It Was A Pleasure, Marília Mendonça

Folha knew the size and impact of the news and, even so, got confused

In 2015, Folha and a good part of the so-called big press woke up to a Brazil that did not exist in their culture sections. Cristiano Araújo, country singer, died with his girlfriend in a car accident in Goiás. An avalanche coming from social networks swept the newsrooms off guard. The truth was that journalists did not know who Araújo was, much less his real size. Or the sertanejo genre.

The meager coverage of the newspapers contrasted with the sensationalism of the TVs, while the real country surfaced on the internet. The shock was great, and Folha, as usual, discussed its own ignorance. Journalist Fabio Victor, then deputy editor of Ilustrada, described the mistake in an article. "Yesterday many of us discovered that our tastes are limited to those we live with." He detected this ("Cristiano in general tells the pain of love too much") and remembered "Notícias do Brasil," by Fernando Brant and Milton Nascimento. "The news is that Brazil is not just a coastline/ It's much more, it's much more than any southern zone/...Being facing the sea, with your back to Brazil,/ will not make this place a good country."

On Friday (5) a plane crash killed Marília Mendonça, 26, and four other people in Minas Gerais. The most listened to artist in the country, 36 million followers on Instagram, known as the queen of suffering, was not unknown to Folha. About four years ago, an excellent newspaper special, "Very Popular Brazilian Music," analyzed 134 billion plays on YouTube from 2014 to 2017. "The country's most listened to artist, country singer Marília Mendonça, 22, was played 31 times more than Chico Buarque, 73, in the last three years," summarized the text of the opening report.

A TV Folha video introduced the character to those who did not know her. "One day you're going to take a horn, which, in addition to singing backcountry, you'll compose the most painful backcountry you have," says Marília about a conversation at the beginning of her career. Feminism, self-esteem and good humor are already there: "Suffering is a reason created to get drunk." And the scale: "As soon as we decided I was going to sing, my manager said 'now let's get a gym, right? Let's go to the nutritionist'. I said, oh, this thing doesn't suit me very well... I think you have to love yourself."

On Friday (5) the discussion could have been about the raw footage of the accident and the dead body live on TV; or the correct decision, for everything that has been written here, to report her death in the headline of the print, despite Rosa Weber's decision on the rapporteur's amendments; or the more appealing option of giving the bigger picture to the plane at the waterfall, a recipe identical to the one used with Ayrton Senna, in 1994.

The discussion, however, revolved around two paragraphs of an analysis signed by Gustavo Alonso, columnist at Folha, who has a doctorate in history and is a specialist in sertanejo, a recent acquisition of the newspaper to fill the gap discovered in 2015. "She was never an excellent singer" is the sentence that starts the first excerpt. "Marília Mendonça was fat and fought with the scales" is the one that starts the second.

If you haven't read the article, but have already drawn your conclusions, know that Flamengo and Corinthians fans together did the same thing on social media. The clipping of the two paragraphs was the avalanche of shifts on social networks, but taking only Folha and the columnist to the internet court. The damage.

Several voices from the newspaper itself rose against the article. Machismo, feminism, self-esteem, fatphobia, it was all there. As usual, Folha criticizes Folha.

The other 18 paragraphs of Alonso's article are interesting. His testimony in the Café da Manhã podcast, on Monday (8), is even more complete. He better develops his thesis about her quality as a singer and about Brazilian singer-songwriters. It contrasts with that of Caetano, who described her voice as a power.

The Illustrated claims that it could not censor an opinion text, that it is not possible to confuse obituaries with hagiography. I agree, but I wonder if anyone who read the article before it was published didn't realize the potential for harm in those two paragraphs. The question of the scale permeates the entire analysis, but only the part highlighted on the networks gives rise to abhorrence. Whoever read it saw no problem?

From Friday (5) to Friday (12), Folha published 110 texts with Marília Mendonça in the title, more than the artist received in the last two years, 73 articles since November 2019. Those were, in general, little elaborated reproductions of posts on social networks about concerts, dating, the child and also about the scale.

Folha knew the size and impact of the news this time, but it is still far from a Brazil that sees the queens, not just the chubby ones.

José Henrique Mariante

Trained as an engineer and journalist, Mariante has been a reporter, correspondent, editor and editorial secretary at Folha, where he has worked since 1991. He is the ombudsman.

Translated by Kiratiana Freelon