Thus said Bro Brown



Integrity and free, although a little haggard, he disagrees. It gives food for thought. He just needs to be heard too

The observation was made by filmmaker Roberto Gervitz. When the lights came on in the cinema room, after the screening of the documentary Game (directed by Cesar Charlone, Sebastian Bednarik e Joaquim Castro), at the 47th São Paulo International Film Festival, he declared, with his usual astuteness, that rapper Mano Brown's speech is the highlight of the film. We were on Rua Augusta, Saturday night, it was raining outside, during middle class leisure time and, well, you know how it is, Roberto Gervitz is right.

But what is it about, exactly? Let's explain. The documentary records the presidential campaign of Fernando Haddad (PT), in 2018. The work of the cameramen drives the narrative thread. The camera leaves the protocol and predictable public spaces to enter the politician's family sphere until it settles, comfortably, in the kitchen and dining room. The report captures, among other revealing episodes, the moment when the Haddads welcome linguist Noam Chomsky for lunch. At your leisure, Noam Chomsky makes considerations, in English, about the consumption of luxury goods.

It's interesting. Other passages, with also unexpected characters, denote signs of some intelligent life in the party bureaucracy. With ingredients like this, the course of images carries illustrated and, at times, erudite statements, but, in the end, the one who draws the most attention is the rap composer.

The Mano Brown scene is not unprecedented. He appears on the screen with the famous speech he made at a rally for the PT candidate in Rio de Janeiro, on the night of October 23, 2018. It was a nervous Tuesday. With harsh words, sharing the platform with Chico Buarque and Caetano Veloso, he attacked the failure of the campaign's communication and made a critical counterpoint, without any concession to the motivational techniques of marketing (to which so many artists bow, smiling).

That night, the singer's disconcerting phrases disturbed the audience, as the newspapers reported the following day. “I don’t like the party atmosphere,” he began. “The blindness that affects there, affects here too. This is dangerous. There’s no mood to celebrate.” At that point, everyone realized that a comeback was more than unlikely, but the rapper didn't just stop there. Instead of joining in with the group that blames the opponent, he stated that the side here also had responsibility: “If at any point communication failed here, they will pay the price. Communication is soul. If you can't speak the people's language, you will really lose. Speaking well about PT to PT fans is easy. There is a crowd that needs to be won over or we will fall over the cliff.”

Indeed, we fell off the cliff in 2018. But what about today? How are we in 2023? Did last year's elections bring us back from the brink?

In immediate terms, the answer is yes. If the electorate prevented the former president's re-election, we owe it to the fact that the 2022 campaign was more efficient than the previous one. The obvious, nothing more than the obvious. However, this change occurred at the level of the situation, that is, it only revamped the surface of events. Beneath appearances, the cliff remains where it was before. The nation remains divided, split, separated into two halves that do not recognize each other as legitimate. If we take seriously the warning from the uncomfortable speech five years ago, we will see that the misery of communication in the so-called “democratic field” has not been resolved.

Communicating is not about convincing the other side of the stoned convictions of the here side, it is not a magic trick to convert those who are against us into our followers. The verb “communicate” has a prerequisite, and that prerequisite is another verb, the verb “listen”. Fernando Haddad's communication in 2018 and, to a good (or bad) extent, Lula's in 2022 failed. The two failed not because they did not publicize their causes, but because they did not know how to listen. They repeated their somewhat worn-out rhetorical formulas and, other than that, they did not listen to what was new.

To begin with, they didn't listen to the impoverished peripheries who were concerned (and still are concerned) with public security. They snubbed the cries of these humble people, as if not accepting rampant crime was the same thing as not accepting human rights. The two campaigns also turned a blind eye to people who cultivate conventional customs, as if it were a sin to like conservative families. Another deadly mistake.

Immediately, the preaching of the anti-democratic far right flourished. The hysteria of reactionary moralism invaded the agenda, with its disinformative messages, such as the “bottle of…” (you know). In fact, the documentary shows in detail the apotheosis of the so-called “bottle”. The memory shocks us, even today, but it shocks us less because it was a gross fraud, and more because it was credible, candidly credible, to the crowds hostile to the arrogant communication that Mano Brown spoke about. Integrity and free, although a little haggard, he disagrees. It gives food for thought. He, too, just needs to be heard.

* Eugene Bucci He is a professor at the School of Communications and Arts at USP. Author, among other books, of Uncertainty, an essay: how we think about the idea that disorients us (and orients the digital world) (authentic).

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