Thursday, 26 January 2012

Luiza Esta No Canada

"Luíza não está mais no Canadá e voltou ao Brasil fazendo sucesso. Tudo começou com um comercial de TV, estrelado pelo pai dela, que é colunista social. Foi o suficiente para a filha cair na rede e virar destaque nos buscadores de notícias."

Luiza Rabello was an au pair in Barrie, Ontario when her father, Gerardo Rabello said “except Luiza, who is in Canada” during the production of a commercial selling condos in the Brazilian north-eastern state of Paraiba in which he, his wife and two of his three children were present. He wanted to explain the absence of his 17 year old daughter in the video. The remark became a cultural meme in Brazil in less than two days and spawned a musical parody, a  Hitler parody and an interview of Luiza by a national TV network as well as a website, a face book page and many tweets.
As you can see from the Google trends graph below, this is a transitory meme which never expanded beyond Brazil and ended within four days.

Compare this with a sustained meme like Duck Face which is an English translation of the Japanese word "Ahiru-guchi" and originated as a Japanese meme for a facial expression which women in Japan use to attract men. The Google trends graph below tells the tale.

This Japanese meme post is still in the top five posts which I've done on this blog. Why do some memes die out quickly while others transcend their cultural and linquistic boundaries to become part of the global cultural environment? Is it the size of the population, the number of International speakers of the language or the global awareness of the country's cultural interests? Brazil should have the advantage over Japan in all these areas. Brazil has 192 million people to Japan's 127 million people. More folks speak Portugese than Japanese. Does the global community consider Latin America to be a cultural backwater and doesn't pay attention to events in this part of the world?
Memes do seem to have a threshold level beyond which they are self sustaining and are maintained within the specific culture even if they aren't global. For example:
Take the Russian acronym, ОБС (short for Одна Баба Сказала), in translation “A foolish girl said” for an expression implying the spread of rumors by mouth or the press.  This is a local meme which has never travelled beyond its origin.

How memes replicate and propagate in the Internet age is something which I haven't explored but might be applicable to several threads that I've explored lately in comments on other blogs.

1 comment:

  1. ОБС actually means "an old woman told me." This is a reference to a cultural tradition where old women would sit on a bench in front of every house and apartment building, observe the comings and goings of the residents, and gossip about them.

    I pretty much had to get married at 19 without wanting to because of the gossip such old ladies were spreading about me. :-(

    "Does the global community consider Latin America to be a cultural backwater and doesn't pay attention to events in this part of the world"

    - It does, unfortunately.