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Reverse Cancel Culture: How Nikolas Ferreira used cyberbullying to become Brazil’s top-voted congressman.

Reverse Cancel Culture: How Nikolas Ferreira used cyberbullying to become Brazil’s top-voted congressman.

By Eduardo Weiss

Being bullied in high school can be traumatic, leaving scars that can last decades.

Now just imagine that the video of your harassment goes viral after an adult posts it with his own hateful commentary and, instead of being shunned by society, his popularity skyrockets.

This is exactly what happened in the city of Belo Horizonte, capital of Minas Gerais, when Nikolas Ferreira, then an alderman for his city council, rose to national fame after using his social media channels to expose a 14-year-old trans student.

The video was shot by Ferreira’s sister, also a student at the school. In it, the young politician’s sister questions and humiliates the victim about her presence inside a girl’s bathroom at her high school.

Ferreira, in turn, posted the video on social media, also belating the young student and encouraging parents to take their kids out of the school.

Nikolas Ferreira was never punished for publicly shaming the vulnerable youth. Neither has he faced any serious consequences for it.

He was rewarded.

The video of the young girl went viral and far-right conservatives lauded him.

Months later, Nikolas Ferreira went on to be Brazil’s top-voted congressman in the 2022 national elections as well as the most-voted congressman from Minas Gerais in Brazilian history. He currently serves his first four-year term.

This phenomenon has been disturbingly common in Brazil. In what accounts to be a reverse cancel culture, individuals committing reprehensible acts may see their popularity rise, instead of fall.

Case in point: DJ Ivis, a musician from the State of Paraíba, had 736 thousand followers on Instagram before videos of him assaulting his then-wife, in front of their toddler, went public.

Immediately after the video went viral, the musician gained hundreds of thousands of followers, and even today maintains a follower count of over a million and a half.

The setbacks were extensive, but temporary. After the video went viral, Ivis was immediately fired from the label representing him and was blocked from radio stations and streaming services. He was imprisoned but later released a few months later.

Only a year after his violent actions were seen by the public, Ivis produced a hit song recorded with Gusttavo Lima, one of Brazil’s hottest sertanejo acts, that went on to become one of the country’s top songs on streaming charts.

It can be theorized that this partnership only took place precisely due to the new level of fame Ivis attained infamously. It does appear that DJ continues to reap rewards from an act of violence, instead of facing punishment.

As for Ferreira, after having gained a higher level of success and recognition after publicly shaming a teenage girl online, the now congressman continues to act in absurd and offensive ways. These appear to be attempts to gain more views on TikTok and other social media platforms, rather than to actually enact legislative change.

Recently, on March 8th, in what was intended to be a solemn commemoration of International Women’s Day, Ferreira showed up to give his speech at the pulpit in a blonde wig.

“Call me Nikole,” he said.

What ensued were several minutes of sneering transphobic debauchery, disrespecting the congress’ internal regiment as well as mocking trans women.

”Women are losing space to men who say they are women,” he said, summing up his arguments.

While heavily criticized by his peers, Ferreira made a splash as intended. Videos of his speech went viral, outshining and gaining more traction than any other made on the occasion.

Ferreira is young, handsome and charismatic. His star continues to rise, opening up more doors in Brazilian politics as well in the hearts and minds of a younger and more impressionable public.

Seeing as his fame rides on the coattails of hate speech, specifically trans hate, his continued success poses a serious risk to trans rights and human rights in general.

This only worsens Brazil’s already precarious attitudes toward its trans population. Our country is among the most dangerous places in the world to be transgender or transvestite. In 2022, one hundred and thirty transgender and transvestite individuals were murdered, the highest murder rate of trans people on the planet.

Hate speech kills. And the alarming popularity of hate speech, being disguised as “exercising freedom of speech”, has been growing in Brazil.

As long as individuals continue to be publicly praised and rewarded for this particular type of “exercise” in Brazil, the more likely that violence against minorities will be socially accepted and become as virulent as the videos influential figures are posting that subtly encourage it.

WhatsApp Image 2023 05 24 at 02.49.57
Photo: Nikolas Ferreira. Hugo Barreto/Metrópoles.

Imagem do WhatsApp de 2023 03 13 as 14.52.42 1Eduardo WeissSociologist, Photographer and Journalist at Xapuri. Photo: Pablo Valadares/Chamber of Deputies.

 

 

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UMA REVISTA PRA CHAMAR DE NOSSA

Era novembro de 2014. Primeiro fim de semana. Plena campanha da Dilma. Fim de tarde na RPPN dele, a Linda Serra dos Topázios. Jaime e eu começamos a conversar sobre a falta que fazia termos acesso a um veículo independente e democrático de informação.

Resolvemos fundar o nosso. Um espaço não comercial, de resistência. Mais um trabalho de militância, voluntário, por suposto. Jaime propôs um jornal; eu, uma revista. O nome eu escolhi (ele queria Bacurau). Dividimos as tarefas. A capa ficou com ele, a linha editorial também.

Correr atrás da grana ficou por minha conta. A paleta de cores, depois de larga prosa, Jaime fechou questão – “nossas cores vão ser o vermelho e o amarelo, porque revista tem que ter cor de luta, cor vibrante” (eu queria verde-floresta). Na paz, acabei enfiando um branco.

Fizemos a primeira edição da Xapuri lá mesmo, na Reserva, em uma noite. Optamos por centrar na pauta socioambiental. Nossa primeira capa foi sobre os povos indígenas isolados do Acre: ‘Isolados, Bravos, Livres: Um Brasil Indígena por Conhecer”. Depois de tudo pronto, Jaime inventou de fazer uma outra boneca, “porque toda revista tem que ter número zero”.

Dessa vez finquei pé, ficamos com a capa indígena. Voltei pra Brasília com a boneca praticamente pronta e com a missão de dar um jeito de imprimir. Nos dias seguintes, o Jaime veio pra Formosa, pra convencer minha irmã Lúcia a revisar a revista, “de grátis”. Com a primeira revista impressa, a próxima tarefa foi montar o Conselho Editorial.

Jaime fez questão de visitar, explicar o projeto e convidar pessoalmente cada conselheiro e cada conselheira (até a doença agravar, nos seus últimos meses de vida, nunca abriu mão dessa tarefa). Daqui rumamos pra Goiânia, para convidar o arqueólogo Altair Sales Barbosa, nosso primeiro conselheiro. “O mais sabido de nóis,” segundo o Jaime.

Trilhamos uma linda jornada. Em 80 meses, Jaime fez questão de decidir, mensalmente, o tema da capa e, quase sempre, escrever ele mesmo. Às vezes, ligava pra falar da ótima ideia que teve, às vezes sumia e, no dia certo, lá vinha o texto pronto, impecável.

Na sexta-feira, 9 de julho, quando preparávamos a Xapuri 81, pela primeira vez em sete anos, ele me pediu para cuidar de tudo. Foi uma conversa triste, ele estava agoniado com os rumos da doença e com a tragédia que o Brasil enfrentava. Não falamos em morte, mas eu sabia que era o fim.

Hoje, cá estamos nós, sem as capas do Jaime, sem as pautas do Jaime, sem o linguajar do Jaime, sem o jaimês da Xapuri, mas na labuta, firmes na resistência. Mês sim, mês sim de novo, como você sonhava, Jaiminho, carcamos porva e, enfim, chegamos à nossa edição número 100. E, depois da Xapuri 100, como era desejo seu, a gente segue esperneando.

Fica tranquilo, camarada, que por aqui tá tudo direitim.

Zezé Weiss

P.S. Você que nos lê pode fortalecer nossa Revista fazendo uma assinatura: www.xapuri.info/assine ou doando qualquer valor pelo PIX: contato@xapuri.info. Gratidão!

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