Big Brother Brazil

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By DENNIS DE OLIVEIRA*

Neoliberalism and the scenario of the destruction of the political sphere

Despite Brazil experiencing one of the biggest social crises in its history, with tragic episodes such as the lack of oxygen for people with Covid-19 in the Amazon, growing unemployment and poverty, more than a thousand deaths per day from the coronavirus and a government that is more concerned with releasing weapons, meeting the demands of the speculative market rather than facing the pandemic – which, contrary to what many claim, does not affect everyone equally, blacks and the poor are the most victimized – the racial debate imposed by the current edition of the program global Big Brother Brazil 21 gained repercussions.

I commented on my social network that if there is a positive aspect in this episode, it is the fact that it unmasks once and for all the idea that media visibility is representativeness and “empowerment” (a concept that gained strength with its appropriation by strategists of the current called “neoliberalism”). progressive” in the late 1980s) individual are the ways to face the dynamics of oppression and exploitation (of race, class, gender).

I am not going to repeat the good arguments of my colleague Rosane Borges that the media space is not the right place to think about representation (see here). But here I want to propose a reflection on how this phenomenon – which tends to be repeated at other times – is the product of the appropriation of certain strains of post-structuralism in the 1960s (which played a particularly important role in the countercultural movements of that period) by the flexible accumulation capitalism generating what some authors call “post-modernity”.

It is a fact that when talking about “cancel culture”, it is not a phenomenon that has just emerged. In the constitution of the Brazilian State, blacks, poor, women, indigenous people have always been “cancelled”, their voices disregarded in the public debate either through structural racism and sexism, or through partial democracy, in which the idea of ​​universal citizenship has always been a fiction . It is enough to see that a country with more than half of black people and more than half of women, had only one woman in the Presidency of the Republic, black and female participation in spaces of power is negligible and only recently has it adopted affirmative actions for black men and women in universities .

This historically silent voice has found a possibility to express itself through a society mediated by information and communication technologies. Capitalism, in its form of flexible accumulation, which establishes control over distributive and technological processes, plays in the field of competitiveness the possibilities that those excluded from this power may have an open window for visibility – provided, of course, that they do not oppose the system.

Thus, alongside these possibilities for the expression of historically silent voices, there is a logic of extreme competitiveness and it is precisely there that the idea of ​​individual empowerment fulfills the ideological role of interdicting the discussion of confronting oppression through collective actions and also of building a critical view of what these managing structures of this space are. It is not a matter of standing beside Karol Conká or Lucas, but of having a posture of what Globo – the broadcaster that has its journalism department headed by a person who has written a book we are not racist, whose reality show in which this controversy took place is mediated by one of its most depoliticized professionals and which expresses this profile of a petty bourgeoisie alien to everything around it (“the people of the Dinner Room” as the lyrics of the song say Panis et Circenses, dos Mutantes) whose logic is not to define who will win, but who will be “excluded”.

Paul Valéry he speaks of the so-called “delusional professions”, those activities that depend on the opinion of others. Delusional because the exercise of this activity is directly linked to the ability to build characters that comfort the psychological suffering of social groups subjected to a society of insecurity. The problem is that the capitalism of flexible accumulation imposes a total deregulation of the processes of socialization of work and, by extension, of life itself. As a result, these psychic sufferings are fluctuating, constantly moving like stray animals.

This is what Lacan is talking about when he defines psychic suffering not as the absence of an object of desire, but the lack of a structure that constitutes this Other – in other words, desire cannot even be named. The delusional then act in flash-behaviors, of generating impact, the so-called “sealing” that replaces something desired but distant (or what we can call utopia).

From all this, the political-economic power structure comes out intact. The controversy is between defenders of Karol Conká, Nego Di or Lucas. A Globo gets away with it and even has room to take the demagogic attitude of proposing a “help” to Lucas. In the same way as the Globe harshly criticizes the figure of Jair Bolsonaro, but defends the autonomy of the Central Bank and the fiscal adjustment policy that is mainly responsible for the absence of effective public policies to face the pandemic and the social crisis.

This is not a mere discursive strategy to hide the essence, but the result of what Zygmunt Bauman calls the divorce between power and politics. Power lies in the invisible, distant territories of the management centers of transnational corporations that can, at the push of a button, withdraw millionaire resources from one country and send them to another. It is this power that is being preserved with the “autonomy” of the Central Bank. Politics, or what remains of it, is restricted to the performative disputes of characters (some hamsters) constructed from media reference standards – such as the “lives” of the President of the Republic riding a jet sky or the controversies of the BBB-21. This is the result of the full mediatization of society.

*Dennis De Oliveira He is a professor at the Department of Journalism and Publishing at the School of Communications and Arts at USP and a researcher at the Institute of Advanced Studies (IEA) at USP.

 

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