Since the very beginning, I’ve been a big fan of the Brazilian telenovela, America. I was attracted to it because of its main theme, the desire of Sol (Deborah Secco), the young Brazilian woman, to immigrate to my country, the United States of America.
As an American living in Brazil, I was intrigued by Brazilians who want to do the reverse, to "go north, young man/woman." I was also curious as to how Glória Peres, the author of this telenovela, would portray America and Americans.
In my previous article about this particular telenovela called "Brazil Is in Love With Sol, the Illegal Pretty Girl from America, I wrote about my sympathy for the plight of Brazilians who want to live and work in the USA, but are denied legal entry by my government. However, I must now take issue with how this telenovela portrays my fellow-Americans.
In a recent episode, Sol, after miraculously arriving on a deserted beach near Miami (after spending several days on a raft drifting between the Dominican Republic and Florida – how did she bypass the Bahamas?), runs through its streets on her way to find her infant son. She trips and falls. A nearby police officer helps her to her feet. Sol says "thank you" with her heavy Brazilian accent.
Hearing her poor English, the cop looks at her suspiciously and asks Sol where she’s from. She responds "from America" causing him to demand identification, which of course, she doesn’t have. Actually, Sol had previously been deported from the USA because of a drug charge, in spite of her marriage to an American.
The above encounter with a cop represents a distortion of the facts. The cop had no legal reason to ask Sol for identification. She was not doing anything suspicious. Someone running and tripping on the street or speaking poor English is not a valid reason to demand identification. Even Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito would agree.
Half the people in Miami are immigrants or tourists from Latin America who speak English with an accent (if they speak English at all). Furthermore, illegal immigration is not the responsibility of the local police. Instead, it is the purview of Federal immigration authorities. Why would Glória Peres include this distortion? Was it ignorance or was it something else?
However, to me, the character of May, the villain of the story, epitomizes this telenovela’s view of Americans. After losing her boyfriend, Eddie, to Sol, instead of moving on with her life, May plots to win him back.
First, she convinces Eddie that she is still his friend. When she discovers that Sol is wanted by the police, she turns her in (May visits Sol in jail and sadistically laughs in her face).
She looks upon all Brazilians with obvious contempt. When May is seduced by a Brazilian, she refers to him as a caveman. After Sol returns to the USA to see her son, May again turns her in to the police. This time, Eddie discovers her betrayal and rejects her permanently.
In the finale, when Eddie decides to go with Sol and their son to start a new life in Brazil, May is completely distraught. With tears in her eyes and her head banging against the wall of the airline terminal, Eddie’s airplane rises into the sky heading away from America. May got what she deserved.
Is it significant that a story that starts with Sol wanting to emigrate to America ends with Sol and her family returning to Brazil? Is there a message here? And why would Glória Peres include such negative images of America and Americans? Or am I just being paranoid?
Blair A. Lasky was born in Syracuse, New York and educated at the University of Pennsylvania. He is a retired accountant who has been living in São Paulo since September, 2003, giving English classes and writing novels. You can contact Blair at email@example.com.
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