CARNAVAL ROASTED BOLSONARO. HIS RESPONSE? TWITTER PORN
March 12, 2019
“Ei Bolsonaro! Vai tomar no cu.”
“Hey, Bolsonaro, go fuck yourself!”
In Portuguese, this phrase disparaging Brazil’s far-right president, who is an unconditional fan of Donald Trump, could be a rhyme, and it was a familiar cry on the nation’s streets during carnival. The country’s annual Carnaval celebration is known to bring together hundreds of thousands of people on the street, with costumes, glitter, and colors. But it is also marked by political causes. And this year, the political tone increased in response to a government that seems to push back against all social and cultural freedoms and non-traditional behaviors.
During the blocos, street parties common during carnival, it was easy to find people dressed in orange, or dressed as oranges. (The fruit as a costume.) This was an allusion to a growing scandal surrounding the PSL (President Bolsonaro’s Partido Social Liberal, the country’s conservative party), and their launch of ghost candidates — or “orange” as they are called in Brazil — in order to receive more money. Campaign finance is a messy business everywhere, but in Brazil, the 2017 congress created a Fundo Eleitoral (Campaign Fund) designed to finance the 2018 election campaign. Bolsonaro and his party friends are now being accused of receiving this money illegally. We are talking about the man whose campaign platform was a fight against corruption. Isn’t it ironic?
Another frequent sight and sound at this year’s carnival was of people speaking out their political fantasies on banners, a frequent one being, “PT has ruined my life.” It mocks a common phrase among Bolsonaro’s voters, who profited during the administration of President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (of the PT party), but often complain about him. Hatred of the PT and Lula, who left government due to corruption charges, was among Bolsonaro’s main issues during the election.
These behaviors, mixing partying with activist consciousness, showed that during this carnival, the simple act of going out for a bloco and putting forward who you want to be, became a political act. So the liberating joy experienced during Brazil’s biggest street celebration — one that helps define the nation in the eyes of the world, is observed in practically every city, and which becomes a major tourist business for many of them — came to be condemned by the the president’s fervent supporters. Like in a town named Jardim, in the southwestern Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where the city council declared that it was not going to support carnival — local governments usually sponsor street parties — and was, instead, investing money in ambulances. Which is a populist measure with notes of conservatism.
Salvador, the so-called “Black Rome,” where Bolsonaro most certainly did not win the vote, was one of the most magnificent centers of resistance. There, they had blocos like Respeita as Minas (“Respect the Sisters”), with three Black singers Larissa Luz, Luedji Luna and Xênia França, who did not perform traditional carnival songs, and instead brought a more militant tone to the party. In addition to these, two other figures of the brand new Bahian music stood out: the performance artist Majur and the rapper Hiran, both from LGBTQ+ movement and Black Afro-Brazilians who have broken stigmas when making appearances in several traditional shows.
During the trio performances, few artists were surprised to hear interval chants of, “Hey, Bolsonaro, go fuck yourself!” It was a choir also heard in other Brazilian capitals. The president seems not to taken well to this story, and on Tuesday (March 5th), the last day of the carnival, he posted on his official Twitter account (3.4 million followers), a video that showed a man wearing a black jockstrap with his finger in the anus, as another urinated on his head while dancing at what appears to be a bus stop. After that bizarre behavior, he asked: “What is a golden shower?” It looks like someone may need to talk to the Brazilian president about learning how to use social media.
The president’s Tweet was passed down by the international press, and the opposition in Brazil has vowed to sue Bolsonaro. Yet the truth is that it is totally embarrassing that people around the world are talking about how the President of Brazil posted a video of someone peeing on someone else. But Brazilians do love a good joke that’s also a political statement, on Wednesday, there was already blocos in Rio and attended by people wearing “Golden Shower” costumes. As the old saying goes, “The best of Brazil is the Brazilian.”
The message that came from the street during Carnaval is bigger than any attempt to backslide. That during those five days everyone will celebrate, manifest, have fun any which way they want. Now the challenge of Brazil is to continue to manifest the resistance to Bolsonaro’s social conservatism throughout the rest of the year.