Brazil: Much More Than Samba, Rio and Football

There are three words I hear a lot when I mention I am Brazilian – Samba, Rio and Football. I understand that those are the main reasons why we’re known abroad but it also makes me a bit sad when in every conversation I have I must explain that there’s much more to Brazil than half-naked girls and football. And a couple of other things while we’re at it – no, we don’t speak Spanish and we definitely don’t live in the jungle. So here are some nice and interesting facts about Brazil you might like to know:

Yes, samba is a Brazilian music but we don’t listen to it all the time. There are also some great Brazilian singers and bands playing other rhythms, such as pop rock and MPB (popular Brazilian music). Skank, Titãs and Paralamas do Sucesso are very good and successful pop rock bands (you can check some of their videos by clicking on their names at the end of the article). There are numerous great MPB singers. One of them is Caetano Veloso, an amazing songwriter and singer who took part in the musical movement Tropicalismo at the beginning of the Brazilian military dictatorship. Elis Regina, Marisa Monte and Daniela Mercury are some female representatives of our music. We also have Bossa nova, a style of music popularized worldwide by João Gilberto,Tom Jobim and Vinícius de Moraes with The Girl from Ipanema.

We Brazilians also love watching TV. Soap operas are made Hollywood-style and usually last for 8 months. There are three of them on the main TV channel: at 6p.m, at 7 pm and at 9pm. The last one is prime time. It’s very common to listen to people talking about Cláudia and Eduardo’s life, what they should do about their marriage and kids and then realize they are actually talking about the soap opera’s main characters!

We are nice, friendly and are very tactile. If you’re talking to a Brazilian they will probably touch you on the arm or pat you on the back, but it doesn’t mean anything – we do it without even noticing. That’s something I missed a lot in my first months living abroad: human warmth and hugs. If you are a foreigner in Brazil people will try to talk to you even if they don’t speak English or your native language. They will try everything from sign language to speaking at you very loudly in Portuguese to try and communicate with you. Again, this is completely normal – Brazilians just love to talk and get to know people.

Carnival was last month and here’s another important fact for you. We love the party and especially the holiday but that doesn’t mean we all appreciate half-naked women dancing and showing more than they should at the parades. It also doesn’t mean we all dress like that and go topless on the beach. And, most of all, it definitely doesn’t mean we are easy, slutty girls. As in most Latin cultures we greet each another with kisses on the cheek, but it’s only a way of being friendly.

I have a friend that says she’s from Portugal just to avoid those “you’re Brazilian so it means you’re easy (not to say a slut)” kind of look. I’ve tried to say that but I can’t. I agree that some girls don’t give themselves self respect, but that’s not exclusive to my country. There are about 190 million Brazilians and more than half of the population are women, so please don’t generalize. Even with so many things needing to be improved in Brazil I love my country and I am proud of it. This is why I am honest about being Brazilian and use my “don’t you dare look at me or treat me like a slut” look whenever I need to.

Skank – Balada do Amor Inabalável
Caetano Veloso – Cajuína
Paralamas do Sucesso- Meu Erro
Elis Regina – Águas de Março
Marisa Monte- Não vá embora


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7 thoughts on “Brazil: Much More Than Samba, Rio and Football”

  1. Excellent post! There is so much to Brazil that it boggles the mind how people associate it with very narrow parts of the culture. I’ve written my own list of things I like about Brazil and there isn’t a mention of samba, football or Carnaval in it 😉 I also echo some of what you say about Brazilian women and the respect they deserve.
    I have to say that I really miss Brazilian warmth 🙁 Saudades de vocês!!!

  2. I agree there is much truth in your article, but i think u generalized foreigners a bit too, the most, really, almost all i got to know, asked about football, sure, and i like most brazilians love football, but they mostly knew at least as much about brazil as i know about their country, and their languages. After all many of us think sidney is the capital of australia, johannesburg is the capital of south africa and amsterdam is the important capital of netherlands. Most foreigners i got to know were very interested about brazil and didn`t have any prejudice, but that was just my experience, dont know about u guys.
    And gabriel, just because u dont like it, why cant we like it? i love it, after all, its the greatest show in the world…Just try to enjoy it..

  3. Priscila,

    Muito obrigada pelo post! I am fortunate to live in the San Francisco Bay Area (Calif.) where I have met amazing people who have lived in, or traveled to, Brazil. These folks love the Brazilian culture and enjoy a deep connection with their Brazilian friends. I constantly fall in love with Brazil all over again through the experience of my friends and students here.

    Brazil has a certain magic and despite all the economic and social problems, visitors tend to fall in love with the people, the culture, and the language.

    You are so right: Brazilians do not expect foreigners to understand Portuguese; they feel honored when a foreigner risks saying a few words in the language and they will praise people for their effort, even if it sounds awful. We Brazilians do not feel upset or mistreat tourists when they cannot speak our language. On the contrary, we will, as you mentioned, speak louder and slower in an extra effort to welcome the other into an attempted conversation. It is an illogical yet natural instinct.

    I firmly believe that Portuguese will become more and more popular as a second language. I already see a significant increase in the number of people looking for Portuguese lessons, both for personal and for business reasons.

    Portuguese is very beautiful and learning it opens the doors to experiencing the culture at a deeper level and seeing things that were not available to the foreign eye before.

  4. Thank you so much for this article, I’m brazilian too but I’ll write in english so that
    everybody can understand me. This is pretty much what I think, besides, I’m from south brazil
    so that’s another different side of this stereotype, but as all diversity brazil have, we’re part of it too,
    and I’m very proud of it. I used to think the world liked brazil and brazilian people in a respectful way,
    and i got very disapointed when I went to europe and saw how much they don’t respect us, especially
    woman, the way you describe fits perfectly: “you’re Brazilian so it means you’re easy (not to say a slut)” kind of look, not to mention we’re just a “third world country”. I agree that sometimes we all make the same mistakes by judging countries and people we don’t know much, but that’s a thing to improve, not to deny it or reinforce it like many people do. There are sluts like in every other place in the world.

  5. oiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii 😀

    Thank you for this article, it is very useful. Please keep up the good information!

    I am learning Portuguese, I intend to live in Rio one day. IT WILL HAPPEN.

    I have known/know Brasilians; yes, they tend to be very friendly. No one speaks bad of them!

    People here in England tend to go on the stereotypes, (maybe it’s just the people who I know) and that can get tedious; I come from Northern Ireland, and I always hear bad Irish jokes/stuff about terrorism. I just let it go, life is too short!

    (You get used to it, but why do some people seem to enjoy displaying their ignorance, like a badge? Ugh.)

    Brazil is in the news more, because the economy is on the rise. The inner city gang violence isn’t romantic, so animated films paint the picture, for now.

    Never mind the destruction of the Amazon rainforest.

    Oh well.

    I won’t complain.

    M U C H


    ^..^ )

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