It doesn’t really seem like Rio de Janeiro is profiting from the cult of malandragem (being a trickster).
There is a part of Rio de Janeiro’s population that has always created for itself – and for the rest of Brazil that pays attention to what is being said there – an image of the city as a national and global center of malandragem. It would be a great virtue. This “spirit”, in its way of seeing things, makes Rio a city that’s superior to others. It makes its citizens more intelligent, more able to deal with life and more adept than other Brazilians in achieving the best for themselves. Imagine that these people are all up there in the hills, or in the “communities” (favelas), as one must say today. Many indeed are, but they are not the ones who are most representative, for their voice does not go far. Those that really carry this flag forward are a portion of the, more or less, middle classes of the Zona Sul, with the decisive participation of artists, intellectuals who sign manifestos, opinion-makers, influencers, communicators and so on. Today, they are the guardians of philosophy who say that to qualify as a “malandro” is one of the greatest gifts a human being can give to himself. While his worst misfortune, a source of shame and complete proof of stupidity, is to be the exact opposite of this – the sucker, condemned to spend his life in humiliation, attainment and “disadvantaged.” Be everything in Rio; but do not, for God’s sake, be an “otário” (sucker, idiot).
The hit song in Rio de Janeiro at the end of 2017 is “Vai, Malandra” (image above). Football commentators, starting with the most popular ones, once again bet that the “natural malandragem” of the Brazilian footballer will be an important strategic advantage at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The city and state politicians are proudly described as “malandros”. In the arts and in what is called a “cultural milieu” the figure of the malandro, and the philosophy that is built around his merits, are among the main themes of interest. The word “malandro”, in short, is a compliment. The word “otário” is an insult. Nothing improves, of course, the general idea that associates the sucker with someone honest, a keeper of one’s word, taxpayer, a follower of the rules of the road, well-bred, etc – all this, more and more, is seen as a weakness, as well as stupidity, a lack of “jogo de cintura” (artful dodging) and other serious crimes. A decent citizen, in this climate, is a defective citizen.
The attitude of the cult of the “malandragem” does not seem to be having good results in the practical life of Rio de Janeiro. Until the other day, three former state governors were in jail at the same time for corruption – one of them, who was not lucky enough to put a Gilmar Mendes in his pocket on the way there, is still in the slammer. No other state in Brazil, at any time in history, has achieved anything like this. The year 2017 is ending with more than 130 policemen murdered in Rio, an average of one killed every three days. Public officials have forgotten what it is to receive a monthly salary on time. It was necessary to borrow money to pay for their mandated Christmas bonus. One of Rio’s and Brazil’s biggest points of pride, Maracanã Stadium, remains closed after spending billions of dollars worth of investments to impress at the Pan American Games, then the 2014 World Cup and finally the 2016 Olympics, one event after of the other. Flamengo, the biggest team in Rio, trains in a place called “Vulture’s Nest”. None of this really has the appearance of being a great big trick. – Source (PT)