a blog with cultural bulimia.

Monday, May 09, 2005


 The Rede Globo de Televisão is brazilian's major TV station, the 4th in the world. It reaches 99.9% of the country and it retains 75% market-share of both prime time audience and advertisement allocations.

Globo is a window and a mirror -- at the same time a witness of our history and an agent for social change.

Its most successfull product are the soap-operas. "No other TV product in the world creates so many behaviors, fashions and expressions like our soap-opera" says Mauro Alencar an University of São Paulo Soap-Opera Doctor (no comments). They have institutionalized what they call social merchandising: "Social merchandising denotes the intentional and systematic insertion of issues of social relevance in the plot of a telenovela or any other TV show, with well-defined educational purposes. Since social merchandising started being implemented as a systematic programme, some 12 years ago, many stakeholders have been able to use Globo's ubiquity in Brazil to advance causes that otherwise might fail to achieve the targeted audience."

This has been true for many different causes like drug abuse, the mistreatment of the elderly and homossexualism. Exposure. It creates acceptance. It is their biggest triumph: to help create and discuss some of the country's social problems. It is a very flawed method but nonetheless it works.

América”, the latest hit soap opera in Brazil, has yet to lead to a boom in emigration to the United States.

"So far, during its first month on the air, the show’s star failed to obtain a U.S. visa, and then tried unsuccessfully to enter the country illegally by crossing the Mexican-U.S. border, against a dramatic backdrop of death, persecution and the treachery of the migrant smugglers known as ”coyotes”.

This newest offering from Globo has kept viewers glued to their sets for a month, avidly following the characters’ search for a modern-day El Dorado, made in the U.S.A. (The Deadly Lure of the ”Gold Curtain”)"
I have always said that there are only two good things in Mexico: Chaves and the U.S. border.
José Simão (brazilian satiric writer)
It seems too soon for the effect of its 'social merchandising' but the facts are that the number of brazilians arrested at the US-Mexican border has grown 10 times in a year and it is becoming a diplomatic problem: Mexico is contemplating requesting a visa for brazilian tourists. Our government says the reason for the raise in numbers is the already estabilished illegal immigrants in the US sponsoring friends and family, making immigration grow exponentially. Saying it is the soap-opera is "to accuse the window for the landscape".

Not that crossing the border is a new issue in Mexico. Their government has even issued a Guía del Migrante Mexicano (Guide for the Mexican Migrant), which, weirdly, sounds more like an incitation to the illegal act:
Esteemed Countryman: The purpose of this guide is to provide you with practical advice that may prove useful to you in case you have made the difficult decision to search for employment opportunities outside of your country.
So here I am, surrendering to the two most brazilian of the brazilian costumes: watching the 8pm soap-opera and dreaming of moving to the US.