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Popular Music in the Making of Modern Brazil Essay

Bryan McCann’s book “Hello, Hello Brazil” colorfully discussed the fascinating world on the development of the Brazilian music industry, the customs and the traditions of the population and the political standing that has influenced the Brazilian culture as a whole. The rapid acceptance of the cultural and political changes that has taken Brazil by storm has turned this nation to become one of the admired Latin American countries with the advancement of their musical industry.

From the 1930s to the 1940s, the Brazilians have embarked on a cultural marketplace of recording and broadcasting that was influenced by Getulio Vargas, the politician from Rio Grande do Sul who was known for his dramatic and uneventful style of political agenda. In 1926, Getulio Vargas, a young congressman proposes that movie theaters and radio stations must grant royalties to the musicians for the recorded music they played. The “Getulio Vargas Law” suddenly became the congressman’s powerful means of endearing himself with the people of the music industry.

The Brazilians love music and anyone in his power who protect and pursue the industry will be adored by the people. From then on, the music became livelier and the radio turned to be the most important tool for commercial broadcasting. Suddenly the seemingly boring stage of Brazil’s entertainment industry is teeming with composers, producers, music lovers and even politicians who ride up the wave for political purposes. But since there was a disparity between Minas and Sao Paolo, the two opposing regions with different roots and culture, music was used to unify differences over racial and regional gap.

But as McCann discovers the living culture and the progress of Brazil into becoming a developing nation he also took a keen observation on the form of government ran by Getulio Vargas. From 1930 to 1954, the presidency has been advocated on and off by Getulio Vargas for which as some historians say has created a chain of uneventful events not only in Brazil but to the international scene as well. McCann relevantly categorized Getulio Vargas as the president with an unfamiliar way of rules not only in the world of politics but his way of influencing people as well.

Vargas was loved by his nation not only because he has made Brazil the musical symbol of Latin America but he also imbibed a great authority on the country’s political and economic standard. He adopted and introduced different social, cultural and technological alternatives that were categorically from Western influence but this method, however, became unpopular especially to the socialist groups. Vargas became known for his goal in unifying Brazil to heal the long-standing class and regional differences between Sao Paolo and Minas.

He tried to reconstruct Brazil’s political theme by removing regionalism and inject nationalism but his objectives have became so large that he ruled out the differences of ethnicity and class and at the same time introduced American influence into the culture starting with the music. However as the music progresses, Brazilian musicians and fans started to justify their musical preference with political color. This innovation has affected the purity of music into the realm of opinionated culture and nevertheless turned the foundation of music again into a tool of political segregation.

And so the Brazilian and American influenced music industry although has founded solid grounds during the 1930s to 1940s has suddenly became fragmented in the 1950s (Bryann McCann). Getulio Vargas was born at Rio Grande do Sul in 1883. His family belongs to a wealthy clan who are politically strong which gave him the interest and advantage to assume a political career in his younger years. He became a congressman in 1926 through the Legislature in Rio de Janeiro and then appointed by President Washington Pereira as the Finance Minister of Brazil.

Vargas has served his appointment well but in 1928 he decided to run for governorship against the political party of Pereira and incidentally won. After two years of being a governor, Vargas was selected by the party Alianca Liberal (Liberal Alliance) to run for president. But Pereira who is still the current president does not want to release his position to another party represented by a politician from the state of Minas. The “Golden Rule of Brazilian Politics” during that period is that it is required that there will be alternating president from among the state of Sao Paulo and the state of Minas.

Since Pereira is from Sao Paulo, he quickly appointed Julio Prestes to be the upcoming president and asked the support of the people from Sao Paulo. This instigates a rebellion starting from the Southern Brazil but incidentally Prestes still won the presidency. Vargas publicly stated that he accepted his fate but then he clandestinely plotted to topple the administration of Prestes. A coup ensued and in three weeks, Getulio Vargas became by force the Provisional President of Brazil in 1930. Vargas’ ideals were of a capitalist and a corporatist and hates socialism.

He focused on solidifying the powers of the federal government rather than providing strength and protection for the local and state government. Even in his first term in his office Vargas introduced a new constitution and people see it as a manipulation of the constitution to strengthen his hold. This is his means in achieving a long term project to turn Brazil into a strong nation with a strong economy much like the Western nation he is very fond of. When the people began to feel uncomfortable with his administration Vargas felt he has to do something to continue his ruling and prove himself again otherwise.

When his original term was due to end in 1937, he staged another coup at the very last minute and declared that he is placing a new economic system – the “Estado Novo” or the New State. The Estado Novo was a corporatist state based on the same principles used by Antonio Salazar of Portugal. This new state allowed for Vargas to become President again because basically Estado Novo is founded by the support from large labor sectors in the government. He again snatched another term that will serve him until 1943.

However, as 1943 came around he stated that, due to the crisis situation brought about by the eruption of World War II, he would remain in office and that a new election would be held as soon as the war ended. He made a similar announcement in 1944 in the middle of the war. When the war ended, however, it seemed he had no option but to allow for elections to continue. Brazilian election laws of that time required any government official to resign one year prior to elections if they wished to be eligible for the following elections.

But Vargas did not want to resign nor showed any intention of doing so. During this period the people of Brazil want him out of the palace and branded him as a dictator. The military became upset and tell him he needs to resign because he is not eligible to run. Vargas was outraged and said if they wanted him to be out of the presidential palace then they have to remove him physically but assured the military he would fight them with his own men. The military officials want no bloodshed and so their only option was to cut off of the electricity and the water supply to force him out.

Although he challenged them to attack so that, as he said, his blood would symbolize his protest against the violence they are imposing on him the military did not hurt him. Finally he left the palace with a belief that he has served his country well. But Vargas has a heart of concrete determination and the appetite for power. In his years of being out of the palace he became a senator and a congressman thanks to his political party who is always in support for his candidacy.

He became the Senator for the state of Rio Grande do Sul but although he is still active as a politician for four years he said he prefers being a private person. Then suddenly Vargas re-emerged as a member of the Brazilian Labor party which encouraged him to run for president again. In 1951, Vargas re-assumed his third term as the President of Brazil. However, the Brazilian economy was in shambles and there is an increasing opposition against his ruling. The country’s inflation cannot able to cope up with the cost of living which made Vargas powerless in the middle of this crisis.

His health began to fade and attacks of depression and insomnia became frequent. The worst thing, however, was that the United States which he thought was his ally have became less concerned with Brazil and do not want to fulfill its promise of economic assistance. His ever increasing critics became more direct in hitting his administration until his chief bodyguard was implicated in an attempted killing of Vargas’s infamous critics. Corruptions of his government were exposed and the military leaders again called for his resignation but he did not resign.

On the morning of August 24, 1954, a large crowd gathered in his palace shouting for his resignation. Then the military officials gave him an ultimatum of forcing him out. Pressured and officiated as the great dictator he went to his room, sat down and wrote a note to his people and then committed suicide. He wrote all his frustrations against those who criticize him – the military and the opposition who continued to ask for his blood. He said they have insulted him and was not given the right to defend himself and has silenced his voice.

He listed all the accomplishments he had done for Brazil such as liberating the people by means of social freedom, revised the wages in favor of the poor, guided the economy to prevent the effect of economic meltdown, and bring peace to warring factions by means of unification of the two states. He dramatically ended his note and added that now that he was condemned, he has to leave the people defenseless from an institution he has always protected but now exploited. When the note was read on the radio and aired on television, the audience suddenly felt his frustrations and despair.

They began chanting his name and want him back. In the history of Brazil’s regime, Vargas became known by many to be the “Father of the Poor”. However, most people see him as an egomaniacal dictator. While he was seen as an idealist and a principled leader by captivating the hearts of the poor, his means in achieving a long lasting success for Brazil is nonetheless ostracized because of many shortcomings. First, he formed alliances with rich foreign countries in building a corporatist and a capitalist government so that he can control the economy and trash out socialism.

In effect this did not materialize but socialism succeeded after he died. Second, those who oppose and criticize his dictatorial administration were imprisoned to contain them. Lastly his greed for power is endless and invalidated the laws by creating selfish deeds against the government just to hold on to power. Getulio Vargas ruled Brazil for almost 20 years. Unfortunately, most people claimed that his dictatorial leadership virtually destroyed Brazil’s constitutional government because of his greed for power and corruption.

His means on making Brazil a great country was not successful for he has manipulated not only the constitution but fooled the people by denying them their own sovereign power to vote the person they want. Once in power he became an authoritarian and a corporatist which somehow destroyed the state controlled labor sectors. But as McCann said Vargas has at least earned a reputation of a good leader by those who he handed help. This is the part when he was successful with his leadership.

In his long years of leadership, he once hailed a hero by the people of Brazil, Vargas became successful in some aspects for he has instituted social programs for the poor and created a bill that would allow women to vote. He gave freedom to women and encouraged them to become part of the labor forces of Brazil. He revitalized the military and for a time he enlivened the economy while improving the relationship of Brazil to other countries. Although many observers say Vargas was more prominent on the national than the local level, his relationship with the Western world signifies his intention in turning Brazil into an industrialized nation.

Unfortunately his dreams did not completely materialize until he took his own life thinking he was a good president and had served his people well (Bryan McCann). Works Cited: McCann, Bryan. Hello, Hello Brazil: Popular Music in the Making of Modern Brazil Duke University Press, 2004. McCann, Bryann. “Hello, Hello Brazil: Popular Music in the Making of Modern Brazil. ” Estudios Interdisciplinarios de AmA©rica Latina y el Caribe (2004). August 4, 2009 <http://www1. tau. ac. il/eial/index2. php? option=com_content&do_pdf=1&id=100>.


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