Once upon a shady time
In a faraway tropical land, on October 12th, it’s Children’s Day. It is celebrated during the whole month. In the year of 2016, it’s also the time for local elections. In an ordinary sunny day, a soldier comes marching along the highway: left, right! Left, right! He carries his knapsack, a sword and a tinder box. A part of the people freezes just by hearing the marching sound, others don’t.
There’s nothing wrong with this soldier. However, have you ever seen The Treachery of Images, by Renné Magritte? If you are able to accept Ceci n’est pas une pipe as a truth, maybe the soldier cannot be just a soldier. Especially in that land, which lived under a civil-military dictatorship for 21 years. Follow the math: political and financial crisis + democracy on debate = madness.
Recently, I used October as an opportunity to release a crowdfunding to finalize a documentary I had started as an undergrad. The subject is children’s literature as a way to escape censorship repression. I’m shocked with comments in defense of dictatorship. On the film’s Facebook page, people post lamentations because former president Dilma Rousseff survived, and other nonsenses besides that.
Yes, the fact that this side exists isn’t news. However, imagining it is different from facing it. Ok, you can argue: “Really? Did you make me read all this just to complain about a few virtual comments?” Unfortunately, I didn’t. I’m joining others who refuse being silenced again.
A friend of mine posted on the same social network that he’s afraid of wearing a sticker supporting a left candidate on local election day in Rio de Janeiro. The polling station was located in an opposition area. He decided to hide the sticker on his pocket until he realized how absurd that situation was. Two weeks later, an acquaintance posted online how humiliated she was by being public offended. Someone furiously honked the horns to get her attention and then scolded her because of the left candidate’s sticker. This year, even a famous actress was also insulted on the streets because of her political position. In this tropical land, an extreme right is rising.
Left, right! Left, right! The soldier from The tinder box was a random example to show the effects of a trauma. However, there are stories that were really written under repression in Brazil. Some of them were an outburst of a muzzled generation.
In the past, the content of newspapers, books, movies, music and television should be approved before reaching the Brazilian public. An editorial against the government, published after bend the censure, could result in harsh reprisals like invasion, vandalism and arrests.
With the media under surveillance and the country overwhelmed with problems, there was no reason to worry about children’s books. So, this genre was a place to be free. One of many examples is the writer’s revolt with the dictatorship that became the story of a bossy little king. He keeps all kingdom in jail because of complains about authoritarian decrees. In the book, the king shouts: “Shut up, shut up.” Three decades after the end of a dictatorship, there isn’t more space to shut up in front of the absurd. It’s necessary to stand up for empathy, democracy, and History knowledge. Let’s spread children’s books all over the world.