Just a Jumble

Posted by: | March 17, 2009 | Comments Off on Just a Jumble

  • Popular Culture Transformations
    Nowhere else is the matrix of popular culture, its transformations, and all of its offspring – even challenging the number offspring produced by Garrincha – more apparent than in Alex Bellos’ “Futebol”. Bellos has the Midas touch in the blending of the divisions between specific forms of popular culture through the topic of futebol. Instead of pretentiously plucking the targets of his desires, he extends his reach beyond its capacity with a greedy (and indulgent) finesse. Futebol becomes the muse for Art Literature both in the form of the Maracanã match (where the “radio commentary was republished” (44) leading to the production of several books), in the styles of Garrincha who aroused even the imagination of poets such as Paulo Mendes (102) and Vinicius de Moares (110) and in the style of Zizinho who attained a comparison to an artist, “Zizinho as Leonardo da Vinci ‘ creating works of art with his feet on the immense canvas of the Maracanã pitch” (48) . Futebol becomes the central station of nations and their respective popular cultures, where in some cases such as Argentina and Brasil, their distinct features collide. In Brasil the Fateful Final is a resonating tragedy, whereas in Argentina it is a source of joy, earning the nickname of “maracanazo” and causing argentinos to “[rub] their hands in glee” (44). Bellos makes a point of incorporating iconic events that are relics of popular culture in other countries to compare and develop the monumental impact of the Uruguay vs. Brasil match of 1950 in the popular culture of Brasil, as well as entrenching the parallels found between nations. The United States is widely used for his comparisons: the final Uruguay goal is allied with JFK where “the goal and the gunshot that killed Kennedy both have ‘the same drama… the same movement, rhythm…the same precision of an inexorable trajectory” (54); Elza Soares the legendary samba singer is mentioned among the likes of Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday, and her songs seen as “torch songs” (116) a genre that is heavily centered around Billie Holiday and her contemporaries. Futebol becomes a Myth/Legend in order to satisfy Nation Building which also has its grubby fingers in the sugary-sweet honey jar of Politics: the Maracanã tragedy serves as a national myth creating a “united vision” (45) even noted as having a place among “things that build nations, a people drenched in their own pain” (54), where “the defeat transformed a normal fact into an exceptional narrative: it is a fabulous myth that has been preserved and even grown in the public imagination” (57). Besides being a narrative, the “Maracanã [also] fostered a football-inspired patriotism” (46); futebol once again contributing to the Nation. Futebol in/with/and Music is mentioned several times by Bellos who masterfully stitches (yet again) two forms of popular culture specifically Chico Buarque (52), (97), (116), Carmen Miranda (99), Caetano Veloso (128), Elza Soares (see: garrincha). Garrincha in turn is employed by Bellos to introduce Futbeol with the Indigenous (another apparition of popular culture!): where zicunati(78) is compared with futebol, where ” ‘play[ing] like an Indian'” is a manner of playing synonymous with “constantly attack[ing] and never defend[ing]” (87), and finally where the indigenous rituals gain rituals from football warm-ups in classic case of transculturation (88). The overriding popular culture transformation is the sheer commercialism of Futebol; Bellos illustrates this efficiently with his comparison of Pele and Garrincha (112-115), the hijacking and subsequent owning of the football strip by Nike, and the questioning of fanatical authenticity where money and logos are involved (*Cotton Bud*), every mode of Popular Culture into which he integrates Futebol is also another opportunity for capitalist expansion, where Art, Music, Literature, Politics, Nationality, Myths and Legends, the Indigenous and Folk all are subject to the same game of Profiteering.

    The Brazilian Image

  • Grandeur (as a pretext)
    – “blow their own trumpets they have a tendency to use global superlatives” (45)
    – ” size of country mirroring language and ufanismo “excessive arrogance based on the potential of Brazil’s vast resources” (45)
  • Maracanã (largest stadium in the world)
    – “our prestige and sporting greatness” (46)
    – symbol of Brasil’s placement “in the modern world” (46)
  • Jersey
    – “yellow is such a strong primary colour that it perfectly synthesised with the flamboyant, flash Brazilian style” (67)
    – “golden yellow adds a warmth and luxuriousness that complements prodigal Brazilian skills”
    – “evocative, visually unmistakable and iconic”
    – “personifications of golden statuettes”
    – “a touch of the exotic, like something you would expect from Africa”
    – “national identity – citixenship” (68)
    – “since football is the strongest symbol of national identity wearing a football strip asserts a utopian Brazilianness” (127)
    – Exaggeration of themselves as luckless… another form of grandeur (extremities)
  • “Stray Dog Complex” (55)
    – “the inferiority with which the Brazilian positions himself, voluntarily, in front of the rest of the
    – “lack of moral fibre” (55)- “Brazil is not a country of winners. It is a country of a people who like to have fun” (115) –> national motto(?)
    – “Brazilians, the cliché dictates, have taken carnival to the football terraces” (123)

Carnival with a Twist

  • merging of 2 culturally defining aspects of Brasil established on consumerism basis
  • “carnival competitive” “football matches carnivalesque” (124)
  • “motivations were no especiallly philanthropic – he did so because it increased general interest in football, generated more copy and sold more papers.” (124)
  • “business mind and a literary bent to the sports pages” –> corrupting?
  • Torcedores
  • Cotton Bud
    “Professional Fan” (129)
    “Companies know that I will be on the television a lot and in newspapers, so they give me clothes and plane tickets in exchange for a logo on my Brazil shirt” (129)
    –>cheapans authenticity… parallels with Pelé

The Case of Venezuelan Telenovelas

  • “is the continuation of a family: to fall in love, to marry, to have children” (65) and “contrasts rich and poor, good and evil” etc.
  • Golden rule: “man and woman fall madly in love, but before they can live happily ever after, they have to overcome a series of obstacles” (69) … “finally, either two men fight for the love of a woman, or two women fight for the love of a man”
  • Differentiation from American soap operas… history: U.S. Soap operas –>;Cuba —>; telenovelas –> rest of latinoamerica
  • Cuba: “theme of children born out of wedlock” (68) “exercise of suspense…use of music, and in the characters’ histrionic tone”
  • Mexico y Venezuela: “schematic..conflicts develop around familly relationships…manichean” , “linear…tend to focus on the male and female protagonists”
  • Brasil, Colombia: “class and territory, sex and procreation…advertising, and music videos”
  • Brasil: “complex series of plots and subplots”


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