No Political Punch Lines for Brazil?

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When Brazil’s political candidates stump with nicknames like “King of the Cuckolds,” “DJ Saddam,” “Jorge Bushi,” and “Kung Fu Fatty,” it seems a special kind of torture to say you can’t publically ridicule them.

Unfortunately, a decades-old law bans political satire on Brazilian TV and radio in the three months before the country’s October 3 elections: “Trickery montages” and other such “features of audio or video” are punishable by up to $112,000 in fines and the suspension of a show’s broadcast license. Supporters of the law say it keeps politicians from being portrayed unfairly. Everyone else calls it a relic of the country’s dictatorship era and a “threat to the intelligence of the Brazilian people.” Or, as Brazilian TV comedian Marcelo Tas puts it, the law is “a very particular Brazilian type of madness.”  

Similar criticisms occasionally surface about the role of humor in US elections.  In 2008, some worried about the “Tina Fey effect” on Sarah Palin’s reputation. Fey, in turn, wondered if Will Ferrell’s charming, bumbling caricature of George W. Bush came off as a little too likable to voters. 

Whatever the case, the last 10 years may have been too much to bear without a daily dose of Colbert or Stewart, particularly during election seasons. Hopefully, the protest that Brazilian comedians and satirists have planned for Sunday has some effect. Or at least it will generate some hilarious signs. 

Here’s a few great moments in political humor to wish them luck:  

1) “2000 Presidential Debates,” SNL 

2) “Sarah Palin and Katie Couric,” SNL

3) “Barack Obama: He Completes Us,” The Daily Show

4) “Governor Alert – The Search for Mark Sanford,” The Colbert Report

5) “Fool Me Once,” a trickery montage of Bushisms  

 

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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