12 February 2014

The Cup of Cups

The Brazilian executive branch has launched an ad campaign to convince Brazilians that this will be the Best World Cup ever. Using the hashtag #copadascopas, the attempt to put a positive spin on negative news, exorbitant spending and unfinished projects is the latest sign of the creaking Brazilian governmental apparatus. The new marketing campaign replaced “Patria das Chuteiras” (poorly translated as Country of Football Boots), which carried with it a cultural memory of the use of football to prop up the military dictatorship during the 1970 World Cup. Most of the marketing campaigns for the 2014 World Cup are in poor taste. The Visa commercials that are spreading across the country like foot fungus are particularly terrible. These are taking up ad space at bus stops, public transportation and other public spaces.

Mr. Burns= Blatter or Marin?
The ad says “todos são bem-vindos na Copa” – everyone is welcome a the World Cup. The Simpsons ad is disturbing for a number of reasons. There are no women in the lineup. The “workers” are all in radioactive suits with the nuclear plant steaming away in the background, while Mr. Burns is in his suit and tie. Here, we could surmise that Mr. Burns is CBF president Marin and that the workers are the LOC employees protected from the poisonous effects of the work they are carrying off? Or we could assume that Brazilian cities are so toxic, that only tough working class men in protective suits ( or those who have the wealth for quick escapes) can survive? Or it could mean that to come to the World Cup, middle class visitors should have their gas masks ready to confront the other group presented on the Visa commercials.

This second ad is as horrifying as it is ill considered. It is doubtful that anyone using this kind of propaganda could not know what the word “stormtrooper” means in the context of sports mega-events and the control of urban space. This is especially true given the events of the Copa das Manifestações. Stormtroopers are everywhere in Brazilian cities these days. Of course, public security is a
Drones and Shock troops!
necessary component of these events but putting an ad like this all over Brazilian World Cup host cities is basically saying to the Brazilian public that they should prepare themselves for the arrival of Imperial Forces who will act with extreme prejudice against "rebels". 

This is all happening in a context where the federal senate is debating a bill that would create terrorism as a crime in Brazil, criminalize protesters and create jail terms of up to thirty years, and in which the media cannot figure out the connections between vigilante justice, military police brutality and persecution of poor and black kids as a systemic element of Brazilian society. When the Corinthians fans lit a flare that killed a young fan in Bolivia two years back, the media was clamoring that the Bolivians had no right to hold these guys in jail because it had been an accident. When a cameraman was killed in Rio this week with a similar flare (supposedly not a bomb launched by the police), there was no investigation into the conditions of his labor (where he was sent out alone and unprotected into a violent protest) but rather a national man hunt to find the person who supposedly lit the flare. The flares, of course, are readily available to anyone who wants to buy them. In short, the stormtroopers are welcome, those who are prepared to survive in a toxic environment are welcome, their bosses can circulate unimpeded in the city and if you don’t agree to the terms set by Visa, stay at home or suffer the consequences. 


Leandro said...

Perfect analyse, today by the morning i was commenting with a work friend about the advertising at bus stop that Visa putted around the Rio de Janeiro City. I lived in Brazil and dont recommend anyone to come here.

Anonymous said...

I recently saw these ads when I was downtown. I was really perplexed by them.. They immediately struck me as being in poor taste and I was grappling with why I was so bothered by them. This blog gave a wonderful insight; I appreciate the quality analysis.

Christopher Gaffney said...

thanks for the comments. Leandro, I would always recommend that people come to Brazil as it is a wonderful country with a lot to offer visitors. Unfortunately, stormtroopers are gong to be part of that rich tableau for the next few years anyway. The ad campaign is really thoughtless and is a more gerneral indictment of the tone and intellectual level of all things Cup related.

Tibu said...

Hello Christopher,

I write this lines just to say you congratulations. I found you site looking for some information for my blog and I like it very much.

I have been twice in Brazil, a wonderful country with a lot of kind peolple, and I hope visit again.

Really interesting your post, I'll visit again!



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