Freedom of expression ‘has a price’, says Brazilian comedian
Brazil has never been a big fan of freedom of expression, says Brazilian actor and comedian Gregório Duvivier. The host of the weekly HBO Brazil show Greg News, popular with young people, is the latest contributor to swissinfo.ch’s Global Voices of Freedom series.
“I may have freedom of expression, almost like in Switzerland,” says Gregório Duvivier. “But it comes with a price.”
After cracking a joke about a gay Jesus Christ last year, Duvivier and his colleagues at the Porta dos Fundos production company had to be protected by armed bodyguards for several months. The production studio was also fire-bombed on Christmas Eve.
The son of a sculptor and a singer, Duvivier, who originates from Rio de Janeiro, started making a living from comedy as a teenager. He later moved on to acting, comedy and writing. Eight years ago, he began commenting on Brazilian politics.
“I feel very privileged as I am working with the American company HBO that has no connection to the Brazilian government. There I can say what I want, as long as it’s not a crime,” the 33-year-old says.
Duvivier is extremely critical about freedom of expression in Brazil, Latin Americas largest and most populated (210 million inhabitants) country.
“I don’t think it has ever been as bad as it is now. This government has openly declared war on minorities,” he says.
As an independent comedian, it is impossible to remain silent and not speak up, he says.
“My obligation is to push the limits. The worst problem, the worst risk of limiting freedom of expression, is when you engage in anticipatory obedience and self-censorship,” he says.
His Christmas programme about a gay Jesus was initially banned by a lower court, but Brazil’s Supreme Court finally ruled that it was “not insulting to Christians”.