Horror, Crime and Violence As Entertainment: A Brazilian Case Study

Monday, 11 July 2016: 09:40
Location: Seminar 52 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Enio PASSIANI, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
Alex NICHE TEIXEIRA, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil
In April 2014, the corpse of a eleven-year-old boy, Bernardo, was found buried in a ditch in Frederico Westphalen,  a country town of the southern Brazilian state Rio Grande do Sul. The history dominated the news media nationwide, in all its forms.

We believe that, in social representations of the phenomenon of violence, it is important to consider those produced by the mass media, which act as powerful instruments of "social construction of reality". Considering this perspective, this study aims to examine how the murder was approached and represented by the southern Brazilian leading newspaper: Zero Hora. The assumption underlying our research is that the fact was offered to the public as a novel divided into chapters, capturing the reader until the final upshot of the plot.

The tabloid  treatment, i.e., the novel in serial, snatches the reader, commodifying the news to turn horror into a kind of show. Violence is represented in a spectacular fashion, that is, from a logic of visibility, sensationalism and trivialization, which on the one hand, contributes to the newspaper's sales and, on the other hand, concurs to the production and dissemination of a culture of fear with no social roots. As if these episodes  were the result of a diffuse "evil" hanging over society, as if there were no social and historical factors involved in the production of violence.

We intend here to question the way press builds the senses of violence from certain discursive formulations which legitimate practices and policies that can act as obstacles to a more accurate understanding of such a complex phenomenon.