Silence Behind the ‘Talk of Crime’: Representations of Violence in a Sample of Contemporary Brazilian Films and Television Series

  • Eli L Carter University of Virginia
Keywords Brazil, Film, Television, Violence, Race, Representation


Over the last twenty plus years numerous Brazilian film and television programs have constructed narratives of poverty and urban violence. In this article, I analyze the commercially inclined feature-length films, Cidade de Deus and Era uma vez… and the post-primetime television works, Cidade dos Homens and Subúrbia through the theory of the “talk of crime” as developed by Teresa Caldeira. I will argue that film and television narratives that focus on crime perpetuate the same kind of stereotypes and lack of ambiguity that Caldiera describes as occurring in narratives of actual violence. By examining these audiovisual productions as the fictional equivalents of the “talk of crime,” we can gain important, interrelated insights regarding the broader field of Brazilian audiovisual production: how and why Brazilian film and television both “talk of crime,” despite ultimately producing narratives that, each in their own way, remain silent with regard to underlying reasons behind the crime and violence of which they speak; and how, central to this silence is a one-dimensional depiction of  the favela-residing, black Brazilian man as inherently and fundamentally violent.

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