At the beginning of the decade 1990, families still had the custom of sitting in front of the tube TV to watch the current serial. It is difficult to explain to the youngsters the size of the cultural hegemony that Globo exercised at that time. The songs that played on the radio were those from the soap opera’s soundtrack; the clothes sold in the haberdashery were from soap operas; the hairstyles; the type of makeup; the slang; the controversies discussed in the gynecologist’s anteroom or in bars – practically everything came from teledramaturgy.
Critics have always turned up their noses at this extremely popular culture, with its ridiculously simple script, clumsy interpretations and production based on the vain -fall. But since I reviewed “Tieta” (1989), I have said that it is possible to find some gems in these works that, without running the risk of sounding exaggerated, have monopolized public debate for at least two decades. One of these gems is the character Tião Galinha, created by Benedito Ruy Barbosa in the interpretation of Osmar Prado for the soap opera “Renascer”, an absolute success of 1993.
Tião Galinha it’s a hodgepodge of popular types. It’s half Macunaíma and half Sassá Mutema. A poor crab hunter in the Bahian mangroves, he gets tired of life in the mud and goes out into the world in search of another occupation. In tow he carries his wife and two children. Thanks to a priest, he gets a job on a colonel’s cocoa plantations, which gives the family a home and the means to support themselves with dignity. And, on top of that, he even gives education to Tião’s children.
But then Tião learns that “it is enough” to make a pact with the devil to “enrich”. Faced with the stupidity of the simple-minded man, José Inocêncio (Antônio Fagundes) instructs him to perform a lot of mocking rituals, among them “finding a virgin black hen of roosters and boys” and “hatching an egg under the armpit”. Hence the nickname Tião Galinha. Realizing that the ridiculousness of the rituals did not deter Tião from the idea of making a pact with the cramullhão, José Inocêncio tries one last argument to dissuade him from the idea. “You’ll have to sacrifice either your wife or one of your children to the devil,” he says, hoping that exchange will be the last straw even for an ambitious idiot like Tião. Is not. And the former crab hunter says he’s willing to sacrifice one of his children for the demo.
It’s worth noting that, despite being hard, Tião Galinha and his family’s life is far from being unbearable. A hard and dignified life, however, is not enough for him. He wants to get rich and instead of taking orders, he wants to boss his employees around. He wants to be called “coroné” and give his wife princess clothes. He wants to make his children doctors. And for that, he is willing to kill one of his sons. Or both. And to pass the ridiculous of walking from top to bottom first with a black hen and then with an egg under his arm.
Tião Galinha represents the ingratitude of man who, once his most pressing needs are satisfied, wants to be equal to God. What passes for naivety is, in fact, superb. And his ambition is not at all virtuous, because his aim is tyranny; it is the power that is gained through the sacrifice of love (the child, Creation) in exchange for worldly and finite riches and pleasures. Nothing could be more diabolical than that.
To the always-evoked question “how is it possible for someone to vote for the ex-convict?”, Tião Galinha offers an interesting answer. Tião, like most Brazilians, no longer knows what a dignified life is. The effort of work is not seen with honor either; It’s more like punishment. And there is no reasonable explanation for excessive ambition, simply because we learn early on that wealth is an intrinsically good thing, as if money relieves the rich from making moral choices. It’s as if fame conferred on him a kind of immediate immortality.
That’s why many people refuse to recognize that they live in difficult conditions, but at the same time much easier than all our ancestors. That’s why many people see no problem in sacrificing the freedom and prosperity of future generations in exchange for the possibility of living in an empty abundance of meaning. That’s why a lot of people walk around with a black chicken under their arm, indifferent to the ridicule and even the smell of the bird. That’s why some consider voting for an ex-convict who insists on promising them worlds and funds.
Ah, one last piece of information that might be worth mentioning in this text: thirty years ago, Tião Galinha, for his part, more caricatured and childlike side, he fell in love with the kids, who saw him as a fool. Anyone who didn’t have a half-hearted friend nicknamed Tião Galinha at that time didn’t have a childhood. These kids are now 35 to 45 years old, occupying important positions in education, journalism, HR departments, throughout the State machine. And, of course, in political parties.