Wednesday, April 13, 2016

More Thoughts On Pie Fights and Politics

Brazilian footballer Gérson

More than a few years ago, a film I dearly love "Moon over Parador" was filmed mostly here in Ouro Preto. It is one of those very silly-everyone-is-in-it over the top films with a message - mostly how the CIA messed up much of Latin America by supporting some very nasty dictatorships. For those of us who have lived and worked in Latin America it is a very poignant parody of the 80’s.

I recently wrote a posting here about the current pie fights and shenanigans in politics  and how I am morphing, spiritually speaking. The political stress here has been giving me not a few nightmares about things that I saw and experienced living under martial law in Guatemala.

Yesterday on our way home from work, M & I stopped off at the farmácia, and with out thinking, stepped into a lively discussion re: the impeachment proceedings going on. One guy in line told me “You know the CIA is behind it.” 

And I thought, with a big sigh, oh no, here we go again... 

Steady as she goes, gringo.

Milton immediately, and very, very calmly began to talk to him… tactfully showing him that he was off by quite a few meters. I finally entered into it, and said, 

"Look, its 2016, not 1980… and unfortunately no one in the States really gives a damn about Brasil… most people I know haven’t even bothered to ask me at all what is going on down here. And most estadounidenses are preoccupied by basketball, ISIS and spring…”

Everyone laughed. And I think it all ended well…

I shared this incident with a colleague and he reminded me of the Lei de Gérson (Gérson's law) which is, and I quote Wikipedia,

In Brazilian culture, Gérson's Law (Portuguese: Lei de Gérson) is an adage which reflects the way Brazilians behave towards themselves, immortalizing concepts such as jeitinho and malandragem. In short, Gérson's Law is taking advantage of every thing and every one and having no concern for ethics. This expression came into use since a TV commercial for the cigarette brand Vila Rica, starring Brazilian footballer Gérson, was aired around 1970. While he is a very well known football player in Brazil and worldwide, Gérson had always been a source for controversy. In the commercial, that particular cigarette brand was portrayed as advantageous for being better and cheaper in comparison to other brands, and at the end of the commercial, Gérson says "I like to get an advantage in everything". Later, the player resented having his image connected to the ad, since all kinds of unethical behaviors were linked to his name with reference to the law. (obrigado Charles for the remind!)

The Vila Rica brand uses the old name for Ouro Preto, btw.

To those of my two deeply beloved and dedicated readers, the Lei de Gérson is a big and very obvious part of Brazilian culture, but to be honest, it applies just about anywhere. But we here have made it a true art form... all the way to the current political scandals happening in Brasília at the moment. Rarely do we want to take responsibility for any of own actions, it is far easier to blame the other… it applies in many of the diverse places I have lived, but I digress.

Yesterday's farmácia incident reminded me as well of living in Guatemala or "Parador" in the 80’s. And how I was often approached by locals in a café or market and was asked something like,

“What do you think of our problem?”

Since it was early 80's Guatemala and we were smack dab in the middle of a very, very violent and often scarry US supported military dictatorship, one never really knew who you were talking to. I soon learned to avert disaster with a,

“You know you don’t really need a foreigner’s opinion about the situation. Guatemalans are clearly able to solve this problem. If you came to my house and told me to move the furniture and paint the room a different color, I’d be offended. This is the same thing.”

I always, I mean always got an offer of a free beer or drink or coffee after this. And I used the  opportunity to  tone up my español around lighter subjects related to art, music or futebol.

So maybe, just maybe its time to dust off that old pre Powerpoint presentation, translate it from español to the world’s most beautiful language aka “português mineiro”… uai!

So I leave you dear ones, with the the Paradorian National Anthem here sung by Sammy Davis Jr. with the over the top ending filmed in our Praça Tiradentes of  "Luar sobre Parador":