In the last time that I talked about both our Carnival and the Academy Awards, I made a post for each, since one happened after the other. But this year, something interesting happened: both the first part of the Parade of the Samba Schools of Rio de Janeiro and the Academy Awards would take place in the same night, yesterday to this post, on 2nd of january. And as I wanted to visit the Marquês de Sapucaí - the world-famous lane where our event is set - to see the parade live for the first time, I opted, for the first time since "Million Dollars Baby", to flip the bird to the Oscar (sorry, Ellen) and to fullfil something I consider a cultural obligation of anyone who wants to be a carioca on a spiritual level: to visit the Marquês on a day of parade. Now, I could have pushed the parade for the next year, but I decided that I wanted to see it before I'm 25: honestly, it wasn't a hard choice. And I'm not regreted of it at all: it was like an
epiphany for me, and I realized this Academy Awards - like what I said of Rotten Tomatoes and Metacritic in my previous post - isn't necessary or relevant for me anymore.
As I said before here in DA, the motivation for which I would still watch the ceremony was due to, as Mr. Incredible once said, "sentimental reasons": for what the Oscar was to my childhood and my teenager years. But the good films that won Best Picture (and that lost it) are gone, and today, we have film after film after film that is made ONLY to become Oscar bait, and to be immediatly forgotten: "The Artist"; "Argo"; "The Hurt Locker"; "Chicago"; "A Beautiful Mind"... and now, joining such glorious team, "12 Years a Slave". Some of them are remembered by rabid fanboys who refuse to listen to reason, while others are remembered but not in the best of ways (the perennial blunders "Titanic" and "Crash")
. The last truly memorable Best Picture winner was "The Lord of The Rings - The Return of The King", and it wasn't even a full-flagged masterpiece like "Unforgiven" from the 90's or "The Last Emperor" from the 80's.
Here's the full recap of my last night: as I've been studying these days, I try to find a break to recoupe my cells. And as I saw my mid-20's arriving, I came to the realization I didn't want to reach it without having visited the Marquês at least once. The tickets were all sold-out, the only way to get one was through scalpers, and even then, they can't guarantee the tickets you want.
A scalper friend of mine got me a ticket for the first half of the Parade on Sunday night: the parade is divided into two nights, with six Samba Schools parading in each night; the first half happens in a sunday and the second half falls in a monday. In the ticket, it was written that the Carnival of Rio is "the Greatest Show on Earth" (how ironic that this post will be linked with the Academy Awards). While this may be a little boastful, the Parade is indeed one of the greatest entertainment events in the world, leading several foreigners - some of them crossing my path - to watch it from close. I got there by bus and metro: I shared the bus with a bunch of drunken assholes with their demented slam poetry about pot, sodomy and felatio. Not even the bus driver was spared from being mocked by their lyrics. Fortunatelly, they were reading for Ipanema, to one of the street blocks. Because of the number of people in the streets, I had to get off the bus earlier and to walk to the metro station. Boy, do the streets smell like urine in Carnival time. When I arrived at the metro entrance, I walked all the way down to the rails only to discover the tickets were only being sold outside. So I walked all the way back to the exit, coming across a girl taking a picture with a street-sweeper ('coz why the fuck not). I joined a line and I got right behind these two French brothers that were visiting their sister in Brazil and enjoying our Carnival: they were going to Santa Teresa, home of some of the most famous street blocks on town. I talked to them a lot (in English, of course) about how I wish I could speak French (I do), my own French cousins and the habitual chaos of our march celebrations.
While I and the French brothers separeted once we entered in the wagon, I remember I shared it with one of the members (or "components") of the schools, who got into the wagon fully costumed and with his props. At first, I taught he was just some guy from the street blocks, but I eventually saw his wing at the parade, with others dressed like him. In any other situation, getting into a public vehicle like that would be embarassing, but it wasn't as embarassing as me, f*cking things up in the simplest of tasks: I jumped off in the wrong station, and I had to wait for another tram to propely take me back to the Central Station (yes. That Central Station you saw in "Central Station". Only that its actual name is Central of Brazil). From there, I walked some more to the Marquês, and I saw the concentration of allegorical cars at a near street that were to parade.
At no moment, there was any indication that there would be any protests, and the carnival is an event some intellectuals like to stamp as the "opium of the people", a perfect opportunity to prostest-loving people to do their thing. But if you read international news recently, you might know about the murdered cameraman who got hit in the head by a firework rocket while covering one of these conflicts. This made the public opinion - once and for all - to turn against the violent protesters, who have disappeared (for the moment). The absence of these brawlers kept the carnival at its regular chaos, instead of out-of-hand chaos. Nevertheless, there were other things to get worried about, like getting robbed. So as I promissed, I made a call home declaring I got there safe and sound. But I warned them: "don't tell me the Oscar outcome!", as I put my cable equipment to record the ceremony in the day before.
I remember I got there like five minutes before the start. The ticket I got for sector 11 was good: it was close to the end, in front of the judges' cabin and next to where the drummers of the schools do their "park" (when they pull over to allow the rest of the parading members and allegorical cars to pass them). But
I had a difficulty to locate myself because apparently, no-one wants to watch to show seated down. People in front line - as if they hadn't a nice view already - want to watch the show standing by the balustrade. And that leads the people behind them to get up as well. And in a "reverse domino" effect, all the grandstand audience has to stand up, until the top seats. And srroy for the pun, but I can't stand to watch a show while standing up. I tried to go to the front lines, where people were leaning to the metal balustrade, to no avail. I tried to to to the upper seats, but even there, the guys want to stand up. While searching, I saw a man with the most outspokenly gay tights I have ever seem, and boy, he knew how to set them into samba motion. Was he gay? I don't know: that is, for many, the magic of carnival, as you can literally let that gay guy within go lose without regrets or judgement. Thankfully, I found a spot right above the entrance of the grandstand, right next to a big black guy who suffered from high pressure twice, vomited in a plastic bag, and had to be rescued by the fireman: I think the tights guy would enjoy being rescued by those.
The first of the schools was Imperio da Tijuca (not to be confused with the almighty Unidos da Tijuca), coming from the second division league. Their song was catch, and people continued to sing it even after they were done. To bad that they are going back to the second division this year: the judges always want to f*ck up the small schools, without tradition, and these second division ones end up being the cannon folder. Then, there was Grande Rio, one of the emerging schools of Rio, and they did what I taught to be the best parade of the night. Grande Rio is where Mr. Mutzenbecher works: he is the father of the Mutzenbecher brothers, who were my friends back at school (that is, the elementary school: let's not confuse things here). So after the carnivals, they would have several fun stories - and photos - to share in class. I told people back home that, If had to do something really crazy and ill-adviced like parading in Sapucaí, it would be for Grande Rio, since there, I would have a contact, an inside man: Mr. Mutz. Then, there was Mangueira: everyone's favorite school, including mine. Everyone in the grandstands waved their little Mangueira flags, even if the greatly traditional schoold did an okayish presentation. "Another year filling the board", I taught. Those guys lost their ambition. Nevertheless, they did had one of the most memorable moments of the night: one of the allegorical cars was too tall, and the hat of a giant doll hit the stand of the press, falling down a leaving the doll, as we say in "Team Fortress 2", poor and Irish. Right in front of the judges: that was failtacular. The entire crowd went bananas: it was perhaps the main moment of the night. Hats off to Mangueira!
To make matters more folkloric, a stray black dog invaded the empty lane in between presentations, to the frenzy of the crowd. At one point, one of the members of the parade come to our sector to watch the rest of the show, while still in costumes. But that was nothing: in the front sector, an entire plumed gang made their way through the seats. Just imagine it like this: you are watching a play on a theatre, and all the sudden, several of its cast members come sit right next to you once their part is done. As Nicolas Cage once said, "on any other day, that might seem strange". When Salgueiro finished its presentation, people in my sector celebrated in unison: "it's the champion!". This was when a drunk, blond, short and slightly obese guy started to provoke: "have you seem my Beija-Flor? Let's see if you'll still think like that when you see it!". And I kept wondering: are things like that happening in all the sectors or only mine? The first half of the events were over with the powerhouse Beija-Flor: the no-filler school that gets into every competition to win. Their theme was Boni, one of the icons of Rede Globo, which is the most powerful (and controversial) of Brazilian television stations, holding a serious grasp into this country, and it is the target of countless angry videos on YouTube. I felt they were picking a theme easy to be explored and even easier to be embraced by Globo, the sole transmitter of the event. To be honest, the school didn't set the crowd on fire (to the sadness of the blond guy), but they did look well on the lane: I just don't think they'll win this year (but given their subject and the power of Globo in our country, I wouldn't be so sure). The night after carries the second half of the parade, the six other schools, including the current champion Vila Isabel. But I'll watch them on the telly, for I had enough of gay tights, slam poetry of anal sex and urine for one year. The show ended a few hours from me typing this post. It ended with the daylight as usual, for the show goes on through all the night.
I can honestly say this night woke me up about how the Academy Awards Ceremony, as it is, has actually become unimportant to my life. After the show, I was so satisfied in having actually missed the Academy Awards - again, my epiphany - that when I arrived home, I just checked the results in Wikipedia without actually watching my recording: oh yes! The IMAX 3D 700 million dollars blockbuster would NEVER win over the independent 20 million dollars film appealing to white guilt, no matter what. Just the idea of actually having to watch that ceremony... blarg! I remember the antics of that "gala" show and now I think: "boy, what was I thinking?". Again, I would watch that ceremony in these last years as a way to keep a part of my younger years alive, a tradition. But now, it's like watching a dead magician with a dead rabbit in his top hat, rotting and stinking over a stage, when it should have be given a burial service already. Maybe back in my time, the Oscar was already like that: maybe my nostalgic feelings portrait the 90's and early 2000's better than they were. But when I compare movies, I realize this is no "maybe": that somewhere in the 2000's, Hollywood created a film genre for "Best Picture", while in the past, a film would win the award for its quality. Yes: mistakes were made, but at least the films weren't all Oscar-bait.
Say what you will about our Carnival: it stinks like piss, but it's less stinky than these Academy Awards.
Well, well, well! Looks like "Gravity" sure has its share of haters out there, and they're not few. I knew the movie was not great, alright... but when I got out of the movie theatre, I taught this was the classic movie everybody was going to love, and damn you if you didn't. And indeed: the greater majorities praised the film. But "Gravity" received a backlash, as several people accused the film of being "boring", some saying it was basicly a "screensaver", and nothing but an empty display of visuals. You want an "empty display of visuals"? Visit the Sapucaí next year. "Gravity" did touch on the theme of the relativism of human fragility: in the same way a human can die in the silliest of ways, one character lives through the harshest of challenges, without giving up on her life due to her will to live. I guess that makes "Gravity" the most taught-provoking screensaver I've ever seem. But my point is: maybe now they'll be the ones joining DeviantArt, making posts saying "I hate Gravity" and explaining why they believe its overrated, just like me with "Saving Private Ryan" and "Pan's Labyrinth".