It's Carnival, and this year seems like nothing out of the ordinary: blocos abound, lots of traffic accidents, men peeing everywhere, the fanfare of the Rio and São Paulo parades, rich and famous Brazilians and gringos flocking to the Sambodrome, massive crowds at Salvador's celebrations, and some of the nation's well-heeled fleeing the major cities for the long weekend. Then, this video surfaced a few days ago and quickly went viral:
The woman, a journalist named Rachel Sheherazade from João Pessoa, Paraíba, became a hit with her frank and critical take on Carnival, expressing frustration with the commercialization of the celebration and with public services that cater to drunken revelers but are in short supply the rest of the year. I was impressed with the video, since it's not too common to find an outspoken female commentator on TV in Brazil, especially talking about social issues or sensitive cultural issues.
Carnival can be surprisingly devisive; ask a Brazilian what he or she thinks about Carnival and you can get some interesting answers. Some don't like how everything stops, disrupting business, productivity and education. Others just don't like the excessiveness of the drinking and partying. It doesn't always divide down socioeconomic lines; like the video mentions, Carnival has become more and more expensive, and some of the wealthy and middle class simply go to different events, but still celebrate. Carnival may be one of the things Brazil is best known for, but it's not as universally beloved as you'd think.