Rio: “Pro-Death Tropa de Elite Disinforms, Dehumanizes”

Capt. Guimarães (l.) — a military torturer turned king of the
jogo do bicho — with Rio mayor Cesar “Chairman” “The Naked” Maia (second from left): Fat Tuesday and the Rede Globo meet the hog heaven of the hard men.

  • Crime and horror comics as a contributing factor in juvenile delinquency
  • Crime and horror comics and the well-adjusted and normally law abiding child
  • Crime and horror comics may appeal to and thus give support and sanction to already existing antisocial tendencies
  • Techniques of crime are taught by crime and horror comics
  • Criminal careers are glamorized in crime and horror comic books
    –Topics covered by the 1954 Kefauver Commission.

The reporter, as always, works hard to justify the killing. But this time the situation is so absurd — so very absurd — that not even the reactionary JG can conceal its embarrassment, which can be read between the lines. The images are brutal: a police helicopter pursues two young men, who have no chance of fighting back, running down the hillside trying to get away from a veritable air-borne firing squad.

Writing in Fazendo Media (Brazil), Marcello Salles suggests that the film Tropa de Elite is an “apology for crime” — that it celebrates criminal behavior on the part of police and causes young persons to emulate that behavior.

And indeed, you actually heard the state commandant of the Rio military police boasting, a while back, that after seeing the film, “kids playing cops and robbers no longer want to play the bandits; they want to play the role of BOPE.”

It is interesting to compare with

Col. Paul, head of the internal affairs division of the Rio state military police, suggests something like a local version of the Kefauver Commission of the 1950s — which examined the allegedly pernicious influence of horror comics on impressionable young minds.

Personally, I thought the Globollywood treatment given to what was an excellent script — a soundtrack custom-made to be cross-marketed with a first-person shooter game — was a major flaw of the production in the (Paraguayan) version we saw.

O comentário de João Martins na nota “Ainda a Tropa de Elite”, logo abaixo, jogou luz sobre a política de repressão contra os espaços populares. Vejam o que ele disse:

A comment from João Martins, titled “The Trooper Elite (Elite Squad) Again,” below, sheds light on the policy of repression in popular living spaces.

Marcelo, aqui no condomínio onde moro, crianças que antes brincavam de bola na quadra agora estão brincando de pelotão do Bope gritando aquelas palavras de ordem: “homem de preto, qual é sua missão? É entrar na favela e deixar corpo no chão”. Estou aguardando o momento em que aparecerão crinças brincando com um caveirinha e enterrando corpos de favelados em covas coletivas.

Marcelo, in the condominium where I live, kids who used to play ball out on the playground are now playing “BOPE,” and yelling those slogans: “Man in Black, what is your mission? I go into the shantytowns and leave corpses on the ground.” I am just waiting for the moment to arrive in which kids start playing with skulls and burying corpses of shantytown dwellers in mass graves.”

Tudo distribuido como brinquedos educativos, porque o povo “quer”, e não porque há uma indução semiótica sistemática, do senso comum, para reivindicar no Rio de Janeiro a guerra falsa contra as drogas feita pela DEA/CIA, e a extensão para cá do já desmoralizado PLANO COLÔMBIA com sua narco-parapolítica e narco-paramilitarismo genocida como plano de “segurança democrática”. Tudo isso está sendo feito para “libertar” os brasileiros que ainda vivem sob a ditadura: a versão local da globalização da guerra preventiva contra os “inimigos” da “democracia” tal qual é feito no Iraque e na Palestina. Tudo está enfiado num mesmo saco, e de um modo espetacular no fluxo alucinante das imagens que entorpecem o espectador desatento aos conteúdos de banalização do mau que são introduzidos na mente dos espectadores, desinformando e desumanizando sistematicamente.

All of it marketed as “educational toys,” because the people supposedly “want” it, and not because there is a systematic semiotic campaign to convince public opinion to support the phony “war on drugs” promoted by the DEA and CIA, and the extension of the discredited PLAN COLOMBIA, with its narco-parapolitics and genocidal narco-paramilitarism, which is marketed as a “democratic security.” All of this is supposedly being done to “liberate” Brazilians who “still live under a dictatorship: A local version of the preemptive war waged against “enemies” of “democracy” of the kind being waged in Iraq and Palestine. Everything gets lumped together in the same sack and presented in a spectacular manner as a delirious flow of images that intoxicate viewers who are not sufficiently attuned to the banalization of evil to which there minds are being subjected, systematically disinforming and dehumanizing them.”

Daí você explica a série de reportagens publicada pelo Globo sobre “os brasileiros que ainda vivem sob a ditadura”. Na lógica do jornalão, esses que ainda vivem na ditadura são os que vivem nos espaços populares. E por viverem sob esta condição devem ser “libertados”. Como? Pelas técnicas do Bope. É bom deixar claro que os jornalistas que fizeram a matéria estão de parabéns, como já escrevi aqui, por emplacar a série que, mal ou bem, deu outro tratamento para a questão da violência policial na cidade. Entretanto, não dá pra ser ingênuo de acreditar que o dono do jornal ficou bonzinho da noite para o dia. Não. É claro que ele tem seus interesses, e o comentário do João aí em cima enseja um bom exemplo.

That observations is exactly how you explain the series of reports O Globo published on “Brazilians who still live under the dictatorship.”

O Globo, in that series, actually seemed to have a hard time making its mind up whether it was describing “the dictatorship” — a material historical continuity linking the current scenario, with its death squads, to the militarization of policing under the 1964-1984 military regime — or “a [metaphorical or new, and analogous to the old one] dictatorship.”

The series was actually introduced originally as “The New Dictatorship.” Globo journalist Percival de Souza had already introduced the notion in his book Narcoditadura (“narcodictatorship”) in — what year was it? Brazilian book-selling e-commerce Web sites tend not to provide basic bibliographic information.

See also

I personally think the extent to which the current situation is literally continuous with the history military regime is seriously underreported:

According to the logic of the big metro daily, those who still live under the dictatorship are those who live in [off-the-grid] spaces. And for that reason they must be “liberated.” How? Using the techniques of BOPE. Journalists who reported these articles are to be congratulated, of course, as I have written here before, for a series that, for good or ill, provided a new angle on the issue of police violence in the city. But we must not be ingenuous enough to believe that the owner of that newspaper has become a nice guy overnight. No. He obviously has his own interests in the issue, and João’s commentary provides a good example of this.

Aproveitando o tema, quero dizer que hoje participei de um debate sobre o filme Tropa de Elite, promovido pelo Grupo Tortura Nunca Mais. Cecília Coimbra, atual presidente da entidade, disse o seguinte: “Não me interessa saber quais foram as intenções dos autores, e sim os efeitos que estão causando. E os efeitos, como as brincadeiras que as crianças estão fazendo de torturar os colegas e os aplausos de grande parcela da população, mostra que a maioria está apoiando a tortura e a execução sumária”.

Speaking of which, I wanted to mention that I took part in a debate today about the film Tropa de Elite, sponsored by the group [Torture Never Again]. Cecília Coimbra, president of the organization, said the following: “I do not care what the intentions of the authors were. What I care about are the effects they are creating. And those effects, such as children playing at torturing their playmates and the applause of a good portion of the population, shows that the population is supportive of torture and summary execution.”

Col. Paulo “The Trooper Elite Is an Antisocial Crime!”Paul actually trotted out some statistics that showed that a fairly substantial majority of the population do not support either of those things. The results cited were actually similar to the survey on “paramilitarism” and “parapolitics” published by Colombia’s Semana a while back, I thought.


Colombians surveyed say paramilitarism is: “justified in some cases”; “not sure”; “not justified”

Cecília também criticou muito o fato de o filme trabalhar para a naturalizar a existência de uma guerra no Rio de Janeiro. “Assim se justifica tudo”, afirmou a professora de psicologia da UFF, que também sublinhou que Tropa de Elite não é apenas reprodutor de uma realidade dada, mas é também um produtor de realidade. E, por fim, disse: “É um filme a favor da morte”. O Tortura Nunca Mais estuda entrar com representação no Ministério Público por considerar que Tropa de Elite faz apologia ao crime, à tortura e à execução sumária.

Cecília also criticized the fact that the film tends to naturalize the existence of war in Rio de Janeiro. “That is how it all gets justified,” said the UFF psych professor, who also argued that this film does merely represent a given reality, but is also a producer of reality. In conclusion, she said, “The film is pro-death.” Torture Never Again is considering filing a complaint with the public prosecutor, charging the film with apologizing for crime, torture, and summary execution.

I actually tend to disagree with that point of view, but again, the Globollywood veneer slathered over the script certainly leaves it open to the charge that it glorifies even as it moralizes. This is a familiar strategy. See also

You can show graphic scenes of hookers giving blow jobs in the public street during the family hour if your back narration clucks its tongue over how undesirable it all is.

Tive a sorte de retornar a Niterói ao lado da professora de história da UFF e nossa colunista Adriana Facina, ocasião em que pudemos desenvolver um pouco mais a discussão (o tempo de viagem do Rio a Niterói é de aproximadamente 40 minutos). Ela lembrou que, hoje, o sistema neoliberal precisa encontrar formas de lidar com uma parcela da população que não se enquadra mais no tradicional exército de reserva.

I was lucky enough to ride back to Niterói with the professor and our columnist Adriana Facina, during which we continued the discussion for the 40 minutes it takes to get from Rio to Niterói. She reminded me that today, the neoliberal system needs to discover new ways to deal with a part of the population that no longer fits the mold of its traditional army of reserves.

Estamos falando de uma população excedente, que precisa ser controlada de alguma forma. Assim, como essa classe dominante não consegue impor seus consensos de forma absoluta – pois sempre há linhas de fuga, mesmo frente à homogeneização da cultura e da mídia – ela lança mão de estratégias de terror, justamente contra a população que mais sofre os efeitos perversos do neoliberalismo (notadamente a negligência do Estado nas áreas de saúde e educação, entre outras, mas sobretudo os salários de fome).

We are talking about a surplus population that needs to be controlled in some way. Thus, because the dominant class cannot manage to impose its consensus in an absoluate way — there are always lines of escape, even given the homogenization of culture and the media — it starts using terror strategies against the very part of the population that suffers most from the perverse effects of neoliberalism (most notably State neglect of health and education, among others things, but above all starvation wages.)

Nesse sentido, o jurista argentino Raúl Zaffaroni afirma que esse sistema “vende a ilusão de que se obterá mais segurança urbana contra o delito comum sancionando leis que reprimam acima de qualquer medida os raros vulneráveis e marginalizados tomados individualmente e aumentando a arbitrariedade policial, legitimando direta ou indiretamente todo gênero de violência”.

In this sense, Argentine jurist Zaffaroni says that this system “sells the illusion that more urban security against common crime can be obtained by passing laws that repress vulnerable and marginalized individuals and increasing arbitrary policing, legitimizing, whether directly or indirectly, all types of violence.”

E o professor continua, num raciocínio que bate com aquilo que venho dizendo há muito tempo (que as corporações de mídia estimulam a violência): “Com isso, não apenas se magnifica a insegurança como também, ao proclamar a existência de uma pretensa impunidade ou leniência generalizada, lança-se uma metamensagem que incita publicamente os excluídos ao delito, assumindo o efeito de uma profecia auto-realizada; a mensagem, longe de ser indiferente à criminalidade comum, em tempos de desemprego, exclusão social e carência de projetos existenciais, passa a ter claros efeitos reprodutores”. O fotógrafo Oliviero Toscani diz a mesma coisa de modo mais simples: “A mídia estimula a delinqüência porque cria objetos de desejo e os divulga para todos, embora apenas uma pequena parte possa comprá-los”. Daí a se matar e morrer por um Nike – ou um Rolex.

And as the professor went on to say, in a line of reasoning that reinforces what I have been saying for a long time now — that media corporations stimulate violence — “With this, not only is the sense of security magnified, but also, proclaiming the existence of a supposedly generalized impunity or leniency, a meta-message is promoted that incites excluded persons to crime. It becomes something of a self-fulfilling prophecy: The message, far from being indifferent to common crime, during a time of unemployment, social exclusion and a lack of life projects, starts to have clear reproductive effects.” The photographer Oliviero Toscani says the same thing in a simpler way: “The media stimulates crime by creating objects of desire that it displays to everyone, even though only a very small portion of the population can afford to buy them.” Whence the phenomenon of killing and dying over a pair of Nikes — or a Rolex.

É disso que estamos falando. De um sistema extremamente perverso e muito bem articulado entre Estado neoliberal e corporações privadas (a mídia em primeiro lugar) a serviço da manutenção de uma ordem que violenta os trabalhadores em nome do luxo de uma meia dúzia.

That is what we are talking about. Of an extremely perverse system, articulated by the neoliberal State in collusion with private corporations (and the media above all) in order to maintain a socioeconomic order that violates the rights of workers in the name of a luxurious existence for a half dozen people.

PS: Chego, ligo a televisão no Jornal da Globo e vejo imagens estarrecedoras. A repórter, como sempre, se esforça para justificar a matança. Mas dessa vez a situação é tão absurda, mas tão absurda, quem nem o reacionaríssimo JG consegue esconder o constrangimento – fica latente nas entrelinhas. As imagens são brutais: um helicóptero da polícia persegue dois rapazes, sem qualquer chance de reação, que correm ladeira abaixo tentando se esquivar de um verdadeiro fuzilamento a céu aberto. Parece uma cena de guerra, com a diferença de que NÃO estamos em guerra. Além dos dois rapazes, outras dez pessoas foram assassinadas durante uma operação da CORE (O Bope da Polícia Civil) ontem na favela da Coréia, em Senador Camará, na Zona Oeste do Rio de Janeiro.

PS: I arrive home, turn on the TV to the Jornal do Globo, and see astonishing images. The reporter, as always, works hard to justify the killing. But this time the situation is so absurd — so very absurd — that not even the reactionary JG can conceal its embarrassment, which can be read between the lines. The images are brutal: a police helicopter pursues two young men, who have no chance of fighting back, running down the hillside trying to get away from a veritable air-borne firing squad. It looks like a scene from a war. But we are NOT fighting a war. Besides these two young men, another 10 people were murdered during an operation by CORE (the BOPE of the state judicial police) yesterday in Coréia in the Western Zone.

I think “murdered” is jumping to conclusions. But there is a legitimate question here: Will the police account properly for these shootings for a change? A policeman does have a legitimate right not to get his brains blown out. And the public has the right to a thorough accounting of every corpse said to have been produced by the exercise of this right.

Next, it it will be interesting to see if we can get ahold of the JG footage and see what this “embarrassment” might consist in.


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