Two minutes of white hate

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The current Big Brother of Rede Globo not only resembles that of George Orwell by name, but also by operating the same mechanism of manipulation

If there is one feat of the Big Brother Brasil program, it is certainly that of having united the progressive and collective discourse of militancy with the conservative and individualist discourse of liberalism. The result of this false synthesis was the then “self-entrepreneur neoliberal militant”, who uses emancipatory discourses for personal, competitive purposes.

Faced with the daily absurd news that characterizes Brazilian politics under Bolsonarism, this strange form of the “militant entrepreneur of the self” forged by the cultural industry would be despicable if its main representatives were not part of the most socially deprived segments: black people and LGBTQIA+.

Not without reason, the public rejects the biased use of militant critical discourse that seeks to justify the violence and humiliation that are natural there. However, this rejection of the moral posture of the participants turned into managed hatred, whose targets are precisely black men and women.

In the famous dystopian novel1984, George Orwell describes a curious practice carried out by the totalitarian State of Oceania on its inhabitants, whose name was very suggestive: “Two Minutes of Hate”. Every day the image of Emmanuel Goldstein, who was an enemy of the State, defender of the liberation of the people and the overthrow of that totalitarian regime organized by the Big Brother (Big Brother). The reaction was immediate: the population directed all the hatred arising from their discomfort towards the figure of the revolutionary on the screen, making faces, disapproving gestures and intimidating sounds.

It was a false catharsis administered daily, whose objective was to keep them even more linked to social reproduction. Nothing too far from what Theodor Adorno pointed out as the logic of Nazi propaganda: performing a reverse psychoanalysis, that is, preventing the irrational contents of the unconscious from becoming conscious, rationalizable, which created subjective conditions conducive to the action of the mass ideology.

Well then, Rede Globo's current Big Brother not only resembles that of Orwell by name, but also by operating the same mechanism of manipulation. While managing the show's hand-picked characters, it also forges its viewers. The hatred of black participants – most of whom are defenders of an anti-racist and anti-sexist society – fulfills a specific political function: it contributes to the formation of a public opinion even more averse to militant and engaged discourse, despite the explicit compassion for participant Lucas, the which was the victim of racist violence spectacularized by the production of the reality show.

Added to this is another issue that is relentlessly explored: that black people also reproduce racism. Apparently, the BBB hearing only discovered in 2021 that the oppressed segments also reproduce the values ​​and behaviors of their oppressors. In Lacanian language, it seems that only now have they realized that blacks are also missing subjects, like any other subject divided from capitalist society.

In the last country in the West to leave slavery, whose patriarchal, slave-owning and colonial structures have changed little since 1888, it is a social phenomenon unfortunately expected that the conscience of any citizen is formed according to the premises of machismo and racism. This, incidentally, is the essence of symbolic violence. However, the fact that blacks reproduce racist behavior and women reproduce sexist behavior does not change the structure of racism and patriarchy polished by white men.

This point is fundamental, because what happens in Big Brother has spread socially, manifesting itself even in institutional politics. Among these somewhat bizarre manifestations is the presentation of crime news at Decradi (Delegation for Combating Racial Crimes and Intolerance Crimes), as well as a letter to the Public Ministry, against one of the black participants of the reality (Lumena) for “ reverse racism”. “Lumena”, by the way, has become the new meaning to name those considered “boring militants” on the internet.

Equally bizarre were the comparisons made by the audience on social media. Negro Di was “eliminated” with the second highest level of rejection in the history of the program (98,76%), precisely on the same day as the arrest of Bolsonarist deputy Daniel Silveira, who became famous for breaking a plaque with the name of Marielle Franco. Result: many compared the black participant with the racist white congressman. Both were “cancelled” on the same day.

As violent as was the comparison between Karol Conká, the “eliminated” participant with the biggest rejection in the history of the program (99,17%) with Jair Bolsonaro, due to his authoritarian behavior in the competition. His departure from reality generated a mobilization of viewers, who celebrated with fireworks, cursing on balconies and gatherings in public places.

Not by chance, these two minutes of hate administered daily towards black figures occurred in the week in which Bolsonaro signed four decrees that make the use and purchase of firearms more flexible. It is known, based on concrete data, that such flexibility will imply an increase in homicides and suicides, whose main victims are, precisely, the black and peripheral populations. This population will also be the most impacted with the approval of the Proposed Amendment to the Constitution (PEC) presented by the president last week, which provides for the end of mandatory spending in essential areas such as public health and education.

It is for these and other reasons that it is not futile to reflect on the discourse produced and the affections mobilized by Big Brother Brasil, above all, because it is the season with the highest audience in the last eight years and because its collective hate figures are, in mostly black.

Despite the moral behavior of some of them – who were effectively violent in this competitive reality show that always explored the violence of others – it is worth questioning where this affection mobilized on a daily basis towards selected black figures comes from. What is this hate? What function does the satisfaction arising from this hatred directed at Karol Conká, Negro Di, Lumena and Projota fulfill?

These four participants make up what the public called the “hate cabinet” of the BBB21, whose leader was Karol Conká. Indeed, some sectors, naively, insinuated that the massively organized hatred of the singer could be channeled to the 2022 elections, aimed at overthrowing authoritarianism in Brazil. Others understood the “catharsis” directed at the participant as healthy, that is, a collective process of “purification of the soul” such as occurred in Ancient Greek theaters.

However, these sectors forgot one detail: unlike the political spontaneity of the masses or catharsis over a dramatic work of art, all the affection at play in this case was mobilized by a program of the cultural industry, whose ultimate goal, profit, in no moment is hidden by its producers. There is even a risk that the effect of this false catharsis will be exactly the opposite of what is desired, precisely because it was a typical expression of the paranoid projection carried out by the program. What was made explicit with the “elimination” of those two black figures from the competition was not a reflection on authoritarianism, but how we direct our hatred towards figures we identify with. The audience celebrated the end of Karol Conká's authoritarianism by being just as authoritarian. In fact, the singer's 15-year-old son received death threats. This is the cattle effect.

Finally, the “two minutes of hatred for black people” administered daily by Big Brother Brasil – whose satisfaction is shared even by progressive groups – pushes us towards a kind of algorithmic behavior, which in an alienated and compulsive way associates the black image with “dislike” ”, to “cancellation”. If there is any kind of affection associated with the social media algorithm, which conditions what we see and what we fail to see, it is certainly white hatred. In this sense, perhaps the tricky question posed by the BBB21 to its audience is: what kind of solidarity should I have with the anti-racist agenda – and with the population that is the victim of structural racism – if black people themselves are racist and authoritarian? Perhaps these are some of the affections managed in the dangerous discourse of whiteness inculcated by the reality show.

* Thiago Bloss de Araújo Master in Social Psychology from the University of São Paulo (USP).

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