The tshirts were withdrawn from sale yesterday after the Brazilian government complained they were “a crime against all humanity” that encouraged sexual tourism.
The tshirts, pictured here, were in questionable taste and the company was right to remove them from shop windows.
But the Brazilian government’s response is not just over the top (a crime against all humanity?), it is also hypocritical.
Walk down any Brazilian street and you are assailed by sensual images, both real and virtual, that go far beyond what you see in Europe or the US. Infant girls get their ears pierced and are adorned with pink ribbons. Children are wheeled out on TV shows in hot pants and crop tops where they dance suggestively. Gorgeous and scantily clad women are a fixture in adverts and on television.
Beer companies, to quote perhaps the most egregious example, don’t just have semi-naked blondes (yes, they’re usually blondes) in every commercial, they give their beers names such as Devassa, Proibida, and Gostosa.
Most of this is down to the private sector and, lamentably, the media.
But federal, state and municipal government rarely object and certainly not with the vigor they showed yesterday.
Instead, they continue to do business with the guilty companies. They give their imprimatur to carnival, where semi-nude and second rate models shake themselves atop pedestals under the guise of culture. They advertise with the offending media conglomerates.
This isn’t a comment on sexual attitudes. It’s a comment on hypocrisy and perspective.
Brazil is always sensitive about its image and will be even more so in the run up to the World Cup. But there are many more important issues to be resolved right now than the sale of a few questionable tshirts.
The furor over the tshirts is not wrong. It’s just missing the bigger picture.