World, a Belgian, would "land in Brazil?"
"Being here could only be a consequence of some inner problem, maybe an intimate
disturbance. That was the general thought. Frequently they would try several explanations.
It must be the sexual appeal of the mulatto woman, some fancied. All avoided questions
concerning their belief in the existence of the First World that continued to be a
near-paradise, and I who fled from earthly Eden must be some kind of oddball, maybe some
degenerate…a chromatic degenerate.
"When, at any social meeting, I managed to avoid the subject of sex and mulatto, I
inevitably fell into another trap: praise Brazil! Instantly answers showered.
"Terrible. Insufferable." I was condemned to tiresome speeches on the country’s
ills. They even took turns attempting to "teach" me how awful this country is
and I should really be cautious they insisted. That’s how I found out that Brazilians were
merciless with their own country.
"But I had to deal with the other side of the coin. Months and years gone (I do
not remember how many) I found out another aspect of Brazilian patriotism. Working as
correspondent, at times I started small talk by mentioning some kind of misfortune
encountered while doing my job. Instantly I was flooded with harsh words. All against me.
Who was I to criticize Brazil in such a manner? And in Belgium nothing unlawful happens?
Pedophiles? Troublemakers? And people bathe daily? And again tiresome speeches defending
the beloved homeland, which, if I understood well, is equal to the best in-the-world
"The relationship of love and hate with their country, the make believe of a
better world on the outside and the permanent questioning of their national identity, are
profound aspects of the Brazilian soul. Fifteen years gone, I still try to understand this
country. Day after day, it fascinates me and angers me, I feel accepted and at the same
time rejected; these feelings penetrate the blood in my veins permanently. I believe that
somehow I became culturally… "mulatto", and I still don’t know why "I
landed in Brazil".
Say the Word
Funk parties, Hollywood movies, Internet games and the favelas (shantytowns),
they are all fertile ground for the creation of the new terms that don’t cease to enter
the Portuguese language in Brazil, particularly in Rio. It’s virtually impossible to
maintain yourself current since the new words most of the time don’t resist more than a
season. It is also common to see twenty, thirty-year-old slang making a comeback as if it
were brand new. That’s what just happened, for example, with pela-saco (a bore) and
de patrão (someone with prestige).
Rio’s daily O Dia has recently compiled a little list of slang being used by
Carioca (from Rio) teens:
Babou (literally, it drooled)it was postponed
Bicho ruim (bad beast)undesirable person
Choque de monstro (monster’s shock)very cool
Crocodilo (crocodile)false individual
Dar linha (to give line)to go away
Explanar (to explain)to gossip
Fala sério (talk seriously)don’t bother me
Formou (it formed)that’s it, let’s do it
Fui (I went)I’m going
Geral foi (general went)everyone was there
Já é (it already is)all’s well
Melzinho (little honey)pretty girl
No talento (with talent)perfect
Pescoçudo (big-neck guy)fighter
Que trevas (such darkness)the pits
Ralar peito (to grate chest)to go away
Tá bombando (it’s pumping)it’s cool
Tá de bobsto be aimless
Tá de patrão (to act as boss)to have prestige
Tá pegando (it’s picking)to be dating
Tá ligado (are you connected?)dig it?
Tô de highlanderI’m so so
Vai ralar (it’s going to grate)he is going to date
Vazar (to leak)to go away
Vou pra guerra (I’m going to war)I’m going to flirt
Too Cutting Edge
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 big 8 is a joke, coward cop