At Big Brother Brazil

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Suicidal behavior and the fate of ethical-political suffering

The current season of Big Brother Brasil is the one that most capillarized, among the general population, the controversies and controversies that usually characterize the program, even coming to the attention of people who know little about its existence. Unfortunately, the spectacularization of violence and torture promoted by this reality show is nothing new. However, for the first time a participant (Lucas), after suffering recurrent forms of humiliation, decided to leave the program.

Lucas, a young black man, poor and bisexual, tragically is part of the segments that suffer the most violence and also kill themselves the most in Brazil, namely: the poor, non-white and LGBTQIA+ population. These segments, structurally spoiled, reveal the evident correlation between violence (physical or symbolic) and suicidal behavior.

Despite Big Brother being one of the many programs constituted through the planned and managed lie of the cultural industry, it is undeniable that it reproduces (in parts) the social dynamics. An environment composed of a group of individuals in isolation, in direct competition, constantly watched, stripped of spontaneity and forced to extreme individualism in order to survive in competition, resembles (and a lot!) the current stage of pandemic surveillance capitalism, whose essential base is made up of precarious application workers.

In this sense, the program also inevitably reproduces the social violence of racism, homotransphobia and aporophobia, which permeates everyone's subjective formation to a greater or lesser extent. Lucas, who was fragile from the beginning, became the target of the hierarchy that formed there, suffering intense persecution and televised humiliation. The apex of this irrational violence, which culminated in his withdrawal, occurred shortly after expressing the spontaneity of his desire, in which he starred, along with Gilberto, in the first kiss between men in the history of the program. This rare free expression of desire was immediately punished, invalidated, silenced.

Indeed, in a television program, which is artificial at its base, there is still the option of resigning. And in concrete reality? Lucas, in his withdrawal, spectacularly staged “the way out” found by the non-white, poor, peripheral, LGBTQIA+ population violated within a heterocisnormative white bourgeois society: suicide.

His suffering is the result of power relations, therefore, it is an essentially political suffering. Despite expressing itself in the individual, it is a suffering that is particular and, at the same time, universal. It reveals the psychic suffering of the individual, his peers and all the generations that preceded him, oppressed because of race, class and sexual orientation for centuries. At the same time that this ethical-political suffering is present, it expresses a long history of violence and domination, which makes the suicide of that population somewhat ambiguous, as it is much closer to homicide. In this sense, the program repeats social reality: it prevents Lucas from being and existing as he wants to be and exist.

May his unexpected departure, after successive episodes of torture spectacularly explored by the reality show, reveal how much mental suffering cannot be reduced to a mere individual phenomenon, that is, it is not a mere expression of the individual's internal inability to adapt to relationships with each other and with the world; much less the result of a “lack of resilience”, a very fashionable word in the current pandemic stage of capitalism.

On the contrary, this suffering is not the result of a lack of adaptation, but of an excess of adaptation of the individual to power relations, materially and historically constituted, which cross him from birth and which mutilate him in his figures of freedom, in your spontaneity, in your desire. Denial of subjectivity and giving up on life, violence and suicide are inseparable phenomena in Brazilian reality. This is one of the destinations of ethical-political suffering.

Finally, to those who tooth and nail defend the power of overcoming the individual, I ask: after all the torture broadcast live, would you dare to say that Lucas left Big Brother Brasil due to his lack of resilience?

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



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