Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Carnival float to have Holocaust theme

Jewish groups in Brazil have expressed disgust over a controversial float to appear in Brazil's upcoming carnival parade that depicts dead victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Carnival is getting ready to go full swing. I have to say, after watching the past few years, the floats, the costumes, the whole show makes the Rose Bowl parade seem like some mid-America high school marching band revue. The whole production is impressive. First, a quick explanation of how it works: There are various "schools" are part of a club, usually by neighborhood or areas of the city. Many times a certain school is from a club that also has a football/ soccer team, or there is a close connection between them. It varies from place to place in Brazil. They get graded on various aspects of the float, and it is extremely competitive. The floats usually have some sort of message or theme, they will tell a story, or depict a historical event, or series of events. Last year there was one depicting the "burning girl" (I know I can look up her name but I am pressed right now) from the Viet Nam era picture. They had her dressed in a skin colored suit, and dancers depicting the flames, really impressive. Well this year it seems there will be one depicting the Holocaust. Despite the "festive" atmosphere surrounding the event, I have usually found the most "critical" of floats to be done in a tasteful manner. Here is the crux of the argument:

'Tragedy in their skin'

Sergio Niskier, the president of the Israelite Federation of Rio de Janerio, said it was "inappropriate" to punctuate the festival atmosphere of carnival with a scene symbolising the systematic murder of 6 million people in Nazi concentration camps between 1938 and 1945.

"Really, it makes no sense to highlight this issue with drums and dancing girls when there are still survivors of that horror and many of their descendants who carry the mark of that tragedy in their skin," he told reporters.

Barros, however, said he informed the Jewish group of his plans months ago.

"They were anxious about putting this float in a carnival atmosphere," he admitted.

But, he predicted: "When the float goes by, people will feel respect."

A counterpart at the rival Grande Rio samba school, Roberto Szaniecki - himself of Polish Jew descent - disagreed.

"It's insensitive. The parade is going to be broadcast in Europe. I don't have grandparents because of the Holocaust," he told the newspaper O Dia.


Ms Calabaza said...

This is in such bad taste. What are people thinking?

Daniel @ Garanhuns said...

I dunno. Many of the floats have always had "social" commentary. They have had floats depicting the "street kid" murders, the police invasions of the slums, etc. The floats get designed by "artsy-fartsy" types that fancy themselves modern artists, so that may be part of the reason.