Denying Brazil | Chicago Reader

Denying Brazil

Though they're often compared to soap operas, Brazilian telenovels are more like our prime-time miniseries and command significant coverage in the national media. This 2000 documentary by writer-director Joel Zito Araujo traces the history of Afro-Brazilian characters in these hugely popular shows, and while it was all news to me, I was struck by how closely their trajectory paralleled that of black characters on American TV, with stereotypes like the nurturing mammy and the loyal bodyguard gradually giving way to more nuanced characterizations. Like many observers of American race relations, Araujo equates positive media images with social justice, though I doubt The Cosby Show ever deflected a police baton. In Portuguese with subtitles. 92 min.

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