Message from Brazil 3 - Sunday Afternoon Telly
This is what a Sunday afternoon in Brazil looks like, through a slightly dodgy gogglebox. What? This little bird can't always be on the wing, you know what I mean? Plus, if I venture outside in this heat, I may evaporate. Pass the remote.
1) Pastor Jonatas Câmara addresses an enormous congregation at Igreja Evangélica Assembléia de Deus no Amazonas ["The Assembly of God Evangelical Church in Amazonas"], on their very own TV channel. In defence of 'o dízimo' (an obligatory payment to the church of ten percent of each worshipper's salary), the charismatic Evangelist preacher affirms, "I don't need your money, God doesn't need your money, but we need it for His Work."
On the church's plans for a new mission across the Atlantic: "Europe is preparing itself for the Antichrist's new global governance. As incredible as it may seem, we are taking God's work to the fallen kingdom that once ruled over Africa. It's interesting to note that, after all those years that Europe spent over in Africa, it is now African missionaries who are taking God's Word to the land of their former aggressors."
He goes on to tell the story of a church he visited in Spain, where a dwindling congregation divided by infighting and lack of resources was "saved" through his intervention, and the adoption of a Cuban missionary. "Ten years later, I returned to the same church to find they had payed back their crippling debts, had a united congregation of 150, and had sent 56 missionaries to Africa." Above Pastor Jonatas's head, the word JESUS is emblazoned in red, and at his feet flashes a telephone number for donations to the church.
2) De Volta Ao Passado ["Return to the Past"] (Rede Recorde)
In front of a live studio audience, the nervous and statuesque Katia from Sergipe is reunited with her first love - Emerson (24), who now works as an analyst in Sao Paulo. They shared a first kiss at the age of 12, under the watchful eye of Emerson's grandmother, and in spite of Katia's strict upbringing. Life led them in separate directions, and now they're reunited thanks to Rede Recorde's Programa do Gugu. Emerson's reaction to Katia is pretty ambivalent - maybe it's because she's about two feet taller than him (my mum calls it "small man syndrome").
3) Fluminense v Guarani (Globo)
Globo is by far the most watched channel in Brazil and part of Rede Globo, the largest broadcaster in Latin American, and the fourth largest in the world. Don't ask me about the football, I have no idea what's going on, all I know is there will be no ad breaks, and that the guy downstairs was so gutted by the score (whatever it was), that he had a little cry. Bless.
4) Meanwhile on 1001 Noites, ["1001 Nights"] it's teleshopping - just what the magpie ordered. The watches are on sale for four payments of £500 or so each, I wonder what it's like at the call centre - with all those rings on the one hand, how do you explain your chosen purchase? Not really my style, so I flick to…
5) De lá pra cá (TVE) A documentary about Sinhô - also known as 'The King of Samba'. Born in Rio in 1888, he was catapulted to fame during carnival of 1920, with his samba "Fala Meu Louro" ["Talk To Me Blondie']. At a time when music from Bahia accompanied economic migrants in search of work in "the marvellous city", it was common knowledge that Sinho covered as many songs as he penned.
He was openly prejudiced against people from Bahia - famously saying, "I like Bahia - it's up there and I'm down here." This attitude must have seemed pretty rich to the Bahian musicians who complained he stole their tunes. In the face of constant accusations of plagiarism, Sinhô remained indignant, and quick-witted: "Samba é como passarinho. É de quem pegar" (Samba is like a little bird. It belongs to whoever catches it.)
(6) Talking of which, check out this video: www.youtube.com/watch - perhaps a nod to The King of Samba and his equivocal take on cultural appropriation.
Phew, well there you have it - football, faith, love, shopping, culture and a tiny pinch of cynicism on a sticky hot Sunday afternoon in Salvador, and I didn't even have to go outside. I wonder what time the telenovelas* start...
[* 'telenovelas' = soap operas]
Tessa Burwood for WorldMusic.co.uk