Brazilian art: A process of vocalization of the silenced


Quézia Arruda Cunha, Reporter

Brazil is a place where conformity has always been responsible for deceiving individuals who still believe in a nation without evils.

However, voices like the first Black writer in Brazil, Carolina Maria de Jesus, expose the real social Brazilian configuration by using art as the main revolutionary platform.

In her book, “The Trash Room,” for example, she was brave enough to verbalize that “Democracy is losing its adherents. In our country, everything is weakening. Money is weak. Democracy is weak and politicians are very weak. And everything that is weak, dies one day.”

Unfortunately many Brazilians, even in the current century, believe that democracy is still perfectly intact, without any damage. According to those, democracy is strong and will not die any day. de Jesus is wrong.

Little do they know that Brazil is the fourth country that most moved away from democracy in 2020 in a ranking of 202 countries.

The conclusion is not mine; it is from the report Variations of Democracy (V-Dem) of the institute of the same name linked to the University of Gothenburg, Sweden.

In order to vocalize the truth about the real social-political scenario of Brazil, the book and the later movie adaptation “City of God,” written by Paulo Lins and directed by Fernando Meirelles and Kátia Lund, exists as a powerful weapon as a political manifestation of a critical and revolutionary nature.

From the stories of Inferninho, Pardalzinho and Zé Miúdo, the pages of the book begin to tell the dynamics and functioning of the periphery.

The work is consolidated with an omniscient narrator in the third person, who presents the facts in a deterministic way — the philosophical perspective in which there is a set of causes and effects that influence the entire functioning of the world and the human being based on connections in a certain environment.

In view of the narrative, we can identify barriers faced by these characters in getting out of this human and social condition, since the lack of family structure, health, education and security can lead to incomplete socialization.

As a result of social helplessness, the individual becomes influenced by the trivialization of violence present in the environment.

The misery that we identify in “City of God” generates in the individual the desire to improve his life based on his acquisitions, making crime the most accessible path since childhood.

The importance of the book is based on the need to expose peripheral reality, considering that it is censored and hidden most of the time. The work is inspired by real stories: Paulo Lins, the author, lived 20 years in the Rio de Janeiro favela in order to internalize this experience when writing.

“In Paulo Lins’s novel, the degraded world – violence as an unmistakable part of the Brazilian social abyss – finds its expression in the language itself, at the heart of literary form. Violence is not a mere theme, but presents itself in the texture, in the body of language,” an expert in Brazilian literature, Marcelo Magalhães Bulhões, said.

“City of God,” released in 1992, emerged in the context of a literary narrative that addressed the issues associated with the drug war and its atrocities in a deeper way:one of extreme urgency. The book opens the curtain on what was reported in the newspapers at the time, demystifying the imagination of Brazilian society far from reality.

According to Bulhões, “the perverse integration of marginality, the absence of the State in the centers of social marginality and its inability to lead the individual to the level of citizenship rights, police corruption, children in the world of crime are some of the topics addressed in the novel that is still current.”

The movie adaptation was released 10 years after the book announcement and was, without a doubt, considered the most precise recreation of what the Lins’s words wanted to vocalize.

The film production was well-recognized way beyond the national boundaries: four 2004 Oscar nominations for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Editing and Best Cinematography.

The majority of the cast came from a workshop for actors in low-income communities called “Nós do Morro.” “City of God” put lights on more than 200 Black actors, the majority of them children – the only Brazilian movie since then to have such a mark.

The scenes where the kids play with their guns and participate in real violent criminal actions are still shocking, but they are more than necessary to show how crime was always the path in which fame, status and fear could be conquered. This devastating reality is still present.

Another topic that was never so highlighted in national movies was the approach to the woman’s body. In the movie, women are treated like objects and wild animals, which seems to be a permanent vision nowadays.

On the one hand, the girlfriend of Mané Galinha, the character Seu Jorge, is raped after a quarrel with Zé Pequeno. On the other hand, the wife of Paraíba ends up buried alive to pay for the betrayal of her husband. Exposing this cruel reality was also a major milestone in the film.

Indeed, “City of God” was the landmark of national cinema and exists to this day a reference in screenwriting and audiovisual production techniques. The film opened the way for a new genre — “Favela Movie” — and brought to the seventh art the discussion of necessary themes such as social inequality and femicide.

Once again, thanks to the art, people from Brazil and outside the country could finally understand reality without euphemisms. The literature along with the cinematography was responsible to be the spotlight by which real voices could be listened to for the first time.

“And everything that is weak, dies one day,” de Jesus writes in “The Trash Room.”

Are we, as active citizens that fight for a democratic society, going to wait for the funeral?