I am told that one of the ways to improve my portuguese is to watch brazilian TV programmes, but I have to admit, I am struggling to find anything I want to watch over here.
Last Sunday, my father-in-law switched over to a programme called Silvio Santos which he joked (I hope!) was as much a part of Brazilian TV culture as the famous novelas. I watched in dismay as a group of scantily-clad young women danced about on the stage with their boobs pushed up and their bums hanging out. If this wasn’t weird enough, a cartoon character appeared singing in front of them and I burst out laughing. How is this kind of programme even made in this day and age, never mind popular?!
I can’t remember seeing such an embarrassingly sexist display since the days when a female model would smile and point at the prize on a game show decades ago. And this isn’t the only prime time TV programme in brazil to feature them. (There is also Domingão do Faustão). Whilst I’m sure that the dancers on this show are actually proud to be there, I felt very sorry for them to be portrayed in this way, and the feminist in me was annoyed.
Then the show’s host, Mr Silvio Santos himself, appeared in all his plastic fantastic glory. I think I would put my guess at his age at around 70. If Wikipedia is to be believed, he’s actually 82, so perhaps his surgery wasn’t entirely unsuccessful, depending on how you perceive beauty. However, his entire audience is female with an average age of 25 at most. I found it extremely uncomfortable watching him licking his lips as he threw money in the air and watched the young girls scramble around on the floor for it, butt’s in the air.
Now, he is probably a perfectly innocent old man who doesn’t want to accept his age and loves his job, pressured to look younger by the shallow media industry in order to continue his career. It is no secret that the media industry discriminates against people who are not perceived as beautiful or young enough right around the world. Still, I couldn’t help thinking it was all rather sad and strange.
Following on from the sad plastic face of Silvio Santos and the singing cartoon, there is the popular breakfast show Mais Você, presented by Ana Maria Braga and the random cartoon parrot. (For any British readers, it would be like replacing one of the ‘This Morning’ presenters with a cartoon parrot). This lady can hardly move her face. Again, she seems to be a long-standing TV presenter, probably successful and beautiful long before she went under the knife, and at least her programme seems mildly interesting in parts. Just don’t get me started on what the parrot is doing there…
Lastly, I began watching Flor do Caribe, a new Brazilian soap opera. The very first thing I noticed was how none of the lead characters have brown eyes. I am living in Belo Horizonte, the novela is set in the North East of Brazil: in both places, brown eyes are by far the most common. Why then do they only choose lead characters with bright blue or green eyes? I think it sends a completely unfair and untrue message about what is beautiful.
I am going to come back to the topic of plastic surgery in Brazil at a later date. For the time being, I will continue to scour the brazilian TV networks in search of something worth watching!