CXXXVIII (Re)leituras -- Carmen - Carmen Miranda, a vida da brasileira mais conhecida do Séc. XX, by Ruy Castro, comments by André Bandeira
She died young, such as Gloria Swanson, Marylin Monroe or Montgomery Clift. Some commentators I heard say that she stands as a symbol for the gay movement. She was not gay but she had a kind of repertory which allows the confusion and exasperation of categories, something quite advantageous for the advancement of their «revolution». That is secondary, anyway. Carmen has always been portuguese, not because she was born in Portugal, but also because she never applied for brazilian citizenship. That is one of the grounds for her to be attacked by so many journalists, both at he inception of her career, as at the end of it. She attracted very much the US public, because she portrayed the latin-american identity which was needed for the american people to stay away from european conceit. After all, «Latin» was the first blend of european with mediterranean and north-african, something that the US citizens of her time didn't manage with their own natives. Racism is always a dissimulation of attraction, notwithstanding a vicious and jealous exclusivity, able to reduce human kind to a pet. The americans needed to import a white woman, of catholic background, just to have a simulation of a latin component among them. Carmen was also a product of the war -- she was cultivated to further a «good neighborood» policy with white southerners of european descent who, otherwise, would leaning on the side of Mussolini and Hitler.The book amounts to a cathedral of biographic documentation and it is a genuine report on History. But one quickly understands why so many living public figures, in Brazil, sue the selfmade biographers who haven't been previously authorized to write about them. The book gestures to replace History, with some kind of Byohistory. Notwithstanding the matters of fact, the narrative is pushing an ideological agenda. For example: the detail around the fact that the child Carmen used to make fun of a young neighbor with a limp in his leg, or the comment on the match-making of her sister, who had the same handicap, emerges at a very precise juncture, just to prophetize the unhappy marriage of Carmen with Dave Sebastian, who had one leg shorter than the other. The book also displays some degree of ignorance, when it wonders about the fact that, sometimes, Carmen was cast for a character were she would play the daughter of a Latin and an Irish. The book ignores completely the very conspicuous celtic roots of the portuguese region where Carmen was born and who bear fruit very vividly, both in her coreographies and in her style. The book almost commits suicide in her last paragraph: it describes Carmen's death as a kind os scenic whisk, in the honor of entertainment, because she died with a massive infartus, in the upper room of her mansion, while her guests -- as usual -- were having fun downstairs, till late in the night. On drugs and booze she was, as well as under one of the heaviest family reponsabilities, voluntarily taken upon her shoulders, Carmen has been exploited till her death by one of the most obscene and warlike subsystems of free market: the wild capitalism in Hollywood. The author seems to write with a superb self conviction, because he thinks he has read and searched everything possible about «the best-known brazilian woman of the XXth century». That's why he just describes, and doesn't even explain why Carmen bursts out crying when once welcome by a group of portuguese, dressed in their traditional clothes. She was stumbling in portuguese everytime, beginning with her family and their acquaintances. But those clothes were the image of a colour and of a gaiety which brazilians thought was purely brazilian, that means, an anacronic dividend of their former slaves' culture. Yes, as a matter of fact, all through her life, Carmen Miranda was, after all, the best known portuguese woman of the XXth century. She was brazilian, yes, but she never relinquished of being portuguese, despite the lack of subtility of her biographer.