Category Archives: Media

Brazil in 23 MAD magazine covers

February 1977 - Dona Flor e seus dois Maridos, film based on Jorge Amado's book, huge international success

Brazil has been – to put it mildly – a challenging market for the publishers of MAD, the longest-running humor magazine of the US. It had to change publishers halfway due to bankruptcy and faced all sorts of economic troubles. Initially, the Brazilian version had 103 issues published between 1974 and 1983. A second series, with 158 issues, was published between 1984 and 2000. The third series, with only 46 issues, lasted from 2000 and 2006, and the last series began in 2008 and is still going on.Some great cartoonists, such as Ota, Jaguar, Caulos and Nani worked during some of these phases.

You can learn more about its history in the (predictably) un-official homepage, the source of all covers published here. Continue reading Brazil in 23 MAD magazine covers

Big Brother and same sex union reveal a tolerant Brazil

Jean Wyllys, a journalist born in a poor family in the countryside of Bahia, is one of the main leaders of the Brazilian gay movement today. In the last few days he was all over the country’s media, celebrating the unanimous approval  of same sex civil union by the Supreme Court last Thursday. The decision introduced a series of new rights for homosexual couples (the last Census indicates that there are 60,000 such unions in the country, half of them in the Southeast region). Now, gays and lesbians can, for instance, buy a house and pay taxes together, extend to the partner their health plans, obtain a pension in case of separation, adopt the partner’s children and inherit their companions’ assets.

The decision illustrates a subtle, but important change in Brazilian society. Even if violence against gays is still prevalent, the majority of the population seems to be getting more tolerant. These days, coming out is more acceptable and, in some cases, even rewarded. Continue reading Big Brother and same sex union reveal a tolerant Brazil

Sinatra sings the excesses of Brazilian coffee

No commodity says Brazil as much as coffee. This year, the country’s coffee exports should reach US$ 7 billion and the internal sales will be also huge: each Brazilian consumes an average of 6.4 kilos of coffee per year.

Frank Sinatra was, for a while, the main ambassador of Brazilian coffee abroad, thanks to his 1946 “The Coffee Song”,  that chartered number 6 in the US. With lyrics by Bob Hilliard and music by Dick Miles, it makes sarcastic references to the omnipresence of the drink in the country – “the politician’s daughter was accused of drinking water and was fined a great big fifty dollar bill” – might be seen as a criticism or despise, but the truth is it helped reinforcing the case for Brazilian coffee – a strong brand till these days. Continue reading Sinatra sings the excesses of Brazilian coffee

Boimate – a fruit perfect for pasta sauce

It happens everywhere and Brazil is no exception – every year, on the 1st of April , a distracted journalist believes in a lie told in honor of April Fool’s Day. When I worked for Gazeta Mercantil, once the main financial daily published in the country, someone produced a fake press release that informed that a certain automotive industry was promoting a recall because a new car model was found out to be extremely dangerous. It would eject the passenger’s seat and lose its four doors as soon as it reached some speed. Everybody laughed in the newsroom – except for a young reporter (in journalism slang, a foca, a seal, always with the nose in the air, trying to flair what is going on) that believed it and produced a note that was published next day.

But the most famous episode involving the lack of good sense of a Brazilian journalist on April Fool’s Day happened  in the early 80s. An editor of Veja – till these days the main news weekly – read an article in a German magazine about two scientists working at Hamburg University – dr. McDonald and dr. Wimpy. According to the text, they accomplished a small miracle. They had fused cells of tomato and cattle, enabling the production of fruits that were half vegetable, half animal. Perfect for a spaghetti sauce. It was, of course, a practical joke that gave obvious hints that it was a fake (Hamburg University? McDonald and Wimpy – well-known fast-food restaurants?). Anyway, Veja dedicated a whole page to this prodigious discovery, baptized “boimate“, half boi, half tomate.

One more curiosity about the dangerous flirt of Brazilian journalists with April Fool’s Day: the 1964 coup that started the military dictatorship happened on March 31. The legend says that several journalists neglected their duty of reporting it, believing it was some sort of bad taste joke. Unfortunately it was not.

10 memorable soap operas

You may hate soap operas – but you cannot deny they are a great representation of the Brazilian people’s creativity and state of mind at a given moment in history. Here are 10 stories that glued the country to the sofa, launched fashion trends and new slangs.

1968 – Beto Rockfeller

Created by now extinct Tupi TV, this soap began a small revolution in Brazilian television, that so far was producing only stories based in Mexican tearful melodramas. It created a national soap opera language, introducing slang, naturalistic interpretation and the use of Brazilian songs as scores.  It obliged Tupi’s main rival, Rede Globo, to change its approach.

Continue reading 10 memorable soap operas

10 classic Brazilian commercials

One year ago I published a post with some of the Best Brazilian ads. Lots of readers loved it – and one complained that none of the commercials included black actors, a chronic problem of Brazilian TV that is slowly improving.

Here is another series of memorable ads – again, sorry, only two black boys as supporting actors. Opening this post, “O primeiro soutien ninguém esquece” (The first bra nobody forgets), from 1987. It is one of the best coming of age ads ever produced in the country. Let me alert: this and the last two are a little erotic. Well, another characteristic of many Brazilian commercials.

Continue reading 10 classic Brazilian commercials

Brazilian TV on the internet

by phrenzee via Flickr

You live abroad and want to watch Brazilian TV from time to time – because it allows you to dive into the country’s culture, you want to learn the language, or just because you miss home. Depending where you live you can pay for a cable service, but this can be quite expensive. Here in New Mexico (a state with small Brazilian community), I was asked an extra US$ 100 monthly payment if I wanted to have access to TV Globo. I would also need a second antenna. I declined, of course.

So, I began to look for websites that offer free live Brazilian channels. If you ever tried to do this, you know that some websites don’t work in certain parts of the world. Others offer bad image quality and some are fairly unstable – meaning, sometimes the connection works, sometimes not. So, please, don’t hate me if any of the below is less than perfect. And send your feedback in case you found better options. As you will see, I favored  websites that won’t oblige you to register or download software.

If you want my opinion (not that you asked), you should try only Globo (although this one is debatable), TVE, GNT and Canal Brasil. These will probably be more rewarding than the other options.

So, here is what I found: Continue reading Brazilian TV on the internet

10 brains you will love

Don’t miss this opportunity: great Brazilian artists, journalists, scientists, businessmen and philosophers speak their minds in the new TED conference series produced in São Paulo.

Some highlights (for the versions with English subtitles, click on their names and make sure the CC button, that turns on the captions, is on):

  1. Regina Casé is the comedian who founded  Asdrúbal Trouxe o Trombone troupe in the seventies, then gave life to memorable characters of the comedy show TV Pirata, in the eighties. In 1989, she met researcher Hermano Vianna and this led to a turning point in her career. Together, they created a group of studies and professional partnerships that caused her to shift the focus of her work from art to anthropology. This partnership gave way to Brazil Legal, Muvuca, and Central da Periferia, among other projects that bring to the little screen the realities of the country.
  2. Fabio Barbosa, president of the Santander Group Brazil and my former boss, one of the leaders of the debate about corporate responsibility and sustainability in the country. A brilliant man with a very advanced vision.  Since 2000, he developed a strategy at Banco Real (that now belongs to Santander) that includes offering lines of credit for companies that wish to comply with environmental standards and cutting companies that harm the environment off its client list (I was part of the team in charge of these cuts). The plan became the object of a study at Harvard University. Continue reading 10 brains you will love

Healthier Brazilians

IBGE, the Brazilian bureau of statistics, released today the 2008 edition of its Pesquisa Nacional por Amostra de Domicílios (Pnad), a reduced version of the census. In my latest post I quoted an economist who, based on this report’s data, concluded that Blacks have consistently improved their financial situation in the last 15 years. The statistics published today highlight the state of the country’s health.

These are the main conclusions:

  • 77.3% of the interviewees consider themselves healthy or very healthy (this percentage is higher in the upper classes). Only 3.8% said their health was bad or very bad.
  • On the other hand, 11.2 million people over 14 informed they have physical limitations. For them, it is difficult to walk 100 meters (328 feet) or to go to the bathroom by themselves. This is a slightly growing trend that affects 7.5% of all men and 9.1% of women. Among the elder population, 27% face that type of restriction. Continue reading Healthier Brazilians

Scary Brazilian lullabies

Photo by Alan L/Flickr
Photo by Alan L/Flickr

Most Brazilian lullabies and children songs are scary like hell. Some of them are not exactly child-appropriate. Or human-appropriate.

Check this hit parade:

  • The big classic “Atirei o Pau no Gato”, that says: I hit a cat with a stick, but he didn’t die. Mrs. Chica was surprised by the cat’s cry.
  • What about the morbid “A Canoa Virou“: the canoe turned down, because someone let it happen: [name of the kid] didn’t know how to row. If I were a little fish and knew how to swim, I would rescue [the kid] from the bottom of the sea. Continue reading Scary Brazilian lullabies