More Notes on the Tropical Dream Factory: Globo, Manzon, and Lourival Fontes


Manzon’s homage to Supreme Court justice Luiz Gallotti (1974)

The age of ethics is over. The era of humanism is definitively dead. We are entering the age of pragmatism, or worse, of casuistry, which is pragmatism’s degenerate form. In short: An age of off-the-rack morality, of ideological pickpockets. –Millôr Fernandes, The Bible of Chaos

“What experience and history teaches us is that people and governments have never learned anything from history, or acted on principles deduced from it” –G.W.F. Hegel

“History teaches us that history can teach us nothing.”

What was that crazy German smoking, anyway?

Part of an ongoing follow-up to

As I was saying, the Globo network here in Brazil is not fond of revisiting its history, which included a quid pro quo coexistence with the president-generals and a very close relationship indeed with Carlismo.

Globo tends to deploy, at maximum volume, two basic types of message to drown this past out: (1) a revisionist history of the network, and (2) an insistence on the myth of Brazil, Nation of the Future.

Or as the Bierce-like Millôr called it, “Brazil, ever and always the eternal Nation of the Future.”

It can be observed using stealth marketing techniques to promote these memes.

See, for example

A review of a Globo-published “memory project” is written by an academic book reviewer who fails to fully disclose a material relationship with the publisher — and subject — of the book reviewed.

It appears in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Ecce Globo.

Meme No. 2 is omnipresent and ubiquitious: What is past is past. Let’s get on with things.

There is a certain convergence between Globo’s interest in promoting this meme and the anxiety of former members of the military regime over pressure to rescind the amnesty law here, as Argentina and Chile have done.

Which is why it was fascinating to see Globo airing an homage, last evening, to the great Jean Manzon of Paris-Match, the Department of Press and Propaganda, and the IPES.

The documentary commemorates the aesthetic excellence of Manzon’s work while, my impression was, simply omitting its ethical, social and political dimension.

Truth is beauty and beauty, truth.

See

I am going to try to see if I can get a copy of some excerpts of that documentary and subtitle them for you. I do have the ability to record straight off the old Positivo plasma-screen TV. One of these days I should get serious and stop just relying on spotty posting to YouTube.

The Internet is far from being a complete representation of the current state of global knowledge and the Baconian advancement of human learning. It is ever and always the complete representation of the current state of global knowledge and the Baconian advancement of human learning of the Future.

At any rate, today I wanted to type in some more excerpts from my mounting pile of notes on Manzon and his network of Maecenas and collaborators for you.

In this case, a capsule history from an academic paper produced by a team an UMESP, the Methodist University of São Paulo. Partial cite (I am not even sure, exactly, what proper citation style is in Brazilian academia):

“De Quintino Bocaiúva a Duda Mendonça: breve história dos marqueteiros políticos no Brasil republicano.” Trabalho apresentado ao Núcleo de Publicidade e Propaganda do XXVIII Congresso Brasileiro de Ciência da Comunicação.

Lourival Fontes: “Goebbels” brasileiro da Era Vargas

Lourival Fontes: The Brazilian “Goebbels” of the Vargas Era

Um dos mais importantes coordenadores políticos da Era Vargas, o escritor e jornalista Lourival Fontes nasceu na cidade sergipana de Riachão do Dantas, em 20 de julho de 1899. Simpatizante do socialismo na juventude, tornou-se admirador do fascismo e de Benito Mussolini após uma viagem à Europa, fato que irá permear sua atuação como marqueteiro de Vargas. Foi colaborador de jornais em Aracaju e Salvador. Na capital baiana, fundou A Hora Literária (nome do veículo em itálico) e lá iniciou os estudos em Direito, encerrados no Rio de Janeiro em 1922 (CALLADO, 1999).

One of the most important political coordinators of the Vargas Era, writer and journalist Lourival Fontes was born in Riachão do Dantas, Sergipe, on July 20, 1889. A socialist sympathizer in his youth, he became an admirer of fascism and Mussolini after a trip to Europe, a fact that would permeate his activities as a political marketer for Vargas. He contributed to newspapers in Aracaju and Salvador. In the capital of Bahia, he founded A Hora Literária … and started law school, which he finished in Rio in 1922.

Lourival Fontes, que faleceu em 1967, utilizou o marketing político para “vender” as idéias da ditadura getulista e até certo ponto obteve êxito, se levarmos em conta que esteve à frente da coordenação de comunicação do governo Vargas por um período de 12 anos (1934-1942; 1950-1954). Considerado o “Goebbels” brasileiro, em alusão ao nome do chefe da Propaganda Nazista, o jornalista Lourival Fontes idealizará estratégias de promoção da ditadura Vargas e de culto à imagem do presidente da República.

Fontes, who died in 1967, used political marketing to “sell” the ideas of Vargas dictatorship, and was successful at doing so, up to a point, considering that he ran the government communications office for 12 years in all (1934-42; 1950-54). Considered the “Brazilian Goebbels” … Fontes would conceive promotional strategies for the Vargas regime and Vargas’ own cult of personality.

Considered by whom? The characterization calls for a footnote.

Durante o governo Vargas, coordenou o DPDC – Departamento de Propaganda e Difusão Cultural por três anos até o mesmo se transformar no temido DIP – Departamento de Imprensa e Propaganda, em 1939, de onde foi demitido em 1942 por pressões das lideranças militares. Com a vitória de Vargas em 1950, voltou ao Palácio do Catete, onde assumiu a chefia do Gabinete Civil da Presidência da República.

During the Vargas government, he coordinated the Department of Propaganda and Cultural Dissemination for three years before being named tohead the DIP, the department of Press and Propaganda, in 1939, a post from which he was dismissed in 1942 due to pressure from military leaders. With the democratic election of Vargas in 1950, he returned to the presidential palace to serve as presidential chief of staff.

No tocante aos jornais, Lourival Fontes pôs em prática uma das mais sistemáticas campanhas de propaganda oficial. Recomendou a Getúlio Vargas que não falasse diretamente com jornalistas – uma das raríssimas exceções foi à entrevista concedida a Samuel Wainer, do jornal Última Hora (nome do veículo em itálico). Quando ocorriam as coletivas, o jornalista agia com mão-de-ferro e solicitava que as perguntas fossem encaminhadas a ele por escrito. Em seguida as selecionava, antes de encaminhá-las ao presidente.

With respect to newspapers, Fontes practiced one of the most systematic official propaganda campaigns [ever.] He advised Vargas not to speak directly with journalists — a rare exception was the interview granted to Samuel Wainer of Última Hora. During press conferences, Fontes ran them with an iron hand, requiring the submission of questions in advance, in writing, which he then selected before addressing them to Vargas.

No entanto, o mecanismo mais usual e pernicioso foi a “cala-boca” através das subvenções para a compra do papel de imprensa (RIBEIRO, 2002). Como o governo federal importava a maior parte do produto, vendia com valores subvencionados às empresas jornalísticas. Essa prática serviu geralmente como forma de pressão, prejudicando os jornais que criticavam as ações governamentais. Os principais veículos atingidos foram o Diário de Notícias (nome do veículo em itálico), do Rio de Janeiro, coordenado por Orlando Dantas, e a revista Diretrizes (nome do veículo em itálico), dirigida por Samuel Wainer, Maurício Goulart e Otávio Malta.

The most frequent, and pernicious, mechanism used, however, was “shutting mouths” using subsidies for the purchase of newsprint. Since the federal government imported most of this product, it sold them at subsidized prices to press organizations. This practice was used to pressure papers who criticized government actions. The principal victims were Diário de Notícias of Rio, run by Orlando Dantas, and Diretrizes magazine, run by Wainer, Maurício Goulart and Otávio Malta.

A liberação de crédito, de acordo com SODRÉ (1966), foi outro mecanismo de controle sobre os jornais.No período entre 1950 e 1952, o jornal O Globo (nome do veículo em itálico) teria obtido empréstimos no Banco do Brasil que alcançaram o valor de mais de um milhão dólares à época. O mesmo critério regeu a distribuição da publicidade dos órgãos do governo. O DIP possuía três listas com nomes de jornais (RIBEIRO, 2002): aqueles que deveriam receber as cotas, os que podiam ganhá-las, de acordo com o alinhamento político, e outros que jamais poderiam receber publicidade oficial. Os jornais mais críticos sofreram intervenção, a exemplo dos jornais A Manhã (nome do veículo em itálico) e O Estado de São Paulo (nome do veículo em itálico), incorporados ao patrimônio nacional.

The concession of credit, according to Sodré (1966), was another mechanism for controlling newspapers. Between 1950 and 1952, the O Globo newspaper reportedly obtained loans from the Banco do Brasil that exceeded $1 million, [a lot of money at the time.] The same principle governed the distribution of advertising buys by government agencies. The DIP had three lists of newspapers: Those authorized to receive ads, those that could earn them, by realigning themselve politically, and others who were banned from receiving official advertising. The more critical newspapers, such as A Manhã and the Estado do S. Paulo, suffered government intervention and were nationalized.

Implementar um sistema de rede de rádios, conforme os modelos da Alemanha nazista e da Itália fascista,foi outra meta de Lourival Fontes. Um dos seus projetos foi o programa “A Hora do Brasil”, de 1934, que veiculava notícias, discursos políticos e apresentações de cantores populares. Além disso, Vargas adotou marchinhas para cativar o público, bem como bordões como “Trabalhadores do Brasil” e a figura do “marmiteiro”, trabalhador que levava comida de casa ao local de trabalho (QUEIROZ, 2005).

Implementing a national radio network, based on the Nazi German and Italian fascist models, was another of Fontes’ goals. One such project was the program “The Brazil Hour” (1934), which aired news, political speeches and popular singers. Vargas also adopted popular songs to captivate the public, as well as slogans like “Workers of Brazil” and the figure of the “lunchpail man” — the worker who brings his lunch from home.

Os investimentos em produção se estenderam ao cinema com a fundação, em 1936, do INCE-Instituto Nacional de Cinema Educativo, quando o governo começou a produzir filmes que consideravaimportantes para o divulgar sua propaganda ideológica. O teatro, por sua vez, também foi alvo do marketing político da ditadura do Estado Novo. Vargas e integrantes do seu governo compareciam aos espetáculos teatrais e, às vezes, tornavam-se protagonistas cantando, dançando ou contando piadas no palco.

Investments in media production were extended to cinema with the foundation, in 1936, of INCE, the “national institute of educational film,”when the government began to produce films it considered important for spreading its ideological propaganda. The theater, in turn, was also targeted by political marketing during the Estado Novo dictatorship. Vargas and members of his government attended plays and, at times, even acted in them, singing, dancing or telling jokes on the stage.

A imagem de Getúlio Vargas foi divulgada de forma sistemática na imprensa, em peças publicitárias, livros escolares e eventos em formatos até gigantescos (CASTILHO, 1999). A presença do ditador era constante em inaugurações, visitas, comícios e datas comemorativas, principalmente o aniversário de Vargas e o Dia do Trabalho. Para registrar as ações do presidente, Lourival Fontes convidou Jean Manzon(corrigir, estava grafado Maçom), repórter fotográfico do “Paris Match” e “Paris Soccer”, importantes revistas francesas. Manzon trabalhou no Departamento de Fotografia e Cinema, vinculado ao DIP. Membro da Academia Brasileira de Letras, Vargas dará um tratamento especial aos intelectuais e escritores brasileiros, divulgando livros no exterior, abrindo espaço para a divulgação de obras em publicações editadas pelo DIP, concedendo honrarias e diversos prêmios. As colaborações dos escritores eram pagas pelo governo e aqueles em sintonia com o regime estavam entre os beneficiados, como Cassiano Ricardo e Orígenes Lessa.

The image of Vargas was systematically promoted in the press, in advertising campaigns, in school textbooks and at rallies, some of them enormous. The dictator was a constant presence at inaugurations, visits, rallies, and commemorations, most especially his birthday and Labor Day. To record the president’s activities, Lourival Fontes invited Jean Manzon … of Paris Match and Paris Soccer magazines.

Did you notice that the last guy announced to run the White House was a former ESPN sports marketing executive? (Our president, of course, used to own a baseball team. How much more bread & circuses can you get?)

Manzon worked in the DIP’s Photography & Film Dept. A member of the Brazilian Academy of Letters, Vargas would give Brazilian writers and intellectuals special treatment, publishing books abroad, opening space for the DIP to publish their works, distributing grants and various prizes. Writers who contributed were paid by the government, and those in tune with the regime benefited, such as Cassiano Ricardo and Orígenes Lessa.

Next chapter: Gen. Octávio Pereira da Costa, whose propaganda activities for president-general Geisel lies on the other side of the transition from the Vargas propaganda machine to Manzon’s documentaries for the (coup-plotting, U.S.-funded) IPES.

The kind of Humpty Dumptyist ideological promiscuity — “Who is to be master, and that is all” — that students of Mexico’s PRI will be familiar with, and which also seems to a point of pride with Globo.

More in a bit.

The general drift of my argument being that this is not the sort of thing we really want back in the good USA.

“Don’t tread on me,” right?

It gets rebranded as “innovation,” but it is actually more of the same old same old.


‘TV Globo is the Brazilian Hollywood,’ Veja, 1976, during the Geisel dictatorship. “If the Jornal Nacional does not report it, it never happened,” said Gen. Figueiredo. Nowadays, the same can often be said of what it does report.

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