Chavão opens big door

Image: Mariana Tassinari


The media increasingly standardizes tastes and consumption habits

The title of this article is a verse written by the genius composer Itamar Assumpção, and recorded on the disc Sampa Midnight – It Won't Stay Like This, from 1986. If it appeared in any pagode, or in a sertanejo hit, it would only be a shallow pun. But coming from an artist who always rejected the commonplace, looking for his own aesthetic and outside the rules of the market, he gains unsuspected depth.

You don't need to be a doctor in linguistics to see the literary and semiotic poverty of music made today “to be played on the radio”. It is not a Brazilian phenomenon, but a worldwide one, since the media increasingly standardize tastes and consumption habits. But in Brazil, indigence contrasts with the exuberance of the recent past: a few decades ago, song lyrics competed with the most refined poetry for the best translation of the feelings, attitudes, pains and joys of the Brazilian people. The giants who sowed modern MPB, added to the restless masters who, from north to south, from baião to milonga, from toada to samba de roda, surprised us with verbal finds, unusual images and rhymes that cut your hair and make your heart shiver, are increasingly removed from the general public, being worshiped in increasingly restricted niches.

Behind Itamar's verse is his own artistic trajectory. Composer outside the standards, "cursed", as they said at the time, did not fit. He made a song with an easy chorus, that everyone heard on the radio and sang, that was the request of the record companies. A samba, why not?, wasn't he black after all? The buzzword would certainly open big doors: radio and TV stations, auditorium shows, hit charts.

But Itamar Assumpção was of a different breed, and he resisted. Confusingly inspired, ironic and clever, the dough certainly won't eat the fine biscuit it made. But his accurate intuition ended up providing us with a perfect slogan for the times we live in, of complete dilution of aesthetics and experimentation.

Take political discourse, for example. There is no more perfect definition, in the elections we have just witnessed, than “chavão opens big door”. The creative discourse, the intelligent use of humor, the will to open new paths, the attack against deeply rooted values, were defeated. Where the left won was with experienced politicians, supported by a well-known speech [1]. It is not little, in the country of Bolsonarism with fascist overtones, but it shows how much still remains for a renewal to actually solidify in the political discourse.

In visual arts, architecture, cinema or music, Itamar Assumpção's axiom remains valid. The buzzword continues to open big doors, whether for record labels, publishers, broadcasters, multinational corporations or government palaces.

One of the great conflicts of the XNUMXst century is this confrontation between the invention and the reproduction of models. We don't know if our future will be designed by algorithms, based on statistics and invasion of privacy, or if it will still be subject to changes caused by the creative will of a few.

Meanwhile, let's fight so that the true innovators of speech can be heard by future generations. From Itamar Assumpção to Greta Thunberg, from Luiz Melodia to Guilherme Boulos, we have several examples that language does not walk apart from ideas, as the old Marx and Engels used to say. By the way, young revolutionaries, in their time.

* Daniel Brazil is a writer, author of the novel suit of kings (Penalux), screenwriter and TV director, music and literary critic.


[1] Obviously, the defeat did not occur only due to the degree of modernity of the discourse. Economic power, media manipulation and religiously based conservatism are still predominant factors in the Brazilian electoral scenario.


See this link for all articles