, , , , , , ,

The concept of well-being in life has undergone a major paradigm shift in the postwar world. Especially in Brazil, industrialization was one of the factors responsible for rural depopulation and the consequent overcrowding of urban centers. The expansion of capitalism, and the American Empire as a reference, was the major factor in the industrial explosion of postwar Brazil. The industrial revolution of the late eighteenth century that began in Britain and in a few decades spread to Western Europe and the United States only arrived effectively in Brazil after World War II as a result of the influence of North American capitalism.

The Brazilian industrial revolution that happened in the second half of the twentieth century brought with it access to consumer goods never before possible to the population. However, these consumer goods were almost exclusively accessible to the urban population. This initiated a migratory movement from rural areas to major centers of development. In a way, this social transformation had its main cause in strengthening the capitalist system in Brazil because of U. S. influence. Beserra thus concludes about this migratory movement, “Since capitalist development has promoted the dislocation of large numbers of people from ‘periphery’ to ‘center,’ or from ‘backward’ to ‘modern’ areas, immigration has been seen as a highly positive phenomenon for the immigrants themselves and for their hometowns because it contributes to modernization at large.”[1]

With the growth of the Brazilian urban population, the influence of North American capitalist ideology became responsible for the new concept of well-being of life in the thinking of the Brazilian population. Hollywood movies, manufactured goods, comfort technology, and other byproducts of industrialization brought a new concept of life for Brazilians. The concept of personal well-being has become associated with the condition of the North American society.

The technological and industrial advancement that progressed after the Second World War did not meet the demand of the population growth in Brazilian urban centers. The large urban agglomerations have become ghettos of poverty, called “favelas” in Brazil. Thus the United States became the paradise of dreams to a large portion of the population, especially to young Brazilians. californiaThe strong appeal of cinematic glamor that Hollywood showed nurtured the dream of many people. The musical compositions of Nelson Motta[2] and Lulu Santos[3] translates the dream of Brazilian youth during the 1980s: “Garota, eu vou pra Califórnia. Viver a vida sobre as ondas. Vou ser artista de cinema. O meu destino é ser star.”[4] Interestingly, the word “star”[5] in the lyrics of the song is in English rather than Portuguese, reinforcing the ideological Americanization of the musical poem. Thus, the North American ideals of well-being, comfort, and materialism were imposed upon the postwar generation of the Western world.

[1] Beserra, Brazilian Immigrants in the United States, 11.

[2] Nelson Cândido Motta Jr. was born in São Paulo on October 29th, 1944. He is journalist, composer, writer, screenwriter, music producer, and Brazilian lyricist.

[3] Luiz Maurício Pragana dos Santos was born in Rio de Janeiro on May 4, 1953. Simply known as Lulu, he is singer, songwriter, and Brazilian guitarist.

[4] Nelson Motta and Lulu Santos, De Repente, Califórnia, Warner Music Group, August15, 1982. “Girl I’m going to California, living the life on the waves. I’ll be a movie star. My destiny is to be a star.”

[5] “Estrela” is the word in Portuguese for the word “star” in English. In the lyrics of the song, the word “star” is used intentionally instead “estrela” in Portuguese.