Two ideas from TED São Paulo

I was watching some video presentations captured at TEDx São Paulo from late last year and in the same way that TED Talks in California isn’t always a riveting show, the Brazilian version has its pluses and minuses. Two of the pluses were talks given by journalist Denis Russo Bergierman (video below) and by actress & comedian Regina Casé (found here w/o subtitles).

As far as Bergierman’s video, due to the fact that it comes subtitled and since it is fairly well-explained, there’s not much to say about it, aside from saying he has a good point. While Brazil does have a lot of problems, they also have a large pool of talented people that can help to solve such problems.

In terms of Casé’s video, she talks about how the term “popular culture” actually excludes popular cultural movements created by marginalized communities. I fully agree with her and will side with the philosopher Socrates in saying the idea of the ‘majority’ knowing what is best for entire population is nothing but a fallacy. The problem I have with Casé though, is that she uses baile funk of Rio and tecnobrega of Pará as prime examples. Having lived both to a certain extent, I would personally not choose to cite those as unjustly under-valued popular movements. Baile funk for one, promotes hypersexuality and violence while tecnobrega must have been created by a pre-teenage girl skilled in the use of a voice synthesizer who steals her lyrics from the likes of the Backstreet Boys.

Give me baile funk without the dirtiness or tecnobrega with meaningful lyrics (and a human voice) and I would actually support Regina Casé’s examples as undeservingly under-valued.


4 thoughts on “Two ideas from TED São Paulo

  1. Oi Adam,

    I’m not sure, and please correct me if I am wrong, but it seems that you actually didn’t fully live the funk culture, getting to know producers, DJs, going to the parties in the favelas, and talking to people in the community about it.

    Funk is black music, it’s music from the poor by the poor, from the favelas. It’s obviously misunderstood by the middle class, and its last preoccupation is with a certain “good taste” that would please this middle class. Samba was also heavily persecuted (like funk is today) by the ‘taste police’ –and by the police itself. It’s a class thing. Bossa Nova sanitized samba, made it white and acceptable, and something, some genre of music yet to be invented, will do the same for funk. Aesthetically, funk is rich, vast and evolving rapidly. But if you’re interested in the origins of funk at all, I recommend Hermano Vianna’s thesis (since the book is out of print).

    Hermano puts links to some of his writing in the Overmundo website. He’s awesome. His book O Mistério do Samba is also fundamental.

    Hermano was also the first to talk in about tecnobrega and its paradigm shift in terms of music marketing. I find those things fascinating, and for me they go way beyond music appreciation. He thinks culture. He thinks people.

    Peace, e

    • Hi Eloisa,

      Thanks for the comment. You are correct to say that I didn’t live the funk culture but I meant to say I was around it and heard it everyday. I’m by no means a funkeiro.

      As for the rest of your comment, I totally agree and that is why my remarks against funk (and tecnobrega) had to do specifically with certain aspects of the music itself and not the culture surrounding it nor the origins of it. I understand that violence exists in the music because it exists in their daily lives (but it is also a have-to-have thing so people can seem “hard” (ie the real deal, thugs) just as what happens in hip-hop. The artists have to have the image that they are truly living the culture they sing about (although it is a lot easier for an artist from the US to financially escape the slums from which they come than for a funk artist to do the same).

      As for the hypersexuality, I strongly disagree with that and it is a point you did not mention in your comment. Funk of the early 90’s and perhaps before wasn’t so crude in my experience, but these days its all about having sex and “giving it” to the women, having them “take it” every which way. Then there’s the baile funks such as the ones promoted by Furacão 2000, where everyone, if not for their clothing, would be having sex with each other on the dancefloor. There’s no denying the completely over-sexualized nature of it all. It’s disgusting and it has nothing to do with where I’m from, in my opinion. If I was from the slums, I would think it was normal, but thinking it is normal doesn’t make it right or descent.

  2. “I would think it was normal, but thinking it is normal doesn’t make it right or descent.” You made your point! But we happen to disagree – which is OK.

    I don’t equal hypersexualized with immoral or indecent. In fact, I only use the words ‘obscene’ or ‘indecent’ to things not related to sex at all!!! And the word “normal” is so heavy for me that I try not to use it at all :) Too many people using ‘abnormal’ to qualify me, y’know.

    But I see where you’re coming from. Thing is, funk doesn’t need us and our moral approval. Which is also a good thing.


    ps-you’ve been posting a lot! kudos! the blog looks nice :)

    • However over-sexualization is belittled, I do believe it needs to be extinguished completely because it isn’t just a part of funk music but of most modern popular music these days. There is so much more to life than being brainwashed by the culture creators and in the case of the favela, the culture creators are the traffickers and the funk artists. The type of brainwash that followers receive tells them that women are sexual objects and nothing more and the “it would be funny if it wasn’t sad” part is that women believe they are empowered by and powerful for doing the very thing the brainwashing tells them to do, even if they are unconscious of it because they are part of the culture. If that is a good thing then I must have been born in the wrong century, lol.

      Thank you for getting back to me on your initial comment and for the compliment on the site.

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