Thursday, September 11, 2014

#WorldCup2014 Realness Pt. 1: Rich vs. Poor




Yes, the World Cup is long over but I still have to say my piece. Many people already have a notion of Brazil as the country of coffee, soccer, samba, and sex. As a cultural worker, I suppose I'm representing the last two. I found out that it's deeper, though. Brazilians take a different attitude toward all three. Soccer is not just a game in Brazil (or in a majority of the world for that matter), Brazil is soccer's "spiritual home." Almost everybody plays, it's part of the cultural fabric. That's why this World Cup is so special.

I love that more people are paying attention to everything about Brazil now that it's hosting the World Cup, and soon, the Olympics. The vast and rich culture including its music and dances from the folk to the contemporary--there's a lot to discover and appreciate in the "country of the future."
I'm glad there are more eyes and ears on Brazil both for the fact that there's so much beauty there and also for the prospect of people broadening their perspective of the country. As your local Samba Queen, it means I definitely have to stay on top of my game while representing the art of Samba abroad. But just as important for me is the opportunity to bring attention to viewpoints not present in mainstream news, which was my goal with this post:

So several people are shocked that I'm not in Brazil for the World Cup. I'm honestly not a big sports fan, so football madness wasn't really appealing. My glamorous life of Samba Dancing in the big apple has me busy just making rent these days anyhow. After watching the Vice News World Cup reporting I wouldn't want to be there anyway, my first world guilt might get the best of me. Tim Pool reports from the ground in "Contra a Copa: The Other Side of Brazil's World Cup", showing how chaotic the lead-up to the games has been and documenting the dissatisfaction of many Brazilians with the government's prioritizing a major international event over domestic conditions and social services. Pool and his guide go from marching and encampment protests numbering in the thousands in Rio, to the largest favela (slum) in Latin America, Roçinha, where rapper Weelf gives a tour pointing out the 24-hour police surveillance cameras installed upon pacification; the Maracanã stadium where games are being held and rich fans chant for poor fans to shut up; and into Rio's new central hi-tech surveillance center where all police forces, civil, federal and military, watch over the city. Burning cars, an apparently innocent civilian disappeared, civil unrest. This is that realness the international media reported on in 2013 when million of Brazilians took to the streets sparked by a public transportation fare increase. For many Brazilians the games are out of reach because it's so expensive to get tickets, and even local street vendors have been banned from selling immediately outside the stadium. It's like everyone is invited to your house for a party but you're not allowed to leave your room. But you're not a kid, you're a full grown adult. And your parents decided to go ahead and renovate the living room but you'd have to pay to go in it. You get it. You would be protesting, too. All of this just makes me look at that Coke commercial with the cute black kids dancing a little differently. Also note the music in this piece, by DJ Babao. Gunshots are part of the baile funk beats.

Check out Vice's World Cup Coverage playlist on YouTube. 

Oh, yeah, and a quick Google search of online English-language media today returned just this 300-person protest in Sao Paulo on Tuesday reported by NDTV. So maybe football fever has taken hold and folks are wary of protesting..