NMM(-TV)SNB(B)CNN(P)BS: TV Globo on Punks and Skinheads

It was the next day, brothers, and I had truly done my best, morning and afternoon, to play it their way and sit like a horrorshow co-operative malchick in the chair of torture, while they flashed nasty bits of ultra-violence on the screen.; though not on the soundtrack, my brothers. The only sound being music.

Six private media corporations hold the Brazilian TV market, a market that negotiates more than USD 3 billion in publicity. Globo Network holds approximately half of this market, a total of USD 1.590 billion. These six private TV Networks hold, in conjunction with their 138 affiliated groups, a total of 668 media outlets (TVs, radios and newspapers) and 92% of the TV audience; Globo alone holds 54% of the TV audience (in a country where 81% of the population watch TV every
day, for an average of 3.5 hours per day. The Inter-American Court on Human Rights has recognised that freedom of expression requires the existence of a free and pluralistic media also within the private broadcasting system: “It is the mass media that make the exercise of freedom of expression a reality. This means that the conditions of its use must conform to the requirements of this freedom, with the result that there must be, inter alia, a plurality of means of communication, the barring of all
monopolies thereof, in whatever form, and guarantees for the protection of the freedom and independence of journalists.”–
Article 19, “Brazil Mission Statement on the State of Freedom of Expression,” August 2007

Punks lutam contra estigma de violentos (G1/Globo): “Punks fight stigma of violence.”

Being educated about Brazilian popular culture by TV Globo is like getting practical sex tips from a septagenarian lifelong eunuch.

We actually have a good friend who is something of a doyenne of the local “punk” scene, having fronted “Brazil’s first all-grrrl punk band” in the 1980s — while holding down a day job as a bank manager — during which time she produced a son (“DJ Tiago”) who is these days heavy into the hip-hop and trip-hop and whatever those cutting-edge music and night-life scenes are now.

She was utterly floored by the brutal stupidity and vicious slant of this segment, titled simply “Punks,” which implies an equivalence between the so-called “punk rock movement” and racist skinheads.

Not to mention a (phony) equivalence between common street crime and ideologically-inspired ultraviolence against — as the Lusophone Wikipedian puts it:

homosexuals, leftists, different urban tribes (especially those espousing leftist thought), drug users … and in some cases, Jews, prostitutes and other minorities.

And homeless street kids. Incidents of barbecuing alive the Bolivians who sleep under bridges. You can confirm the rough accuracy of that list by actually reading the contents of some of the Web sites flashed on the screen for a couple of seconds by Globo.

Not to mention the sense of proportion. The segment cites 6 fatal victims of violent clashes between the groups this year — then proceeds to focus most of its attention on two cases which, as it tells us, are putatively not examples of violent clashes between the rival groups.

By the end of February, São Paulo had already registered 13 incidents of death-squad chacinas in São Paulo, with 27 dead: Disciplined drive-up mow-downs of young men on the street, using sophisticated weapons. Ski-masks worn. Young men guilty of existing while black. “Monkeys go home.”

Weapons of the kind reserved for police and military use. Diligent police investigations invariably ending up in an elaborate shrug of the shoulders.

The segment reminds me strongly of a segment CNN’s Wolf Blitzer aired recently on “neonazi punks in Israel.” Like this segment, the CNN segment featured a constant pounding soundtrack of racist headbanger music. What little footage they had of the incident looped over and over and over.

Heavy on emotionalism, sensationalism and infotainment elements. Light on hard facts.

Unlike this segment, however, at least CNN chose authentic examples of the music that these groups chose to represent their motivations for the soundtrack. The Clash and the Ramones are not racist skinhead music. Just ask a racist skinhead. They hate that shit with a passion.
It also reminds me quite a bit of reporting on the labor conflict in Oaxaca, where the myth was constantly promoting that there was equal violence on both sides. And see also

These ultrarightists groups also have a long history of being used as ad hoc, plausibly deniable force multipliers by police. On which more soon, from the clippings file.

The case provides another interesting case of how the issue of “balance and completeness” tends to be handled by the Organizações Globo.

Anyone remotely familiar with the general outlines of the urban sociology of São Paulo — the details can get awfully complex — will recognize that the Fántastico sequence reproduced (with subtitles) above bears very little, if any, resemblance to the reality of life on the street.

Or let me put it more simply and personally: When we are walking down the Av. Paulista area and see young people dressed as punk rockers — piercings are very common, safety-pin earrings, t-shirts, the usual youth fashion statement — we do not tend to be worried about our own safety, so long as they are behaving themselves relatively normally. Which is usually.

(Watch out of those black-clad ones with the anarchist banners, though. They may not assault you, but they will sometimes throw a rock at a cop who will then start firing wilding in their, and your, general direction.)

When we see skinheads, we get a serious Clockwork Orange vibe and start scrambling to leave the area ASAP.

Furthermore, anyone who been exposed to the journalistic practice of TV Globo “journalism” in prime time will recognize the brutal admixture of sensationalism, crude, sentimentalist moralizing, a heavy-handed application of low-brow entertainment values, and the crude simplification and omission of information, context, and diverse viewpoints that typifies the genre.

On the national network in prime time, watched by tens of millions of viewers, this.

Buried somewhere on the news portal, viewed by perhaps thousands of readers, an interview with a leading figure in the “punk movement” — supplementing the 3 seconds of airtime dedicated to obtaining the views of such persons in the Fantástico segment.

Globo journalism director Ali Kamel has an all too familiar excuse for this manner of proceeding:

That is what it is to live in a free country: You are assailed by partial, truncated information, which generates more of the same from the other side, and, in the course of the debate, you wind up learning more and being able to form an opinion.

It is very similar to the manifesto produced by the gabbling Moonies who have taken over PBS in the United States, in fact:

PBS recognizes that the producer of informational content deals neither in absolute truth nor in absolute objectivity. Information is by nature fragmentary; the honesty of a program, Web site, or other content can never be measured by a precise, scientifically verifiable formula. Therefore, content quality must depend, at bottom, on the producer’s professionalism, independence, honesty, integrity, sound judgment, common sense, open mindedness, and intention to inform, not to propagandize.PBS Editorial Standards

These people invoke a specious equivalence between (1) statements of Truth in a metaphysical sense and (2) a practical attempt to produce factual information that is as solid, infodense and complete as we can humanly make it at a given point in time. Subject to future revision as new facts come in.

They use this as justification for denying that there is any point to making an honest effort to produce reliable information. What is “honesty?” What is “Truth”? (I tend to think of this as the Pontius Pilate theory of journalism.)

No such thing is possible. Traditional journalistics “ethics” — I prefer to think of them as “information quality of service controls” — are utopian and impracticable.

Or think of Richard Edelman’s recent account of the Kurosawa classic Rashomon:

Edelman draws the same moral from the story, but has apparently never actually seen the film.

Because in the end, something is revealed.

An honest effort, for example, to hear from a variety of sources on punk-skinhead violence in São Paulo — there are acres of debates on Brazil Indymedia on the subject, for example — would have discovered that, in general, both punks and skinheads will tell you vehemently that punks are punks (with a bewildering number of schisms and variants, which can be found writing manifestos against one another) and skinheads are skinheads (with a bewildering number of schisms and variants, which can sometime be found blowing or bludgeoning one another’s brains out when not lynching ethnic and religious minorities, faggots, and labor organizers of various kinds.)

Neither would accept the hypothesis that skinheads and their rivals are simply species of the genius punk, or that the music they produce and consume is of the same genre.

Why should we accept their own view of the differences between the groups, rather than Globo’s reduction of the species to a single genus?

Because their perception of their relationship explains why they behave they do.

Globo’s explanation seems to be that the behavior is simply evil and inexplicable. Which is no explanation at all.

Furthermore, an honest account of what can be discovered by actually studying the content of skinhead literature would also lead you to explore the significant element of programmatic political violence in the skinhead phenomenon.

To the extent that these groups seriously embrace integralismo — “tradition, family and property” — or some other version of fascist or fascist-inspired ideology, for example, they also tend to embrace and celebrate what you see more and more of in Colombia these days: clandestine mass graves filled with the bullet-riddled remains of labor organizers.

Had the reporter on the segment given equal time to a spokesman for the skinhead movement — as the Viva Favela reporter did to members of Rio militias and drug gangs — I think that would have been made abundantly clear.

Ramones fans (the Ramones are amazingly popular in Brazil, go figure) = members of ultrarightist death squads.

Similarly, fans of Racionais MC = the PCC = the African National Congress = the FARC.


Ecce Globo.

You could make a lot of room for more substantial interviews with more interview subjects by simply cutting out all the stock footage of punk rock musical acts that occupies over half the airtime of the segment.

Sources consulted:

  1. a member of the band “No to 88” — we later learn that 88 is code for “HH,” or “Heil Hitler”
  2. a police delegada (unit or relationship to any of the cases in question not identified)
  3. relative of a skinhead victim of “punk violence”
  4. relative of a victim of “punk violence” not related to inter-group conflict
  5. a victim of skinhead violence who was wearing a Cólera T-shirt — and band that identifies itself as “libertarian” and born out of the “Rights Right Now” protests against the dictatorship

Or, as Globo once referred (mendaciously) to a million+ “Rights Right Now” march, a “spontaneous celebration of the anniversary of the city of São Paulo.” Before pulling the plug on any coverage of the movement at all. Causing Gen. Figueiredo to chortle, “If the Jornal Nacional does not report it, it does not exist.”

This can also be true of things the Jornal Nacional does report, mind you. Even today.

Average screen time afforded each: less than 10 seconds. Of these, only the final victim is allowed to put more than four or five words together at a time. Informational content of the statements aired: practically nil.

I will translate some of the interview by G1’s special correspondent, Marcelo Mora, in a bit. It is admirable that G1 is giving this proponent of the cultural movement in question some “equal time.”

When I showed the segment to my wife — a veteran cultural journalist — she immediately said, “they should have interviewed Clemente of the Inocentes.” And several other figures, representing different tendencies in the “movement.”

One thing that Mora manages to omit mentioning, however, is, if the “movement” is being stigmatized, who precisely is doing the stigmatizing.

Globo is doing the stigmatizing.

Para começo de conversa, os punks são anarquistas, contra o sistema, mas não são violentos. Punks das antigas, como Clemente, vocalista do Inocentes, banda com 26 anos de estrada, e ex-punks, como Gustavo Eduardo Araújo Brasil, historiador de 34 anos e que mora em Ilhéus (BA), atos violentos de punks – e da juventude em geral -, como dos últimos dias em São Paulo, são reflexo da violência da sociedade, como fazem questão de ressaltar.


Apesar de pacifista, em seus 30 anos de existência o movimento acabou estigmatizado como agressivo pela mídia. Talvez pelas roupas sujas e rasgadas, as mesmas com as quais o empresário Malcolm McLaren vestiu os pupilos Steve Jones, Paul Cook, Sid Vicious e Johnny Rotten, integrantes da banda inglesa Sex Pistols, por ocasião do lançamento do mítico álbum Never Mind the Bollocks, em 1977, talvez pelos cabelos espetados, pelos piercings ou pela porrada sonora das bandas: enfim, desde o início, surgiu para chocar, para contestar. Mas não para agredir.


No Brasil, a cena punk se consolidou com o festival O Começo do Fim do Mundo, realizado no Sesc Fábrica da Pompéia, na Zona Oeste da capital paulista, em 1982, e que contou com a participação de várias bandas. Desde então, os punks passaram a ser reconhecidos nas ruas das mais diversas cidades do país como uma tribo.


Para Clemente, o movimento ainda perdura e atrai jovens nos dias de hoje devido à sua espontaneidade. E os atos de violência dos últimos dias são isolados. “Teoricamente, os punks são pacifistas. Mas quando junta um bando de jovens é difícil segurar. A violência, na verdade, não é privilégio dos jovens da periferia. Há uma tendência à violência da sociedade como um todo. Não são só punks que se envolvem em atos de violência”, argumenta o vocalista do Inocentes.


Basta lembrar dos jovens abonados da Barra da Tijuca, no Rio de Janeiro, que surraram e roubaram uma empregada doméstica que esperava a condução em um ponto de ônibus para voltar para casa. Ou dos freqüentadores de academias de artes marciais e musculação que saem de casa com apetrechos como soco-inglês e vivem se atracando pelas ruas de São Paulo.


Rixa antiga


A rixa entre esquerda e direita precede – e explica – a rixa entre punks e skinheads. Punks são anarquistas; ou seja, de extrema esquerda. E skinheads, nazistas; de extrema direita. Desta forma, criou-se naturalmente a rivalidade entre estas tribos, acrescentando assim um ingrediente a mais na violência.

The violent tensions between left and right preceeds — and explains — the violent tensions between punks and skinheads. Punks are anarchists; that is, of the extreme left. The skinheads are Nazia; of the extreme right.

I could line you up a dozen interviews by this afternoon contesting that Manichaean interpretation of the cultural dynamic here.

Thus, a natural rivalry among the tribes emerged, adding one more ingredient to the violence.

Na semana passada, um grupo de 20 punks cruzou com quatro skinheads na Avenida Tiradentes, perto da estação da Luz. Como resultado, um adolescente de 17 anos, supostamente um “careca”, foi espancado ferozmente e mandado para o hospital com traumatismo craniano. Os outros três conseguiram fugir. A polícia prendeu dez punks que participaram da ação. Eles vão responder criminalmente por tentativa de homicídio.


Desde o início dos anos 80, são comuns os confrontos entre integrantes dos dois grupos em São Paulo. Mas a rivalidade ocorre em qualquer lugar, até mesmo na pacífica Bahia de todos os santos. “Em 1990, eu fui para Salvador e lá tinha muita rivalidade com os ‘carecas’. Carrego algumas cicatrizes desta época”, conta Gustavo Araújo, que foi punk dos 14 aos 25 anos.


Já a masterpiercer (colocadora de piercing) e DJ Cláudia Zuba, de 38 anos e punk dos 16 aos 20 anos, conta que perdeu muitos amigos nessas brigas entre as tribos. “Pelo menos uns oito amigos morreram nestas ‘tretas’ com os skinheads ou os carecas. Os skinheads são nazistas e os carecas, nacionalistas”, explicou.


Mesmo distante da cena punk das grandes metrópoles, Gustavo decidiu virar punk por causa do pai. “Meu pai era integralista. Então, como todo bom adolescente, fui contra o meu pai. Quando me deparei com o anarquismo, me identifiquei”, relembra, não sem abrir mão do bom humor.


Por conta dessa identificação, Gustavo entrou de cabeça no movimento e participava de quase todo protesto ou passeata de trabalhadores. “Decidi sair porque não agüentava mais correr da polícia. Nas passeatas, os próprios policiais atiçavam os skinheads contra nós e depois do tumulto armado só desciam a borracha em nós”, recorda Gustavo.




Para ele, no entanto, o que marca o movimento punk é o pacifismo. “Essa coisa da agressão é mais da juventude. O estigma (de violento) existe, mas não condiz com a realidade. As roupas, a aparência, com aqueles cabelos espetados, tinham um significado muito forte. Se em cidade grande já olham torto, imagina em Ilhéus como me olhavam”, brinca o pesquisador.


Depois de 30 anos – 25 anos no Brasil-, o movimento, obviamente, não carrega mais todo o seu peso panfletário como dos anos iniciais, perdeu sua força e se diluiu. Para Cláudia, a violência gratuita de punks que desconhecem a ideologia está descaracterizando o movimento.


“Os que se dizem punks hoje em dia batem em gays, matam um atendente por causa de um desconto de R$ 0,60. Para mim, são bandidos. O que era ideologia virou banditismo”, afirmou, ao relembrar do assassinato de um balconista em um quiosque no último dia 15 no terminal D. Pedro II, no centro de São Paulo.


“Muitos jovens se dizem punks e nem conhecem a ideologia do movimento. São 30 anos, não é mais como antigamente. Nem bandas representativas, um dos pilares do movimento, há mais hoje em dia”, lamenta Clemente.


Apesar disso, o Inocentes continua nas trincheiras, despejando decibéis nos ouvidos de públicos dos mais diversificados em porões de casas alternativas de shows de rock no centro da capital . “Costumo dizer que nos nossos shows vão até punks”, brinca Clemente.



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