Critique | Sex, Sermons and Politics

by Luiz Santiago - November 4, 2016 @planocritico

As the synopsis of this documentary tells us, Brazil builds and sells an image of its society where sexuality is liberated and diversity respected. However, this same Brazil is proving to be a conservative country where women die because of the ban on abortion and where the highest amount of murders against homosexuals and transsexuals occurs in the world.

Directed by Aude Chevalier-Beaumel and Michael Gimenez, Sex Sermons and Politics (2016), quickly passes by the dilemma of victims of prejudice and the support they have – or don’t – as citizens to have their civil/human rights guaranteed and their immense erosion against the political sphere.

On this theme, the film offers a sharp look at the paradox of sexual freedom. If, on one hand, we talk about a Brazil that theoretically speaks openly about sex and has very sensual music (or even "forbidden" music for very specific reasons), there are also many examples of groups that are socially mistreated. On the other hand, there are individuals who are fighting to silence them all and to withdraw some social conquests already obtained.

In a way, this documentary is a session of moral, ethical and human torture. To see a Congress hall used for worship; a congressman pastor saying in a sermon that “homosexualism” (sic) is the logical step towards paedophilia and zoophilia (yes, he really says that, the sermon is in the documentary); another congressman pastor saying that even in case of rape he will do everything possible so that the victim doesn’t abort... all this can annoy the viewer to a point where it becomes difficult not to let go of an insult or to scream out in the middle of the cinema.

The line of investigation of the work starts from the assassination of Jandira Magdalena dos Santos Cruz, 27, who after an abortion that went wrong in a clandestine clinic, was burned by a mafia gang, who wanted to erase all traces. The film begins with questions to iconic intolerant figures well known to Brazilians, such as Pastor Marco Feliciano or Christian congressman Jair Bolsonaro, who with his sons has the delicacy to ask the director Michael Gimenez if he likes to take it in his asshole. This is the level of involvement of congressmen pastors in the film, not to mention the interview with Silas Malafaia and his idea of "destroying the argument right as it gets out", another very astonishing example.

With so many bombs to interview and a dense theme in the hands, the directors could have gone further with this film, prompting some discussions, and pushing the debate forward. At one point there is an incoherent thematic deviation, focusing only on issues of State policy, away from the violence against women and individual freedoms and the free exercise of sexuality. At the end, this theme comes back and is treated as it should, but this deviation has a negative cost.

Sex Sermons and Politics shows only part of the action of the evangelical front at the National Congress and what it has done to make the Constitution a sacred space. The secularity of the State is seen as a bad taste joke throughout the film, and we don’t know if we are watching a joke of Dias Gomes disguised as a documentary or if we see a small piece of the sad socio-political reality of Brazil, where serious issues, which have an influence on the lives of millions of citizens, lean on religious principles, without popular consultation, and are based on a faith that is not everyone’s, but in recent years Brazil (this documentary is from 2016!) serves them all as a parameter for governing. Horror! Horror!

Translation: Michael Gimenez and Aude Chevalier-Beaumel

Original article in Portugese here