The death of the multi-artist Jô Soares came in a week when I am thinking a lot about the role of culture and the arts in this moment of transition that we are living.
Looking at Jô’s videos, from his most memorable interviews, you can see that he had the role that I think is the most difficult and most important to have in a society: that of “Court Jester”.

We almost always see the “Jester” as that silly character who wears big clothes, heavy makeup and does everything for a little cuteness. But I like to think that his role is actually much bigger. The role of a “Jester” is to be the only person who can speak the truth to a king or queen without getting killed for it.

By talking with laughter, he externalizes the feelings of an entire realm, often without the person being criticized realizing it. And even more, she laughs at her own misfortune.

Jô had this swing of making Brazil laugh at its greatest ills. This with his interviews with celebrities, politicians and the anonymous, with his plays and books and often without making us realize that we were laughing at something very tragic, like when he did his comedy shows and already put characters in prime time who opened up a side harmful aspects of our society such as homophobia, machismo and fatphobia.

And in doing so, we laughed with him at ourselves.

Today, with the end of the world knocking at our door, we are in a time when it seems that there is no longer a place and climate to have such laughs. The world turned serious and dark. Just when we needed someone to turn on a little light to show that there are different paths we can follow. And that we can keep smiling on them.

That’s why culture is such a subversive thing. That it generates an identification of us with our surroundings and makes us live and think about things that perhaps we would never do in our daily lives.

A great example of this is that in the country that kills the most LGBTQIA + community in the world, we have as box office champions in history, the films of the “My Mother is a Piece” franchise. Especially the third and final film in the franchise, in which the character of Dona Hermínia, made by the late Paulo Gustavo, has to deal with her daughter’s pregnancy and her gay son’s marriage.

More than 9 million people went to the movies, in a country that historically hates gays, to laugh and be moved by a gay actor dressed in drag marrying his gay son to another man. So how many families who have never had this conversation with their children have been able to rethink their positions when they leave the movie theater and see that it’s okay to have gay sons and even pregnant daughters outside of a traditional marriage.

It is because of all this that culture is almost always one of the first social casualties of governments that flirt with authoritarianism. Because she makes you feel, think and live different things. And if there’s one thing that a dictator – or president of the republic who thinks he can become one – hates, it’s that someone might think differently than he does.

That’s why Jô was important. Paulo Gustavo was important. That people like Paulo Vieira, Fábio Porchat, Lázaro Ramos, Ícaro Silva, Tata Werneck, Ingrid Guimarães and several other people who are making us see a different Brazil, are important.

And that’s why, whatever happens in October, we have to fight for a strong Brazilian culture, because only then can we smile again and enjoy the great idea of ​​being Brazilian.

And I close this column with a public thanks to Jô Soares. When I was 18 years old, I thought I was already a filmmaker and I decided to make my first feature film with friends from the FAAP film school in São Paulo. In the film, there was a time when the main character – masterfully played by the late Olair Coan – goes to the theater. I wanted to shoot a play to put in the movie and we didn’t have the resources to put one together.

It was there that Jô directed a production of Richard III, by Shakespeare, in the theater of my college with a global cast that had Marco Ricca and Glória Menezes, and we went there with all the courage to ask for permission to record the play for put in our movie.

Jô not only released it, but also had a great chat with me and gave me that little push I needed. And maybe one of the reasons I’m telling stories here today is that one of my artistic references was kind to me and said the right thing when I needed it most. I finished the movie and today, when I learned of his death, I saw the scenes from the play and by far it’s the best thing I’ve ever filmed. But because who did it was Jô.

Thanks for everything, Jo. People are already there.
Until then, let’s continue here doing what you’ve always done, show Brazil that you can smile.
A fat’s Kiss.

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