For the second week in a row (yes, really) Fox Sports Brasil is in hot water over a comedian’s decision to don blackface to poke fun at local soccer personalities. Rudy Landucci made a name for himself with his impersonations in the radio program Estádio 97. Lately, he’s been transferring those humorous takes on that country’s most beloved sports figures to live television. Last week, wearing darkened make-up, a painted-on beard and some bling, he came out as Neymar, the famous 26 year-old soccer player. The moment, which was greeted by laughter and merriment by the hosts of the show — and which Landucci has gleefully shared on social media — was but a taste of the kind of comedy he’d bring this week to Brazilian TV.
Where his mockery of Neymar as a happy-go-lucky player whose outsized smile makes him a walking caricature, his take on Roger Machado seemed to cross a line. Dressed in full Palmeiras regalia (the team Machado manages), Landucci’s blackface impression felt even more offensive given that a black soccer player was another guest on the show. Hosts and fans of Landucci’s have already began brushing off the controversy by appealing to that facile excuse: it’s just comedy! They forget or choose to ignore, perhaps, the racial and racist undertones that blackface comedy has always carried — yes, even in Latin America, where the practice is more prevalent than you’d think. Often used to denigrate Afro-descendant populations throughout the continent, highlighting cartoonish aspects of their appearance and demeanor, blackface impersonations cannot help but invoke the systemic racism that allow them to happen. It perhaps bears repeating that Brazil is the country with the second biggest Black population in the world, and continues to grapple with its own history of African enslavement.
Considering the clip remains up on the official Fox Sports Brasil Twitter account (they think it’s hilarious, naturally) and that the show’s hosts have already pushed back against any talk of racism (“Racism? What are you drinking?” asked Benjamin Back), it’s unlikely Landucci will feel the need to stop touting out these tired bits. Which should make us all sigh in frustration that it is 2018 and we’re still having to break down why privileged light-skinned Latin Americans donning blackface is still problematic.
[h/t: BuzzFeed Brasil]