He’ll build a glass asylum
With just a hint of mayhem
He’ll build a better whirlpool
We’ll be living from sin, then we can really begin
–Bowie, “Big Brother”
I have been inoculated — by Greg House, M.D. — against TV Globo’s Big Brother Brasil 10 (BBB10), but not even X-men mutant antibodies can shut down the virus completely.
Every newspaper in Brazil dedicates about ten times as much space to developments in the “show of life” — references to The Truman Show are common — than they do to the details of pending legislation. A random sample of top news items as selected by the Google News algorithm:
Corinthians F.C. is the grand champion of the moment, but the “unprecedented” paredão — putting someone up against the paredão means executing them by firing squad — that ousted Angêlica is 2.5x more important than whether or not avian flu is a pandemic.
The show is hosted by “actor-journalist” and former filmmaker Pedro Biale, co-host of Globo’s Sunday night infotainment magazine, the aptly named Fantástico. See, for example
TV Globo (Fantástico) debunks “quack science” that TV Globo (Fantástico), in a past report, has uncritically endorsed.
My favorite example is this moment from another Fántasico segment:
Voiceover: Corruption is genetically determined! Just ask this doctor!
Doctor: Corrupt behavior is mainly the result of environmental influences later in life.
Voiceover: QED! The corrupt are born corrupt! Corruption is a disease without a cure!
These idiots are too lazy even to line up an expert who will actually corroborate their thesis. They simply declare that black is white and move on with their brainless diatribe.
The references to The Truman Show (Truman: o show da vida) in critical discourse on, and promotional copy for, the program — which can be hard to differentiate — prove once again that some Brazilians are completely tone-deaf to cultural irony.
The utopian planned community of Alphaville, here in São Paulo, Sambodia, for example, derived its name from the dystopian sci-fi flick of the same name by Godard.
Still, no notebook on the current cultural moment in Brazil is complete without some reference to this virulent meme, and so I offer two vignettes fresh from the morning papers.
First, digital democracy Globo style.
Digital Democacracy, Globo-Style
O blogueiro José Mello, de Limeira, no interior de São Paulo, decidiu fazer uma campanha ousada contra o lutador Marcelo Dourado, participante do “Big Brother Brasil 10″.
Blogger José Mello of Limeira, in upstate São Paulo, has decided to launch a daring campaign against fighter Marcelo Dourado, the BBB10 contestant.
O paulista criou um endereço na internet que ganhou repercussão rapidamente por oferecer um prêmio a quem votasse para eliminar Dourado do programa.
The São Paulo resident created a Web site that quickly generated buzz when it offered a cash prize to those who vote to eliminate Dourado from the program.
Source: Folha Online, which links to the site so you can go claim your easy money.
Buying votes: It will be interesting to see how Globo responds — and how this buzz will affect the secondary prediction markets, if any.
It has been some time since I checked in on such sites as Intrade. (I used to get paid to be interested in experimental economics and market structure.)
(Unwarranted suspicion: A scam to garner sympathy votes for the alleged future victim of the vote-buying scheme.)
In at least one other case, Globo cheerfully egged on readers and viewers to essentially defraud an election in another promotional scheme.
When the statue of Christ the Redeemer in Rio was nominated for that (bogus) Seven Wonders of the Modern World award, Globo made a point of explaining to viewers exactly, step by step, how it was possible to “vote early and vote often.”
You could, for example, vote via SMS from your cellphone — the operators here charge the highest rates in the world for this service — and also from the Internet. The contest Web site had no safeguards against multiple registrations and votes.
Ergo, Globo is ACORN as described by John McCain.
Cell phone penetration as of 2009: reportedly 80%(!?)
Fixed line penetration: astonishingly low, for historical reasons. (My wife remembers having to save up six months for her first phone, the installation of which cost her R$4,000.)
Internet penetration as of September 2009: 35%.
Reason hypothetico-deductively from those factoids.
In 1989, Globo conspired with a technology contractor called Proconsult — owned by two ex-(?)military intelligence colonels — to defraud the gubernatorial election in Rio, preventing the victory of “fiery leftist” Leonel Brizola.
At some points, the manipulation was so blatant that Globo’s running vote count, a direct feed from Proconsult, broadcast live, would actually show negative quantities of votes for Brizola.
Capivaralândia District 10:
The Globo standard of participatory democracy.
Ambush journalism as a humoristic form is alive and well and eking out a living on minor Brazilian TV networks, despite the gradual demise of the tele-theater of cruelty practiced by the likes of João Kleber.
The most successful example at the moment is CQG, on the Bandeirantes network, spearheaded by former Globo infotainment “actor-journalist” Marcelo Tas, who rose to fame with his impersonation of the fictitious reporter Ernesto Varela.
Varela-Tas once asked Paulo Maluf: “A lot of people don’t like you. They say you’re corrupt. Is this true?”
So, a sort of Brazilian Daily Show translation: fake journalists doing real journalism. Or do they?
(Tas also created the wonderful children’s program Castelo Rá-Tim-Bum. I love that show!)
Rede TV’s “Pánico na TV” caused a stir recently, to cite an example of the same genre, by crashing the BBB10 party.
A TV Globo estuda medidas judiciais contra a Rede TV! após a invasão de um humorista do programa “Pânico na TV”, no último dia 2, ao “Big Brother Brasil 10″, que foi levada ao ar na noite de ontem.
TV Globo is studying legal action against Rede TV! after a comedian from the program Panic on the TV! crashed the set of BBB10 on February 2, during the taping of an episode aired last evening.
Na ocasião, o personagem De Lari, que atua no quadro “O Impostor”, conseguiu se infiltrar na torcida da eliminada Tessália, obteve imagens clandestinas com uma câmera amadora e chegou a aparecer no programa ao vivo.
The character De Lari, protagonist of the the show’s “The Impostor” series, managed to infiltrate the crowd of fans supporting Tessália, since eliminated from the show, and to capture images from an amateur camera that were broadcast live on Panico.
Segundo a Central Globo de Comunicação, a emissora irá reforçar as medidas de segurança e está estudando quais são as medidas jurídicas cabíveis contra a Rede TV!.
Accoreding to Globo Communication Central, the broadcaster will beef up security and is studying appropriate legal measures.
Tessália também comentou no Twitter que pretende acionar a emissora. “Quero enfatizar que não estou satisfeita com as atitudes referentes a gravação do programa Pânico e que medidas serão tomadas”, escreveu a ex-BBB.
Tessália commented on Twitter that she intends to sue Globo. “Let me be clear about this, I am not happy about their response to the clandestine taping by Pánico and the steps being taken,” wrote the ex-contestant.
Latest update: Tessália confirms on Twitter that she has signed a contract to “bare all” in Editora Abril’s Playboy Brasil.
On Globo-Abril naked-lady synergies, see also
And a final note for cultural iconographers of the paranoid school: Note the resemblance between the lidless (blue) eyeball of BBB and the lidless (blue) eyeball of that Veja magazine (Editora Abril) cover story on (confirmed bogus prior to publication) allegations of illegal bugging at the Supreme Court.There is something eminently creepy about this relentless blue-eyed gaze staring back at an overwhelmingly brown-eyed population.
Your home is Big Brother!
Someone to claim us, someone to follow
Someone to shame us, some brave Apollo
Someone to rule us, someone like you
We want you Big Brother … Big Brother!
And then the fuzzed-out Mick Ronson outro riff.
Filed under: Brazil, Entertainment, Infotainment, Journalism, Life in Sambodia, Media, Public Relations & Advertising, Publishing Tagged: | Big Brother Brasil, cellular, computing, espionage, George Orwell, gossip, internet access, mobile, racism, surveillance, telephony, voting