NMM(-TV)SNB(B)CNN(P)BS: On Brazilian TV, The Real Mano Brown Sits Down

Additions to our running reel on the Brazilian boob-tube. Mano Brown gets real on Roda Viva, this time with no beats backing him. A Globo “reality show” franchise, Linha Direta, breaks down the barriers between fact and fiction while blending two extremely disparate genres: real crime and paranormal experiences. Yielding a dramatic docusoap, presented as journalism, that recreates the experiences of a man who says he witnessed a paranormal event that no one else heard or saw. Ecce Globo. Plus a look at the Great Tainted Milk Hysteria of 2007 from a somewhat less hysterical perspective.

I am fascinated, obviously, by the radicalism of Globo’s tendency to blend (and confuse) fact and fiction well-beyond the boundaries of , and have been reading some local analyses of the practice, building a bibliography.

The Ratinho scandal that put an end to an earlier attempt, by SBT, to knock Globo off the ratings throne here, provides an important historical reference point on the evolution of this tendency. I am reading a brilliant little 1999 thesis from the journalism school at the Federal University of Bahia on the subject:

Pablo Reis, “Ponto de Ruptura: Ratinho, auditório, mundo-cão e outros “bichos” da televisão”

Nos últimos anos da década de 90, uma forte mobilização em prol da imposição de limites para a televisão brasileira era fomentada. Imprensa, Igreja, ONG’s e políticos levantavam voz contra o baixo nível da programação exibida pelas TV’s abertas. O maior alvo para as críticas estava nos programas de auditório, com foco especial no Programa do Ratinho, condensador de grande audiência e muita polêmica. Nas páginas seguintes, Ratinho é estudado como o principal agente de um rompimento de paradigmas na televisão brasileira e a consequente instauração de um novo modelo.


It’s the tale of the tragic demise of an astonishingly weird talk-show host — the last of a long line — who was thoroughly thumping Globo in prime time until it was discovered that the Jerry Springer “real life” cases presented on his program were fakes, people down on their luck who were paid off and coerced into presenting themselves as sensationally weird persons with sensationally weird real life problems.

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Ratings-topping episodes: “The dog who ate a woman’s arm; the husband who cut off his wife’s ears.”

The astounding success of the Ratinho shows taught Globo and its rivals lessons they are still trying to capitalize on — which is why, in very general terms, you still see them pushing the boundary between sensationalistic fiction and “reality” right up to the bleeding limit.

That is a meatheaded, “for dummies” way of putting it, but I am in the middle of reading up on the subject and may be able to explain it more precisely later on, I hope.



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