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Music genres, conservatism and nationalism: soundtracks of the call for political acts in defense of the Brazilian presidency

Abstract

The paper aims to investigate the appropriations of different musical genres by militants of the Brazilian radical right. To this end, we analyzed videos calling for popular demonstrations on March 15, 2020. We propose two sets of discussions: 1) the role of musical genres as social constructions whose affective relationships constitute experiences and 2) disputes over the concept of culture popular articulating expensive debates to Cultural Studies to discussions about distinction and cultural capital by Bourdieu (2007). It is concluded that rock and classical music have been used to build the political narratives of these political groups, in appropriations that materialize feelings associated with nationalism and conservatism.

Keywords
communication and music; policy; musical genres; affect; conservatism

Resumo

O trabalho tem como objetivo investigar as apropriações de diferentes gêneros musicais por militantes da direita radical brasileira. Para isso, analisamos vídeos de convocação para as manifestações populares de 15 de março de 2020. Propomos dois conjuntos de discussões: 1) o papel dos gêneros musicais enquanto construções sociais cujas relações afetivas constituem experiências e 2) disputas ocorridas em torno do conceito de cultura popular articulando debates caros aos Estudos Culturais às discussões sobre distinção e capital cultural de Bourdieu (2007). Conclui-se que rock e música clássica têm sido utilizados para construir as narrativas políticas destes grupamentos políticos, em apropriações que materializam sentimentos associados ao nacionalismo e ao conservadorismo.

Palavras-chave
comunicação e música; política; gêneros musicais; afetos; conservadorismo

Resumen

El trabajo tiene como objetivo investigar las apropiaciones de diferentes géneros musicales por parte de militantes de la derecha radical brasileña. Para ello, analizamos videos que convocan a manifestaciones populares el 15 de marzo de 2020. Proponemos dos conjuntos de discusiones: 1) el papel de los géneros musicales como construcciones sociales cuyas relaciones afectivas constituyen experiencias y 2) disputas sobre el concepto de cultura popular articulando costosos debates de Estudios Culturales a discusiones sobre distinción y capital cultural de Bourdieu (2007). Se concluye que el rock y la música clásica se han utilizado para construir las narrativas políticas de estos grupos políticos, en apropiaciones que materializan sentimientos asociados al nacionalismo y al conservadurismo.

Palabras clave
comunicación y música; política; géneros musicales; afectos; conservatismo

Introduction

The present study starts from the calls that preceded the political demonstrations of March 15, 2020 in Brazil to analyze the role of music in audiovisual narratives for collective call. It is argued that such choices are not innocent or casual, but seek to appropriate of certain senses and affections linked to different genres, thus contributing to strengthen a specific nationalism feeling, characteristic of recent political movements in the country. So, the paper aims at understanding which musical genres are being appropriated by the Brazilian extreme-right politics today and discuss the effects of these appropriations. For this purpose, two sets of discussions are proposed: 1) the role of musical genres as social constructions whose affective relationships constitute experiences and 2) disputes occurred around the concept of popular culture, articulating debates that are important to Cultural Studies and discussions on Bourdieu (2007)BOURDIEU, P. A distinção: crítica social do julgamento. São Paulo: Edusp, 2007. distinction and cultural capital.

In the light of these discussions, five videos are analyzed that circulated on YouTube from February to March 2020 with messages calling to demonstrations. The productions were selected according to intensity subtype intentional sampling criteria (FRAGOSO; RECUERO; AMARAL, 2011FRAGOSO, S.; RECUERO, R.; AMARAL, A. Métodos de pesquisa para internet. Porto Alegre: Sulina, v. 1, 2011.), with verification of the sound track relevance, that is, the striking presence of music in the narratives presented. In this stage, in addition to identifying the genres used, we sought to understand how music is integrated to the narratives proposed in order to “materialize” the yearnings of their creators. Based on Street (2001)STREET, J. Rock, pop and politics. In: FRITH, S.; STRAW, W.; STREET, J. (Eds.). The Cambridge companion to pop and rock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001., such undertaking does not aim at classifying music as expression of a particular historical moment, but rather discuss its role in the articulation of certain experiences. While specifically observing such problem based on musical genres and the affective relationships that they create, we bet that such investigation lens may bring contributions to consider the political narratives’ disputes that are being enacted over the last years.

Musical genres, social constructions and symbolic disputes

In order to investigate agencying involving different musical genres and political contexts, we assumed that music can be understood as “a form of thought and action in the world” (BLACKING, 1995BLACKING, J. How musical is man? Seatle: University of Washington Press, 5a. ed., [1973] 1995., p. 235), a manifestation that organizes global and individual perceptions and that “can tell us things about History that are not accessible by any other means” (McCLARY, 1991McCLARY, S. Feminine Endings. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1991., p. 29). Even though this prerogative is not foreign to other cultural forms – ultimately, they all carry the power to reflect their own time – the emphasis in music is intended to reflect on its particularities and how these particularities affect the articulation of certain subjectivities.

At first sight, the idea that music can reveal what is inaccessible may seem somewhat hermetic. In its interface with communication, such undertaking proves to be challenging, chiefly when there is no lyrics, or a clearly demarcated “discourse” to be observed by the analyst. Moreover, as reminds Fischerman (2004, p. 22)FISCHERMAN, D. Efecto Beethoven: Complejidad y valor em la música de tradición popular. Buenos Aires: Paidós, 2004., different groups or individuals “listen to absolutely distinct things where the object listened is the same”. That is, the articulations that surround activities associated to music must be contextualized or designed (HALL, 2003HALL, S. Pensando a Diáspora (Reflexões Sobre a Terra no Exterior). In: SOVIK, L. (Org.) Da Diáspora: Identidades e Mediações Culturais, Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG; Brasília: Representação da Unesco no Brasil, 2003.), since one same song may gain different meanings according to the person who listens to it. For Denora (2003)DENORA, T. After Adorno: Rethinking Music Sociology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003., these differences can be explained by multiple dimensions of social agencying where music is inserted. With similar reasoning, McClary (1991)McCLARY, S. Feminine Endings. Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 1991. argues that all judgments around artistic expressions that fit in music category – be them classified as good, bad, elite, popular, commercial or artistic – are products of the society and, in parallel, produce social effects.

Here, the bet is on the musical genre as a useful path to understand the social meanings that produce and are produced by music. In a seminal work on the theme, Frith (1998)FRITH, S. Performing Rites. On the value of Popular Music. Cambridge: Harvard Univ, Press, 1998. defends that expectations and conventions assigned to genres are fundamental to guide choices according to the musical scenario. Such conventions, points out Janotti Jr. (2005)JANOTTI JR, J. Dos gêneros textuais, dos discursos e das canções: uma proposta análise da música popular massiva a partir da noção de gênero midiático. In: XIV ENCONTRO ANUAL DA COMPÓS. Niterói, 1 jun. 2005. Anais...., are fruits of a permanent process of negotiation and dispute around the definition of genres. Thus, they are crucial to support values that “delimitate the productions of meaning, demarcating the signification and ideological aspects of the texts, as well as the commercial reach (and target public) of media products” (JANOTTI JR., 2005JANOTTI JR, J. Dos gêneros textuais, dos discursos e das canções: uma proposta análise da música popular massiva a partir da noção de gênero midiático. In: XIV ENCONTRO ANUAL DA COMPÓS. Niterói, 1 jun. 2005. Anais...., p. 5).

Like communication, understood by Martín-Barbero (1987)MARTÍN-BARBERO, J. De los medios a las mediaciones: comunicación, cultura y hegemonia. México: Gustavo Gilli, 1987. as a social practice that materializes the daily life culture amid processes of emission and reception, music can be understood as an important agent in the production and reproduction of cultures and identities. So, it configures affective territories which, in their turn, can integrate specific discursive practices, strategies and initiatives associated to the continuous re-elaboration of identities (HALL, 2003HALL, S. Pensando a Diáspora (Reflexões Sobre a Terra no Exterior). In: SOVIK, L. (Org.) Da Diáspora: Identidades e Mediações Culturais, Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG; Brasília: Representação da Unesco no Brasil, 2003.). On the other hand, and seeking to avoid essentialist views with regard to the role of identities – which, as reminds Hall (2003)HALL, S. Pensando a Diáspora (Reflexões Sobre a Terra no Exterior). In: SOVIK, L. (Org.) Da Diáspora: Identidades e Mediações Culturais, Belo Horizonte: Editora UFMG; Brasília: Representação da Unesco no Brasil, 2003., are part of a construction that is more complex than questions like “who are we” or “where did we come from” – it is interested in discussing how musical genres are articulated to political movements, as it has occurred in different historical periods in Brazil. Therefore, it is focused on the need to understand how such genres are mobilized in the disputes of meaning around issues like national identity and patriotism.

In order to deepen this discussion, it is worth mentioning the relevance of cultural apparatuses in the constitution of affective bonds, since they produce specific engagement modes (GROSSBERG, 1997GROSSBERG, L. Dancing in Spite of Myself: essays on popular culture. Durham/Londres: Duke University Press, 1997.). If reflecting on affection, as suggested by Seigworth e Gregg (2010)SEIGWORTH, G.; GREGG, M. An inventory of shimmers. In: GREGG, M.; SEIGWORTH, G. (Eds.). The affect theory reader. Londres: Duke University Press, 2010., is to dwell on importance maps, that is, what matter to certain people in given moments, it is possible to think about music as a privileged vehicle for elaboration of different experiences, including political ones. Placing the debate closer to our research object, despite the dynamic character of constitution of musical genres, there is a certain stability (though in constant negotiation) with regard to issues like forms of listening and characteristics of each genre. The characteristic “circles” of punk rock and metal shows are not part of the codes for enjoyment of shows and samba circles, for example.

These practices produce different types of engagement and are prepared based on a cultural sharing. However, it is worth mentioning that such relationships are not prepared autonomously. Music, like other cultural expressions, is permanently subject to incorporations, co-optations and negotiations with hegemonic agents in certain contexts. Thus, when we talk about the political dimension of musical genres and the relation with the national identity, we must consider the influence of different forms of power (STREET, 2001STREET, J. Rock, pop and politics. In: FRITH, S.; STRAW, W.; STREET, J. (Eds.). The Cambridge companion to pop and rock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001.) over certain genres to the detriment of others, seeking to understand which subject positions are articulated in these movements (HALL, 1997HALL, S. A identidade cultural na pós-modernidade. Rio de Janeiro: DP&A, 1997.). Besides, we must also consider that this is a two-way process: on the one hand, governments and governors can benefit from previous meanings assigned to certain genres; on the other hand, the political action can contribute to create new significations, usually linked to government projects that prevail in certain historical periods. As reminds Woodward (2000)WOODWARD, K. Identidade e diferença: uma introdução teórica e conceitual. In: SILVA, T. Identidade e diferença: a perspectiva dos estudos culturais. Petrópolis: Vozes, p. 7-72, 2000., identities are built symbolically and socially, articulating imagined communities (ANDERSON, 2008ANDERSON, B. Comunidades imaginadas: reflexões sobre a origem e a difusão do nacionalismo. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, v. 8, 2008.) that emerge according to the specificities of certain historical periods. Since this identity construction is relational, that is, built from markings of difference, we can ask what types of national identities are available at each moment of history and which are those excluded from the symbolic characteristics that compose them.

Aligned to Hall (1997)HALL, S. A identidade cultural na pós-modernidade. Rio de Janeiro: DP&A, 1997., Woodward (2000)WOODWARD, K. Identidade e diferença: uma introdução teórica e conceitual. In: SILVA, T. Identidade e diferença: a perspectiva dos estudos culturais. Petrópolis: Vozes, p. 7-72, 2000. reminds that such constructions are susceptible to contradictions and disputes; so, identities must be negotiated within a group so that certain belongingness markings are accepted. Even when the mobilization of certain genres for preparation of political discourses is not enough to explain the public engagement, on can think that its activation in certain moments contributes to materialize certain sensitivities1 1 In this regard, it is worth reminding that the relation between extreme nationalist movements and musical genres, mainly rock, has been analyzed in other contexts, like extreme-right movements in Germany or disputes involving British conservatisms and North Ireland. For further information, see Brown (2004) and Martínez (2015). . In a moment with strong political polarization in Brazil, it is important to investigate the sounds used to represent political projects associated to the right and extreme-right politics.

Methodological procedures and object description

For the analysis proposed, searches on YouTube were made for videos connected to calls for acts on March 15, 2020. At first, the videos were manually filtered, those with sound track and those without sound track. After this stage, 30 productions were labeled. Two musical genres prevailed in 29 of the videos selected: rock and classical music – in some cases, accompanied with electronic music. Such classification of genres was prepared based on characteristic sonorities, like guitar chords that remind rock, and identification of songs known in given genres, as the case of instrumental pieces of “Il Guarany”. Based on this initial survey, a detailed analysis was made of five videos to understand meanings and affections mobilized by the genres used in the sound tracks. Criteria for this final selection were the music relevance in their narratives, confirmed by pieces where the sound track comes in the foreground, and not repetition across productions.

The first of them, named “Activist’s video calls to demonstration to support Bolsonaro on March 15”2 2 Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ohHAXJevMI. Accessed on: May 9, 2020. , can be considered one of the most relevant videos – or maybe the most important – in the movement that originated the demonstrations. On February 25, journalist Vera Magalhães revealed, on “BR Político” website, that this video was shared by President Jair Bolsonaro (MAGALHÃES, 2020MAGALHÃES, V. Bolsonaro manda vídeo por WhatsApp convocando para ato anti-Congresso. BR Político, 25 fev. 2020. Disponível em: https://cutt.ly/Gd9Yadd. Acesso: 25 jun. 2020.
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). The version analyzed was published by a communication vehicle, “Poder 360” channel, in its YouTube account.

After a flash of an eye with the national flag in close, the video starts with the sound of a guitar solo playing the national anthem in a very slow rhythm. The production contains images of protests that probably occurred in March 2015, since participants are presented with Brazilian national team green and yellow shirts, and posters with words like “Out Dilma” and “Coup plotters, CorruPT”, which characterized those demonstrations. Meanwhile, the following sentences appear on the screen, always in green and yellow: “Why wait for the future if we don’t take back our BRAZIL? What future do we expect to our children and grandchildren? ENOUGH! Brazil can only count on you! What can you do for BRAZIL? All power comes from the people. Let’s rescue our power”. In this moment, the sound speeds up, and the national anthem plays in a joyful rhythm, causing sensation of animation.

The text proceeds: “Let’s rescue BRAZIL. Together we are stronger”. Then, protest images are replaced by a montage with Jair Bolsonaro and the Brazilian flag, followed by a new image of protests, this time in Três Poderes square, in Brasília. “We are Capable YES. And we have a Christian, patriot, capable fair and incorruptible president”, states the text, while Bolsonaro appears by the side of his wife Michelle, creating the image of the “Traditional Brazilian Family”. Finally, images of the attack suffered by the then candidate in October 2018 appear, while the text reminds that Bolsonaro “suffers and fights for this nation”. The music reaches the climax in the end, raising some decibels while the text calls: “On March 15, show that you are a patriot, Love Brazil and defends President Bolsonaro. On March 15, all together in favor of Brazil”. The guitar solo of the national anthem remains for some seconds on the screen.

The second video, called “SHARE the motive for us to go to the streets on March 15 to support Bolsonaro Government”3 3 Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6zGEVneRdU. Accessed on: May 9, 2020. , starts with a piece of “Il Guarany” opera, by Carlos Gomes, more specifically the one used in “A Voz do Brasil” program. As to the images, the production first part is marked by pieces of talks of anchor Maju Coutinho in Rede Globo journalistic programs. The screen is divided and shows the anchor side by side with images of Bolsonaro base congresspersons in videos that were apparently posted on their personal profiles. The congresspersons reaffirm that they would not accept agreements with the congress and the divided screen indicates a notion of “confrontation” to what Coutinho represents4 4 Coutinho, outstanding black professional in the area and hired by Rede Globo, was already victim of racism. The anchor presence in the video is not casual, but rather another statement against the black movement, identified as left “minority”. . Meanwhile, the sound tracks starts to present a pout-pourri of classical music that activate memories of epic movies like “Ben Hur”. At 2m09, scenes of past protests appear, always with highlight to the national flags present. During the whole production, the following sentences alternate on the screen, always in green and yellow: “March 15, 2020/ Brazil is Bolsonaro/March 15/Brazil on the streets”. Finally, Jair Bolsonaro montage appears next to the Brazilian flag. The sound track alternates moments of glorification and tension, as if announcing the occurrence of a “battle” to be faced by militants.

The third video, “March 15 – Demonstration across Brazil to support Bolsonaro government #DesculpeJairMasEuVou”5 5 Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZErQp7MX7Y. Accessed on: May 9, 2020. and, as the name indicates, it is intended to be a parody of Jornal Nacional program. The production brings several sections of reports with sound and image insertions, seeking to make fun of journalists, parties and institutions that criticize the president. The scenes are interrupted in some moments for a voice to call to demonstrations. The sound track is activated after 10 minutes of video, when a tense electronic instrumental music starts. On the screen, an excerpt from the Bible: “Woe to you, destroyer, you who have not been destroyed! Woe to you, betrayer, you who have not been betrayed! When you stop destroying, you will be destroyed; when you stop betraying, you will be betrayed” (Isaiah 33:1). Between 10m24s and 10m50s, the image is replaced by a Brazilian flag fluttering at the sound of the national anthem played in rock rhythm, accelerated, with highlight to the guitar sound. The words “March 15” appears on the screen, green and yellow. Next, the sound track is replaced by a voice “singing” Jornal Nacional sound track in a mocking tone. Images making fun of anchor William Bonner close the video.

The fourth production, “Those who haven’t yet confirmed their presence on March 15: “The Pope, the Xoice, Doria, CNBBdoB...”6 6 Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOEokctQZlo. Accessed on: May 9, 2020. follows a structure that is similar to the other videos mentioned. Pieces of TV Globo reports are shown and interrupted, this time for José Márcio, the channel owner, to criticize their contents, in addition to accusing the broadcaster of illicit enrichment during the governments led by Partido dos Trabalhadores (PT – Workers’ Party). The screen is divided so that the narrative seems to confront and discredit the journalistic material. At 4m17s, the video activates the sound track, once again using an instrumental piece of “Il Guarany” – however, different from the one in “A Voz do Brasil”. A photo starts to illustrate the video while the music sound is turned up. The image shows presidents Jair Bolsonaro and Donald Trump, from the United States, shaking hands in front of their respective flags. In green and yellow, the sentence “March 15 – The president is Bolsonaro” appears. The music, so far soft, rises to a loud tone, closing the video at 5m02.

Pro-Bolsonaro demonstrations’ sound track

The choice of genres that will form, along with cries of protest, ironic narratives and official recordings, the sound track of call in the digital environment does not occur at random, but seems designed to reinforce ideals like authenticity, bravery and differentiation with regard to those that would not leave home. Then, some interpretive keys are presented to understand the prevalence of rock, followed by classical music as prevailing sound track in the videos analyzed.

Appropriations of rock to defend notably conservative ideals and, simultaneously, to combat the “status quo”, allegedly represented by legislative and judiciary powers, illustrate the symbolic disputes around genre and its relation with politics. Associated to ideas of youthful rebellion, rock has also been object of discussions on music and conservatism, affirmation of “heteronormative, white and privileged values, particularly under the perspective of songs from the so called classical rock” (JANOTTI JR.; PILZ; ALBERTO, 2019JANOTTI JR, J.; PILZ, J.; ALBERTO, T. P. ““F** K YOU ROGER, PLAY THE SONGS”: rock, política e rasuras na turnê de Roger Waters no Brasil em 2018. In: XXVIII ENCONTRO ANUAL DA COMPÓS, Porto Alegre, 11 jun. 2019. Anais...., p. 2). The relation between rock and conservatism is not new and has been caused by authors like Grossberg (1992GROSSBERG, L. We Gotta Get out of this Place: popular conservatism and postmodern culture. Londres, Nova York: Routledge, 1992., 1997)GROSSBERG, L. Dancing in Spite of Myself: essays on popular culture. Durham/Londres: Duke University Press, 1997. for at least three decades. However, it seems significant to notice that, despite the works that highlight the genre potential for political articulation in more progressive fields, as highlight Farias and Cardoso Filho (2019)FARIAS, D.; CARDOSO FILHO, J. Rock no Rio Vermelho: afetos e territorialidades em Salvador. Revista ECO-Pós, v. 22, n. 3, p. 37-61, 2019. Disponível em: https://revistaecopos.eco.ufrj.br/eco_pos/article/view/27410. Acesso em: 15 maio 2020.
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, rock is systematically appropriated by the Brazilian extreme-right politics.

Historically associated to political demonstrations, based on notions like resistance and authenticity (FRITH, 1996FRITH, S. Performing Rites. On the value of Popular Music. Cambridge: Harvard Univ, Press, 1998.), rock became an important genre in the canon of protest songs in Brazil during the 1980s (ROCHEDO, 2011ROCHEDO, A. A. do C. “Os filhos da revolução”: A juventude urbana e o Rock Brasileiro dos anos 1980. Dissertação (Mestrado em História) – Universidade Federal Fluminense, Niterói, 2011, 152 f.). Three decades later, notorious names of that moment, like Lobão and Roger Flores, vocalist of Ultraje a Rigor band – whose song “Inútil” was one of the anthems in the “Diretas Já” movement7 7 The “Diretas Já” movement claimed direct presidential elections in Brazil for 1985. The lyrics of the song ‘Inútil’ mocked the population supposed incapacity to vote: “A gente não sabemos escolher presidente/ A gente não sabemos tomar conta da gente/ Inútil/ A gente somos inútil” (We don’t know how to choose our president / We don’t know how to take care of ourselves/ Useless/ We are useless). Lobão was declared Bolsonaro elector and supporter but broke with ‘bolsonarism’ later. , gained highlight on social networks for politically conservative positions. Meanwhile, outstanding digital influencers of the self-proclaimed new Brazilian right, like youtuber Nando Moura, also evidence their relation with the genre8 8 Pandora heavy metal band vocalist, Nando Moura often uses the genre codes like black clothes, guitars and sounds shown in videos published in his channel. .

Even where the rock ethos as resistance space is put at stake in some events, like shows marked by the confrontation between anti- and pro-bolsonarists (JANOTTI JR.; PILZ; ALBERTO, 2019JANOTTI JR, J. Dos gêneros textuais, dos discursos e das canções: uma proposta análise da música popular massiva a partir da noção de gênero midiático. In: XIV ENCONTRO ANUAL DA COMPÓS. Niterói, 1 jun. 2005. Anais....), such appropriations in the context analyzed seem to lead it to make explicit the ambiguities of the proposal: support the Executive power in its movements of disobedience against the other powers, with a tone similar to the one used by Bolsonaro in his election campaign. Along with the images, the genre emerges in the narratives analyzed evoking emotions present in large rock shows: crowds who live a moment of community ecstasy, driven by widely energetic and sexualized performances of their idols (PATTIE, 2007PATTIE, D. Rock music in performance. Nova York: Springer, 2007.). Guitar solos associated to Jair Bolsonaro and his defenders also activate values associated to what Frith and McRobbie (1990, p. 374)FRITH, S. Performing Rites. On the value of Popular Music. Cambridge: Harvard Univ, Press, 1998. call cock rock, where performance is “an explicit, crude and often aggressive expression of male sexuality”.

While describing rock as a “sound formation”, Grossberg emphasizes that both the rock identity and effects “are more comprehensive than its sound dimension” (GROSSBERG, 1997GROSSBERG, L. Dancing in Spite of Myself: essays on popular culture. Durham/Londres: Duke University Press, 1997., p. 104). For the author, the genre mediates a set of relations that will enable, among other disputes, the emergence of disputes in the political scenario. Likewise, Street (2001)STREET, J. Rock, pop and politics. In: FRITH, S.; STRAW, W.; STREET, J. (Eds.). The Cambridge companion to pop and rock. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001. highlights the music potential not only as something that represents, but also affects certain historical periods based on crossings between commercial, political, esthetic and institutional instances. According to Grossberg (1997)GROSSBERG, L. Dancing in Spite of Myself: essays on popular culture. Durham/Londres: Duke University Press, 1997., it is necessary to analyze how affection can be one dimension of access to what is popular, enabling to foresee a set of practices that confer meaning to daily life experiences. It is from this dialogic dimension involving affective relations and music that we understand the appearance of conservative values linked to a certain type of rock and also, though from other bias, the classical music present in the videos analyzed.

In addition to the presence of the Brazilian national anthem, the presence of pieces of Il Guarany by Antônio Carlos Gomes is also remarkable. Presented in December 1870 to celebrate Dom Pedro II birthday, the work aroused, since its premiere, comments on the nationalist character, due to two main factors: the Indianist and exotic theme associated to the Brazilian nationalist romanticism, a movement that “takes aspects of state policy sustained by the emperor himself” (SILVA, 2011SILVA, O. Il Guarany de Antônio Carlos Gomes: a história de uma ópera nacional. Dissertação (Mestrado em Música). Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, 2011, 188 f., p. 157) and the reception of the opera as a reflex of the progress in Brazilian arts during that period (SILVA, 2011SILVA, O. Il Guarany de Antônio Carlos Gomes: a história de uma ópera nacional. Dissertação (Mestrado em Música). Universidade Federal do Paraná, Curitiba, 2011, 188 f.).

Due to the social and political context of the time, “Il Guarany” was consolidated in popular imagination as symbol of a specific nationalism, characteristic of the period when it was launched. Such perception would be re-configured years later, during the 1930s, when the symphonic overture of the work started to be used as opening vignette for “A Hora Nacional” program, in 1935. In 1971, at the height of the military dictatorship, the program was re-named to “A Voz do Brasil”, as it is known today, and the opera piece was kept in its opening. The program lifespan contributed to make the melody even more known, “a kind of second national anthem of Brazil” (BASEIO; SILVA; SERGL, 2019BASEIO, M. A.; SILVA, L. A. P.; SERGL, M. J. A identidade nacional brasileira em o guarani: literatura e música em diálogo. Revista Brasileira de Literatura Comparada, v. 21, n. 36, p. 62-78, 2019. Disponível em: https://revista.abralic.org.br/index.php/revista/article/view/500/649. Acesso em: 10 jun. 2020.
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, p. 62).

It is worth mentioning that the insertion of such sound tracks in the narratives does not occur in fortuitous moments; their presence reinforces sensations of grandeur and urgency, often under direct association to Jair Bolsonaro image. While analyzing Bolsonaro election campaign on social networks Azevedo Junior and Bianco (2019)JUNIOR, A.; BIANCO, E. O processo de mitificação de Bolsonaro: Messias, presidente do Brasil. Revista ECO-Pós, v. 22, n. 2, p. 88-111, 2019. Disponível em: https://revistaecopos.eco.ufrj.br/eco_pos/article/view/5. Acesso em: 25 maio 2020.
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argue that his election was built from a mythic (and mystical) narrative that depicted him as savior of the nation, a hero that fights against evil values seeking redemption and restitution of the nation to a golden age” (AZEVEDO JUNIOR; BIANCO, 2019JUNIOR, A.; BIANCO, E. O processo de mitificação de Bolsonaro: Messias, presidente do Brasil. Revista ECO-Pós, v. 22, n. 2, p. 88-111, 2019. Disponível em: https://revistaecopos.eco.ufrj.br/eco_pos/article/view/5. Acesso em: 25 maio 2020.
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, p. 22). By combining slower musical movements when the president appears in prosaic scenes with his wife, for example, with more vigorous sounds reminding the episode when he was stabbed, the productions’ sound track strengthens the continuation of this discourse. If, for the authors, the “mythologized” political communication of Bolsonaro gained popularity on social media for being a point of intersection between social networks’ language and the spectacle grammar, typical of TV (AZEVEDO JUNIOR; BIANCO, 2019JUNIOR, A.; BIANCO, E. O processo de mitificação de Bolsonaro: Messias, presidente do Brasil. Revista ECO-Pós, v. 22, n. 2, p. 88-111, 2019. Disponível em: https://revistaecopos.eco.ufrj.br/eco_pos/article/view/5. Acesso em: 25 maio 2020.
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), his supporters’ videos seem to follow the same method. While simple watchwords appear on rough green and yellow backgrounds, the sound track evokes large rock spectacles and opera and epic movies, in a confluence of languages.

The presence produced in absences: cultural capital and conservatism

One second aspect that draws our attention is the distance of genres that are historically associated to popular and peripheral popular culture in Brazil. Along with population data on the profile of Jair Bolsonaro supporters, with strong presence of middle class and high middle class men (HOMEM..., 2019HOMEM, branco e conservador: o perfil do manifestante pró-Bolsonaro em SP. Exame, 27 maio 2019. Disponível em: https://cutt.ly/Eibnqei. Acesso em: 25 jun. 2020.
https://cutt.ly/Eibnqei...
), the survey indicates the role of the genres chosen in the preparation of distinction messages.

In this regard, we consider appropriate to rescue the discussion on cultural capital as proposed by Bourdieu (2007)BOURDIEU, P. A distinção: crítica social do julgamento. São Paulo: Edusp, 2007.. According to the French theorist, there are three forms of capital: economic, associated to material assets; social, associated to the network of interpersonal relations built by each individual; and cultural, associated to acquired knowledge (valued). Bourdieu (2007)BOURDIEU, P. A distinção: crítica social do julgamento. São Paulo: Edusp, 2007. also mentions the existence of the symbolic capital, a form of acknowledgement and prestige originated in the different forms of accumulated capital.

Culture classification of what fits and doesn’t fit as accumulated cultural capital is associated to the concept of habitus, defined by Bourdieu as “a system of long-lasting and transposable dispositions that, integrating all past experiences, works as a matrix of perceptions, appreciations and actions” (BOURDIEU, 1983BOURDIEU, P. O que falar quer dizer. In: BOURDIEU, P. Questões de sociologia. Rio de Janeiro: Marco Zero, 1983., p. 65). This principle is based on the idea of mediation across the perceptions of the world of each individual and their social conditions of existence. In this regard, the author states that the preference for “purer” art forms would be directly associated to the accumulation of cultural capital, since a legitimate culture “can obtain, in several opportunities, an extremely high symbolic yield and provide a large distinction benefit” (BOURDIEU, 2007BOURDIEU, P. A distinção: crítica social do julgamento. São Paulo: Edusp, 2007., p. 62).

In a country strongly marked by issues like racism and gender inequalities, the opposition between popular culture and erudite culture is not enough to include stigmatization and musical genres’ differentiation processes. However, it is worth reminding the identification by producers and consumers of genres like rock and heavy metal, as canons of classical music, different from genres like samba, axé or funk (HOLZBACH et al., 2015HOLZBACH, A.; SANTOS, M.; EVANGELISTA, S.; OLIVEIRA, T. Heavy Metal X Funk: disputas de gênero na cultura pop a partir do canal Mamilos Molengas. In: SÁ, S. P.; CARREIRO, R.; FERRAZ, R. (Org.). Cultura pop. 1a. ed. Salvador: EDUFBA, 2015. p. 131-150.). Besides, it is interesting to notice that, despite President Jair Bolsonaro proximity to several artists in the country music universe, who have made him homage after the 2018 election (GONÇALVES, 2018GONÇALVES, C. Cantores sertanejos homenageiam Bolsonaro em Brasília. Agência Brasil (EBC), 11 dez. 2018. Disponível em: https://cutt.ly/KibWZgf. Acesso em: 26 jun. 2020.
https://cutt.ly/KibWZgf...
), the genre is not mentioned in the material analyzed.

Such omissions are aligned to Martín-Barbero (2001)MARTÍN-BARBERO, J. De los medios a las mediaciones: comunicación, cultura y hegemonia. México: Gustavo Gilli, 1987. positions on the negative appreciation of demonstrations associated to popular culture. For the theorist, the idea of people that emerges with the advent of the capitalist society consolidates the creation of “cult” and “popular” categories. The second becomes synonymous with “uncultured”, giving name to “a specific mode of relation with the social totality: one of denial, reflex identity, constituted not by what it is but by what it misses (MARTÍN-BARBERO, 2001MARTÍN-BARBERO, J. De los medios a las mediaciones: comunicación, cultura y hegemonia. México: Gustavo Gilli, 1987., p. 25). The people, therefore, would be naturally devoid of culture, since it had no access to the education that the bourgeoisie purchasing power could pay. This conception would be fundamental to reinforce the logic of domination by wealthy social classes.

The sound track of calls to demonstrations activates a set of meanings related not just to the presence, but to the absence of other sounds as well. The non-utilization of more popular genres, chiefly those historically stigmatized for their peripheral origin, like samba and funk, corroborates the idea that the cause supporters dialogue with cultural forms that are closer to the notion of “cult” – which, in their turn, reminds notions of “progress” and “civilization” consolidated in the Enlightenment ideal (MARTÍN-BARBERO, 2001MARTÍN-BARBERO, J. De los medios a las mediaciones: comunicación, cultura y hegemonia. México: Gustavo Gilli, 1987.). It is important to emphasize the contemporary prominence of Brazilian artists linked to these genres in the preparation of different social criticisms, occupying the transgression place formerly dominated by rock9 9 With such statement, we did not disregard the existence of conservative names associated to the genres at issue. However, we draw attention to the visibility of progressive artists associated to peripheral genres in the media scenario, a phenomenon that is not repeated in rock or contemporary erudite music. .

In this regard, the choice of certain musical genres to the detriment of others also dialogues with important elements that integrate the imagery associated to conservatism and neo-conservatism, pillars of the bolsonarist militancy. While the first appeared in the 18th century based on the defense of traditional values and institutions, like monarchy and Christian religion, the second movement emerged after the Second World War. With regard to a supposed moral crisis caused by the abandonment of traditional values and the “natural” differences among individuals, the neo-conservatism defends the re-establishment of the “order” and the implantation of a minimal State (ALMEIDA, 2018ALMEIDA, S. Neoconservadorismo e Liberalismo. In: SOLANO, E. (Ed.). O ódio como política: a reinvenção das direitas no Brasil. São Paulo: Boitempo Editorial, 2018.).

This kind of nostalgia for behaviors and norms from less complex times (GROSSBERG, 2018GROSSBERG, L. Under the Cover of Chaos: Trump and the Battle for the American Right. Londres: Pluto Press, 2018.), where there was few or no discussion on topics like fluidity of genres or structural racism, is also reflected on the sound tracks of the videos selected. While the different rock sound can be associated to bands and sub-genres that were successful in the past, the presence of erudite music, mainly were associated to “Voz do Brasil”, reiterates conservative values, evoking, also, historical nationalist movements. Thus, in addition to an analysis separated from one or other musical genre, it is important to think how rock and classical music, in the context analyzed, jointly articulate the emergence of affections strongly linked to bolsonarist values.

Final considerations

The process of appropriation of musical genres in the creation of affective connections that can have political effects can be exemplified mainly in the guitar solo with pieces of the National Anthem, present since the bolsonarist political campaign; while international and national rock classics became known for mocking and questioning politics and the status quo, here there is a displacement of this energy to a particular idea of nationalism. Thus, one can say that the nostalgic resource works as a powerful affective marker for these articulations that gather sounds that, until recently, were distant from an ideal of restoration and distancing from peripheral genres.

Aligned with Grossberg, for whom affection defines “several organizations of intensity and feeling that provide texture and a sense of reality to our lives” (GROSSBERG, 2018GROSSBERG, L. Under the Cover of Chaos: Trump and the Battle for the American Right. Londres: Pluto Press, 2018., p. 91), it is possible to think about the connections mediated by musical genres as important elements for one’s own perception of reality. It is based on this organization – or the maps of importance, to remind Seigworth and Gregg – that certain genres can simultaneously materialize political disputes and give them conditions of existence (GROSSBERG, 1997GROSSBERG, L. Dancing in Spite of Myself: essays on popular culture. Durham/Londres: Duke University Press, 1997.). While questioning what sensitivities are activated from the music, articulated with certain images in videos to call to conservative political demonstrations, we sought to understand how music affects and is affected by recent policies in Brazil.

Obviously, the clipping used here is far from comprehending the relation across the whole spectrum of supporters of conservatism and certain musical genres. Among several examples, Dante Mantovani is outstanding. He was appointed to the position of director at the National Arts Foundation (Funarte) in 2019. In his YouTube channel, Mantovani stated that “rock activates drugs, which activate free sex, which activates the abortion industry, which activates Satanism. John Lennon himself said that he made a deal with the devil” (SOARES, 2019SOARES, I. Rock induz às drogas e ao satanismo, diz novo presidente da Funarte. Correio Braziliense., 02 dez. 2019. Disponível em: https://cutt.ly/myHJVCm. Acesso em: 10 maio 2020.
https://cutt.ly/myHJVCm...
, on-line). So, more than establishing any type of naturalized relation between musical genres and conservatism, it is important to think about such movements as part of an always unfinished process of disputes.

  • 1
    In this regard, it is worth reminding that the relation between extreme nationalist movements and musical genres, mainly rock, has been analyzed in other contexts, like extreme-right movements in Germany or disputes involving British conservatisms and North Ireland. For further information, see Brown (2004)BROWN, T. Subcultures, Pop Music and Politics: Skinheads and “Nazi Rock” in England and Germany. Journal of Social History, v. 38, n. 1, p. 157-178, 2004. and Martínez (2015)MARTÍNEZ, R. Punk Rock, Thatcher, and the Elsewhere of Northern Ireland: Rethinking the Politics of Popular Music. The Journal of the Midwest Modern Language Association, v. 48, n. 1, p. 193-219, 2015..
  • 2
    Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ohHAXJevMI. Accessed on: May 9, 2020.
  • 3
    Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6zGEVneRdU. Accessed on: May 9, 2020.
  • 4
    Coutinho, outstanding black professional in the area and hired by Rede Globo, was already victim of racism. The anchor presence in the video is not casual, but rather another statement against the black movement, identified as left “minority”.
  • 5
    Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jZErQp7MX7Y. Accessed on: May 9, 2020.
  • 6
    Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mOEokctQZlo. Accessed on: May 9, 2020.
  • 7
    The “Diretas Já” movement claimed direct presidential elections in Brazil for 1985. The lyrics of the song ‘Inútil’ mocked the population supposed incapacity to vote: “A gente não sabemos escolher presidente/ A gente não sabemos tomar conta da gente/ Inútil/ A gente somos inútil” (We don’t know how to choose our president / We don’t know how to take care of ourselves/ Useless/ We are useless). Lobão was declared Bolsonaro elector and supporter but broke with ‘bolsonarism’ later.
  • 8
    Pandora heavy metal band vocalist, Nando Moura often uses the genre codes like black clothes, guitars and sounds shown in videos published in his channel.
  • 9
    With such statement, we did not disregard the existence of conservative names associated to the genres at issue. However, we draw attention to the visibility of progressive artists associated to peripheral genres in the media scenario, a phenomenon that is not repeated in rock or contemporary erudite music.

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Publication Dates

  • Publication in this collection
    03 Sept 2021
  • Date of issue
    May-Aug 2021

History

  • Received
    13 Aug 2020
  • Accepted
    19 Feb 2021
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