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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