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Uh... who's idea was this?
January 31, 2008 3:57 PM   Subscribe

Should you be attending this year's carnival in Rio, you probably won't be seeing a huge float rolling down the parade route depicting an enormous pile of emaciated corpses and a samba-dancing Hitler. But that's only thanks to a Brazilian judge's decision.
posted by flapjax at midnite (53 comments total)

 
I think that they should just do it and pay the fine. You only live once.
posted by roll truck roll at 4:01 PM on January 31, 2008


Wow. Just...wow. How could anybody think this was a good idea? Especially to promote your samba school?
posted by retronic at 4:02 PM on January 31, 2008


Aw geez, not this shit again. *holds forehead*

Frankly, I don't see why the jews are upset. If seeing a corpse ridden float bothers them that much, they should totally just stop being jewish.
posted by milarepa at 4:04 PM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


...and a samba-dancing Hitler.

That's not technically true. It wasnt meant to be a festive float. It has no dancers, as stated and one person solemnly dressed as Hitler.

Still in astoundingly bad taste but thought I'd correct that misreading.
posted by vacapinta at 4:10 PM on January 31, 2008


Indeed, sorry about the misreading.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:12 PM on January 31, 2008


I always blamed the Holocaust on a style of Brazilian music.

I blamed it on the bossa nova.
posted by Astro Zombie at 4:44 PM on January 31, 2008


The goys from Brazil
posted by mosk at 4:51 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


To soon?
posted by Mr_Zero at 4:59 PM on January 31, 2008


Especially to promote your samba school?

A samba school is a group that to exists enter a float, song and troupe of dancers in the carnival parade competition. Sometimes they are from actual schools but more often it's a neighborhood organization or club. So they they wouldn't have been using the float to promote another business, the business is the float.

It's not unusual for the floats to make a social statement. In the past there've been floats promoting condom use, criticizing Bush, and, if I remember right, lamenting the arrival of Columbus and the slave trade. The school didn't mean any harm or disrespect, they were just naive on how this would play out on a larger stage.
posted by hydrophonic at 5:05 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


You go ahead and do that, AZ. Goddamn bossa nova, with its goddamn magic spell.
posted by ourobouros at 5:06 PM on January 31, 2008


You know who else liked to samba dance? Oh, wait...
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:15 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


Jeez, I can just imagine the killing of the Sexy-Brazilian-Carivale-Buzz if that thing were to roll down the street.
posted by snsranch at 5:16 PM on January 31, 2008


Judge to Hitler: Don't reign on my parade
posted by Sys Rq at 5:29 PM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


American media handling this sensitive topic...
let's see where this goes.
(too predictable, but i will sit this one out)
posted by Substrata at 5:45 PM on January 31, 2008


Its creator defended the float, which will move along under the theme "It's Horrifying".
posted by Artw at 5:49 PM on January 31, 2008


Looking at the pictures it's definately not the comedy Hitler float. Also, if he wanted to sell it to the satchis he'd make a mint: I mean, a holocaust parade float, and one made with suhc loving attention to detail - that's pretty incredible stuff. That's definate Jake and Dinos Chapman territory right there.

But in it's own context, where as hydrophonic points out floats about big issues are fairly normal, and they've already had a float about slavery for gods sake and you can't tell me that isn't as much of a big deal, are people really ruight to freak out? Does the holocaust really have some kind of special protected status that other historical events and genocides don't have? I do kind of wonder if it isn't the Jewish Federation of Rio de Janeiro that are being kind of dickish here.
posted by Artw at 6:04 PM on January 31, 2008


Prediction:

* Half of MeFi will react with how-could-they disgust and calls for scalps.

* The other half will chalk it up to "mere" cultural differences. "Hey man, it's a Brazil thing. You wouldn't understand and cannot judge these people."

Its creator defended the float, which will move along under the theme "It's Horrifying".

That definitely needs an jaunty exclamation point. "Come see the new hit show that's sweeping Broadway -- 'It's Horrifying!' From the makers of 'Seussical!'"
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 6:16 PM on January 31, 2008


You know who ELSE had an awful lotta coffee?
posted by shmegegge at 6:17 PM on January 31, 2008


I like that there's places in the world that don't do up their celebrations all nice and tidy like the Macy's Thanksgiving Parade. The group also has floats for cold, fear, and birth. How amazing. It just sounds like this culture is on to something strange and wonderful that I've just never experienced. Like something we've forgotten to do. How could you celebrate like that? How can you dance next to corpses? I just wouldn't know how to immerse myself in that explosion of feeling, of sorrow at death, fear of evil, joy at dancing and being alive, all at the same time. But I have to admit, too... that's what life is. All those things at once.
I don't know how we could mix death and life here and have a celebration. It would seem so utterly bizarre, macabre, and in bad taste. But it's making me wonder really what it is that we're missing when we don't have that communal outpouring of emotion for all things. Where death and life are not compartmentalized and sanitary.
The last part of me thinks this is damn insensitive and that a parade is the wrong place to "make a statement". But I don't know for sure. I think the creators of this float might just be placing the boundaries of life at a difference place than I understand them. Maybe it's not a natural way to live, to expect all things to have their time and place.
posted by dosterm at 6:35 PM on January 31, 2008 [3 favorites]


* Half of MeFi will react with how-could-they disgust and calls for scalps.

* The other half will chalk it up to "mere" cultural differences. "Hey man, it's a Brazil thing. You wouldn't understand and cannot judge these people."


* And the other half, who make up the majority, will try to extract lolz from the story.
posted by UbuRoivas at 6:53 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


You know, dosterm, you bring up an interesting point and this post and your comment remind me of this previous post , and that art really should reflect the entire range/spectrum of human experience.

I dig your perception of this, as it reminds me of Dia De Los Muertos, which is both a time of reflection and celebration.
posted by snsranch at 6:54 PM on January 31, 2008


Well, geez! Now you got me wondering consider why I'm recoiling from having my comment taken as being apologetic towards depictions of child pornography, when I just got finished being apologetic towards depictions of the Holocaust in a carnival. I'll have to think about that.
And yeah, it did strike me as similar to Dia De Los Muertos. I've always been fascinated with that idea of an open, happy celebration of the dead. It sounds like Halloween, without the horror. I just can't seem to quite reach that level of acceptance of death where I can face the end so... joyously.
posted by dosterm at 7:30 PM on January 31, 2008


consider *Sigh*.
posted by dosterm at 7:36 PM on January 31, 2008


dosterm, see also the so-called "jazz funerals" of New Orleans.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:40 PM on January 31, 2008


"É carnaval de Hitler e da Alemanha .."
posted by jonmc at 7:40 PM on January 31, 2008


Yes, as a Jew and a wanna-be capoeirista, I'm torn on this one.

The comparison with the slavery floats is a little off though. Slavery is the crucial, foundational phenomenon in Afro-Brazilian culture, and I see no problem with the descendants of slaves dealing with that however the hell they want. Unless that's a Jewish samba school, the parallel doesn't hold.

But after the foul Life is Beautiful got a pass, it's really too late to get very upset. Eventually, no matter how special we want to claim the Holocaust is, it will be another world-historical event. Almost everyone who can give firsthand testimony is dead; their children are dying, and so it will pass into myth.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 7:40 PM on January 31, 2008


...and so it will pass into myth. I totally agree with you up to that point, but I understand it's just a matter of semantics.
posted by snsranch at 7:53 PM on January 31, 2008


Yes, as a Jew and a wanna-be capoeirista, I'm torn on this one.

Just put it down to malicia, camara.

Also, has nobody mentioned candomble yet? That *might* have something to do with influencing the general attitude towards death & life, but I don't know enough about it to comment. Just a suggestion if anybody wants to take it up...
posted by UbuRoivas at 7:56 PM on January 31, 2008


Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Bergen-Belsen goes walking...
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:36 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


In 600 years Hitler will be the next Dracula. There will be cartoon versions of him advertising cereal.
posted by Pyry at 8:37 PM on January 31, 2008


snsranch: just to clarify, I'm not happy about the process of becoming ordinary history. I just think it's unstoppable, and I'm trying to be philosophical about that.
posted by i_am_joe's_spleen at 8:49 PM on January 31, 2008


Tall and tan and young and lovely
The girl from Bergen-Belsen goes walking...


And when she passes,
eash one she passes goes...

Ja!

I'm so sorry.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:16 PM on January 31, 2008 [2 favorites]


I don't know if there's any need to be unhappy about the holocaust becoming a part of history. On one hand, if things didn't, there's be such an enormous mess of taboos and subjects you needed to treat with respect and remember and commemorate that it would be impossible to deal with. We don't deal very much with the Armenian genocide, for instance (the only reason people still care that much about it is that the current Turkish state is a direct continuation of the groups that committed it), or Stalin's purges, for that matter. Not to mention earlier stuff. How many pre-1900 genocides can you mention without looking it up?

On the other hand, and this is more depressing, we (as humanity in general, it's probably different for Jews) don't need the Holocaust to have a special status, to stand as warning or some such, simply because there's bound to be some other mind-bogglingly huge atrocity along soon to replace it in the public mind.

Having said that, though, I don't think the parade float was such a great idea. I think it actually seemed respectful and well-done on itself, but it'd be hard to treat it as such within the context of the carnival. Sad for the people who seem to have worked so hard on it, though.

Oh, and the whole "It's a Brazilian thing" angle is somewhat true. Here in Mexico, and I assume Brazil is similar, Hitler and the Holocaust isn't really seen the same way as it is in Europe or the US. I regularly hear people approving of the Nazis. The old guy in the hardware store across the street from my house started up a conversation once, and, upon hearing that my father was German, started praising Hitler as "a great man, who stopped those people (the Jews) who were a danger to his country". This kind of thing is just not that unacceptable here, sadly, but I think it's more because of ignorance, in most cases, than because of any real ideology or considered standpoint.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 9:21 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


How about if they change the float into one of a police death squad gunning down orphans in the favelas?
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:03 PM on January 31, 2008 [1 favorite]


Sergio Niskier, the president of the Israelite Federation of Rio de Janerio, said it was "inappropriate" to punctuate the festival atmosphere of carnival with a scene symbolising the systematic murder of 6 million people in Nazi concentration camps between 1938 and 1945.

Ugh. I guess the other ~5 million don't count because they weren't Jewish? The Holocaust was an assault on humanity in general, and if you want to make a statement about it, you shouldn't just be concerned by the perceptions of one ethnic group.
posted by Citizen Premier at 10:04 PM on January 31, 2008


ok, let's see...

* Communists: extinct
* Intellectually disabled: don't understand the issue
* Gays: more interested in pride parades
* Gypsies: don't care, because they're only attending in order to pick pockets

that pretty much leaves only the Jews.
posted by UbuRoivas at 10:13 PM on January 31, 2008


I just want to say that as a gay, intellectually disabled, communist Gypsy, I find UbuRoivas' comment insensitive.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 10:16 PM on January 31, 2008


I'm by no means qualified to act as an expert on Brazilian culture, but when I was there I didn't see any love for Nazis. Brazil is, as a rule, quite proud of their role in the Allied powers. Not that I didn't hear some horrible racist remarks about blacks.

dosterm, in spite of my mentioning the jazz funerals above, I don't think carnival has much to do with death. There's the inversion of social norms, sure, but I can't think of any other death-related themes for parade floats.

I also don't think the Unidos da Viradouro school saw the holocaust as just another historical event. There's this quote from the first link:
"It's a very respectful float. It's going to depict it [the Holocaust] as a sort of alarm, so that it never be repeated," the creator, Paulo Barros, said. "I believe the carnival is also a way of showing what happens in the world," he said.
In other words, making parade floats is how we express ourselves, and we've got the whole country watching, so we're really going to try to make a point here. Unfortunately it didn't come off to well and maybe there should be an effort to tone it down on the heavy issues during carnival. I'm sure a lot of Brazilians who follow the samba schools are having the same debate right now.

On the other hand, here's a couple of nice costumes from the São Clemente school in 2005. Don't forget to brush your teeth!
posted by hydrophonic at 10:40 PM on January 31, 2008


Epic troll. All it needs now is the twin towers in the middle. I'm sure none of them had a clue as to how people would react to Hitler astride a pile of gruesome, emaciated bodies slowly cruising down the street behind festive floats full of dancers.
posted by IronLizard at 12:34 AM on February 1, 2008


Here's another article with a few details and quotes absent from the other links, for example:

"Although the samba group refused to say whether it had planned to have a dancing Hitler, it was listed in the official parade description as part of the float."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:24 AM on February 1, 2008


I just want to say that as a gay, intellectually disabled, communist Gypsy, I find UbuRoivas' comment insensitive.

how on earth did you find time out from proselytising Das Kapital at gays whilst trying to con them with a three-card-trick without slobbering all over yourself to post that comment?
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:35 AM on February 1, 2008


how on earth did you find time out from proselytising Das Kapital at gays whilst trying to con them with a three-card-trick without slobbering all over yourself to post that comment?

Time out? Whaddaya mean? I did all that while posting the comment.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:18 AM on February 1, 2008


I do kind of wonder if it isn't the Jewish Federation of Rio de Janeiro that are being kind of dickish here.

You do? Really? Here, read this:

The old guy in the hardware store across the street from my house started up a conversation once, and, upon hearing that my father was German, started praising Hitler as "a great man, who stopped those people (the Jews) who were a danger to his country".


It ain't ancient history, pal. Maybe in a thousand years you can stick Auschwitz in a samba parade and get away with it; right now I think objecting to it is the very opposite of dickish.
posted by languagehat at 6:20 AM on February 1, 2008


At the very least, can we praise the artistic merit? I thought the float was shockingly real-looking.
posted by agregoli at 7:14 AM on February 1, 2008


I'm by no means qualified to act as an expert on Brazilian culture, but when I was there I didn't see any love for Nazis.

They're all in the jungle, cloning each other.
posted by Artw at 7:27 AM on February 1, 2008


ime out? Whaddaya mean? I did all that while posting the comment.

goddamn fucking asperger kike fag romany type! how im himmel did we miss you?

(by the way, if you or any of your friends are interested, there's a chess competition coming up soon in Munchen. you're more than welcome to attend. wear your best spectacles and shoes. accommodation will be arranged)
posted by UbuRoivas at 8:07 AM on February 1, 2008


Did someone mention Carnival in Rio?
posted by deadcowdan at 8:42 AM on February 1, 2008


*blinks*

*blinks again*
posted by UbuRoivas at 4:21 PM on February 1, 2008


Did someone mention Carnival in Rio?

Heino ist Gott.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:12 PM on February 1, 2008


Gott ist tot.
posted by UbuRoivas at 5:24 PM on February 1, 2008


Someone please explain why it's perfectly fine to depict, even very graphically, the Holocaust in paintings, plays, films, and countless other artforms, but not in the medium of a samba school parade.
posted by agent99 at 8:16 AM on February 2, 2008


Context. It's everything.
posted by vacapinta at 11:06 AM on February 2, 2008


I still don't get it either, if previous floats about social issues were allowed.
posted by agregoli at 6:23 PM on February 2, 2008


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