The Fairy and the Myth

Juan Gris (1887–1927), Playing card violin on table, 1913.
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By THIAGO BLOSS DE ARAÚJO*

The collective identification with the victory of the cult Rayssa does not point to hope, but to the resignation of a population that has become accustomed to the immediacy of the death of thousands, hunger and social authoritarianism.

“Thank you for rekindling our hope in a better Brazil”. This was a sentence, among many similar ones, written by an Internet user after young skater Rayssa Leal (the so-called “fairy”) won a silver medal at the Olympics in Japan. Her victory, in addition to being the result of an individual redemption, became a kind of collective redemption (of another nature) for the viewers.

There is no doubt about the importance of such an achievement, especially as it is the result of the effort of a young black, poor and peripheral Brazilian woman who certainly faced many more obstacles than the other athletes representing the countries of the center of capitalism.

On the other hand, the idolatrous commotion for his victory, driven by the mass communication vehicles, carries much more potential for resignation than criticism. Already in the middle of the last century, Adorno and Horkheimer signaled how sport, when associated with the cultural industry, became pure ideology when used as an instrument of identification of the masses with the socially given, with the administered reality as it is presented before them. our eyes. The function of ideology would no longer be simply the concealment of the truth, which would result in false consciousness. On the contrary, today the cultural industry makes its lie explicit, not hiding anything from the consumer, except the fact that he lives in an immutable and always the same world. Therefore, in a very precise way, the Frankfurtians synthesized this new facet of ideology in one phrase: “become what you are”.

Indeed, the spectacle surrounding the fairy's victory at the Olympics, while projecting onto her figure the imaginary of the "myth" responsible for reconciling the contradictions that operate in Brazilian society, also reinforces the cynicism that there is nothing to be changed, that “things are what they are” and that everything depends on individual effort. It is enough to reflect that this tough medal is won in the context of a country whose government, the so-called “myth”, was directly responsible for the deaths of more than half a million people and which, through no fault of their own, extinguished the Ministry of Sport.

In such a situation, Rayssa was “lucky” to have a video of her go viral on the internet, which offered her opportunities to overcome some of the structural disadvantages she would face until she won the medal. The same happened with surfer Ítalo Ferreira, gold medalist, who learned to surf on a Styrofoam lid early in his career. It is evident that such disadvantages could have been avoided (or minimized) in a fairer and less authoritarian country. That is why his victories, despite being deserved, appear to viewers as a manifest lie.

In this sense, the collective identification with the victory of the revered Rayssa does not point to hope, but to the resignation of a population that has become accustomed to the immediacy of the death of thousands, hunger and social authoritarianism. Resilience, in this context, is just an expression of mutilation and not of redemption or individual overcoming. If there's something to be opened wide in the skater's conquest, it's not hope, but despair. After all, the fairy's spectacular victory unfortunately takes place under the real misfortune of the myth.

* Thiago Bloss de Araújo is a doctoral student at the School of Philosophy, Letters and Human Sciences at UNIFESP.

 

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