Saturday, 24 November 2012


By Alexandre Figueiredo

The most of cultural problems happened in Brazil are results from a serious social values crisis, brought since the coup of 1964. The worst thing is that, since the 70's, brazilian intelectuals were formed by neoliberal ideologies worked by social cientists as sociologist and former brazilian president Fernando Henrique Cardoso.

Therefore, brazilian cultural thinkers rised to media defending the "mass culture", making the opposite way from the path traced by worldwide known thinkers as Theodor Adorno, Guy Debord, Pierre Bourdieu and the still alive and active Umberto Eco and Noam Chomsky.

Otherwise the Europe and North America tendences to have intelectuals questioning the "mass culture", having no fear to overthrow totems blessed by the media entertainment, brazilian intelectuals prefer to defend the brazilian "mass culture" icons, accusing anyone who question these icons as "prejudiced".

"Prejudice" is the fashion word, in the latest ten years. And brazilian intelectuals use this word to the extreme. And there's two main intelectuals who have commitments to defend the "mass culture", for the pretext and pretension to ensure the "folklore of the future".

And what's the brazilian "mass culture" from the nowadays? This "mass culture" is so called by me as "brega-popularesco", the "brazilian mid-of-the-road". There's a pretending culture, not really from popular roots and not very national-made identity.

The "brega-popularesco" was emerged from the "brega" music succesfully played in the radio stations in the mid and late 60's and 70's. The early "brega" music consists of false boleros, diluted country music, pastiches of caribbean music and ridiculous forms of the disco sound.

The "brega" music was a soundtrack from the dictatorship period, and was diffused by radio stations who supported the militar government at that times. But one intelectual, a historian researcher and writer Paulo Cesar Araújo, had very popularity in his midst after releasing his thesis that the "brega" or "cafona" idols were seriously censored by brazilian dictatorship.

Of course. There's so much difference about to be censored by politic ideas and to be censored by talking about sex. The "brega" stars talked about love frustrations, sexual situations, patriot exaltations and childish poetry. Meanwhile, Paulo César Araújo insisted that the "brega" idols, as Waldick Soriano, Odair José, Paulo Sérgio, Benito di Paula and others were censored by the same reasons like the protest artists.

Not really. These "brega" stars exactly equaled, in Brazil, as the well-behaved 50's teen stars as Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, Ricky Nelson, Neil Sedaka and Paul Anka. Odair José is the brazilian equivalent of Pat Boone and Benito di Paula is Paul Anka's equivalent. Just reasonable hitmakers, not genial artists.

But Araújo, in his book Eu Não Sou Cachorro Não, insisted that "brega" idols were revolutionary and he tried to prove that they were so rebel and "wronged" in popularity. He lost several pages of his book to prove that the song that gave the book title, Waldick Soriano's "Eu Não Sou Cachorro Não" (a false bolero with lyrics about love frustrations), was a protest song.

To reinforce the delusional theory, Araújo described a students group classwork from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica college from Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, made in the 70's. According to Araújo, the students interviewed common people, including construction works and maids, and "concluded" that the lyrics from "Eu Não Sou Cachorro Não" can be viewed as the working class people's frustrations song.

Very pretentious thesis. The song intention is to say about love frustrations, and that's all. But the conspiratory thesis from Araújo comoved so much readers and it became to be the official thesis. "Brega" music is officially known as "brazilian protest song", leaving aside true protest singers as Geraldo Vandré, Chico Buarque, Sérgio Ricardo, Taiguara and others.

The Araújo cry pulled other intelectuals became to do widespread campaign for the brazilian "mass culture" of "brega-popularesco" rhythms and idols. Monographs, documentarys, articles, news reporting and other discursive resources begun to defend the "brega" tendences and its derivatives.

One of these intelectuals is anthropologist Hermano Vianna, brother of brazilian rocker Herbert Vianna, guitarist and singer from the power-trio Paralamas do Sucesso. While Paulo César Araújo concentrates his attention to the old "brega" stars, Hermano goes to mind about the recent derivative tendences, specially the "funk carioca", the brazilian translation of the US Miami Bass.

Several intelectuals decided to made their campaign. The Folha de São Paulo's dedicated pupil, Pedro Alexandre Sanches, defends the same themes of Hermano Vianna but evoking some approaches from Paulo César Araújo.

Inspired by Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Francis Fukuyama ideas - Sanches rigorously translated the End of Story theory to brazilian music, placing this "end" at the Tropicalia beginning in 1967 as Fukuyama placed the "end" at the Berlin Wall overthrow in 1989 - , Sanches tries to be a pretentious left-side intelectual, but his ideas were clearly inspired by neoliberal theories applied to brazilian culture.

Ronaldo Lemos, attorney and technology specialist from the Fundação Getúlio Vargas college, is other intelectual dedicated to the "brega" culture. He diffused the "tecnobrega" phenomenon from Belém, the capital of the brazilian state of Pará, doing several expositions and writing a book, Tecnobrega - O Pará reinventando o negócio da música, with the collaboration of Oona Castro.

Other thinkers and propagandists, including musicians, movie makers, celebrities, social scientists and others goes to make a big campaign for this brazilian "mass culture". It seems convincing and credible, but everything these intelectuals do is to defend market principles leaded by brazilian radio and TV broadcasts and label industry rules.

The true popular culture will be injured, because "brega" never matches to the real popular traditions and the real culture based from the community relationships. "Brega" is just a "popular culture" brought with the help and support of the media executives.

Unfortunately, rare is the person in Brazil who doesn't need to think the society with mercantilist eyes, and can make differences between the "mass culture" and the authentic popular culture.

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