Brazilians make light of grim situation

  • meme humour in the time of gloom
- Agence France-Presse, SAO PAULO
One meme has tourists taking pictures next to a leaning Tower of Pisa with the face of president

Jun 18, 2017-Political corruption, economic crisis, rampant crime—the headlines in Brazil are grim, so locals have taken to online memes that often go viral to relieve the stress.

A flurry of memes—funny images or video coupled with text that are spread online—making light of the country’s bleak situation have taken the internet by storm in a country that has the world’s second largest number of Facebook users.

One popular meme has tourists taking pictures next to a leaning Tower of Pisa with the face of the deeply unpopular president Michel Temer on it.

Another has Tite, the coach of the national football team, being proclaimed president. Sandro Sanfelice says that the meme creators are like the orchestra aboard the Titanic: they’ll keep playing even as the country sinks under a flood of scandal and corruption.

Sanfelice, a 28-year-old who works for a phone company in the southern city of Curitiba, has 1.3 million followers on his specialty Facebook page Capinaremos. He claims that some of his memes have reached five million users. To keep up with the fast pace of news in Brazil, Sanfelice last year created “Capina Meme Factory,” a closed Facebook page that gathers meme producers.

Any member can propose a meme, and if it meets the group’s ethical standards and seems funny, one of the group’s 10 volunteer moderators will publish it.

Once in cyberspace, the meme, like a passing comet, will likely have a bright but limited lifespan.

Top news stories “end up becoming memes almost instantly, from something banal to the electoral court decision” that recently cleared Temer of election wrongdoing, said Sanfelice.

One of the group’s biggest nights was on May 17, when the media group O Globo published a recording of Temer supposedly discussing a hush money payment to a jailed politician.

Soon pictures satirizing Temer in every way possible—as well as pictures of his political nemeses, former leftist presidents Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff, laughing uproariously — spread online like wildfire. Not everyone was amused, apparently. A few days later the meme creators received an email from the presidency “telling us that the official pictures of Temer could not be used for any purpose other than journalism,” Sanfelice said. 

That wrist-slapping gave them pause, but the humorists decided nevertheless to continue publishing memes featuring Temer.

Published: 18-06-2017 07:54

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