Carnival against Capitalism

Life is meant to be lived!


Three months ago Adbusters pondered what it would be like if Brazilians took the spirit of Carnival and turned it against the corporations with whom they are battling for their very future, their very soul. Now as the uprising on the streets of São Paulo, Rio continue to gain momentum, we see those musings in an entirely new light…

Yesterday, the prefecture of São Paulo heeded to the people’s demands and retracted their plan for a bus fare increase, signaling the first victory of the Brazilian uprising! The protest scheduled for today has been scrapped and turned into a signature Brazilian-style celebration… the Carnival against Capitalism has finally begun!

Here is that short blast from Adbusters #107 last April:

Carnival is the largest spectacle on Earth. There was a time when Carnival was about grit, spirit, struggle, passion, sensuality, contrast, celebration, people. It was simple. Now, Carnival consists of naked dancers performing erotic acts with float-size cameras; bronzed beauty queens massaging products for advertisers; an entire megacity on hold so that a party-bazaar the size of Nascar can pass unhindered through the streets, reminding all that life is meant to be lived.

Corporations have all but trademarked the country’s most sacred season – creating the world’s first total advertisement. The same process that turned Jesus into Santa Claus, love into a Valentine’s gift and celebration into a ticketed event, is now turning the magical pulse of Brazil into a corporate brand to sell beer, telephones and energy drinks. Today, the world’s largest corporations fund the favela schools who create the acts that draw the adoring crowds. No corporate cash = no spot in the most-cherished downtown precession.

Within this, a new resurgent counter carnival has begun. Everyday unbranded Brazilians are fleeing into the side streets, bypassing the total ad entirely. The battle between the people and the takeover is on, and the metaphor is trending around the world. If the street urchins can win out against the corporations; if the corporate carnival can be tossed for a more authentic, more real, more close-to-the-ground carnival; then maybe we here in the West can breathe real air again.

And here’s another update from Adbusters’ Creative Director Pedro Inoue in São Paulo:

The state and prefecture of SP yesterday have pulled back and accepted the decrease of the bus fare. The protest scheduled for today has turned into a celebration and there will probably be more meetings to see what will be the next target.

Somethings have changed from last week to this one, like the way ordinary people see protest culture and how it can actually change things for the better. The dialogue is now open with the prefecture, major and governor; and it’s beginning to be understood that the old media and their discourse has to change and incorporate transparency – quoting Paul Mason, “today with social media, truth travels faster than lies, making all propaganda incendiary.”

The main shift however was that people became aware of each other and their power as a connected network. There is the old and there is the new. This makes the politicians scared as hell to connect with this new reality, and it opens up all possibilities for this new generation.

Time to get cracking and start aligning ourselves with the fight for the imaginary narratives through out the world.

Watch a live stream of today's celebrations in Brazil on PostTv.