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Xuxa: The Mega-Marketing of Gender, Race, and Modernity

Amelia Simpson

Publication Year: 1993

"A fascinating new book...[that] offers a lucid academic critique of Xuxa's persona." —Entertainment Weekly Former Playboy centerfold and soft-porn movie actress Xuxa (SHOO-sha) emerged in the 1980s as Brazil's mass media megastar. Through her children's television show, which reaches millions of people in Latin America and the United States, this blond sex symbol has attained extraordinary cultural authority. Reaching far beyond younger audiences, Xuxa's show informs the culture at large about gender relations, racial democracy, and idealized beauty. Backed by Brazil's TV Globo, the fourth-largest commercial network in the world, Xuxa has built an empire. Amelia Simoson's colorful portrayal is the first book to explore how Xuxa's representation of femininity, her privileging of a white ideal of beauty, and her promotional approach to culture perpetuate inequality on an unprecedented scale. Simpson's thoughtful analysis exposes the complicity of a mass audience eager to celebrate Xuxa's deeply compromised representations of gender, race, and modernity. Xuxa also explores the meaning behind the myth—Xuxa's long-term relationship with Brazil's soccer idol, Pelé, and the near-worship of her atypical blond, blue-eyed appearance by Brazil's population. As the author examines Xuxa's suggestive style juxtaposed with juvenile entertainment, and the phenomenon of Xuxa-look-alike teenaged paquitas, she unfold the symbolic territory of blond sex symbols worldwide. "Simpson has brought the facts and persona of Xuxa together in this well-documented, well-written analysis of the Brazilian superstar. She touches bases on gender, race, and changing patterns in Brazil. Xuxa is rich with information, laced with insight about the methods, practices and abuses that abound with the marketing of a personality and its products, and the effect of TV on all who watch it, especially the children." —News from Brazil

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii

XUXA'S NARRATIVE CONTINUES TO UNFOLD AS this book goes to press. In keeping with her shift to television markets outside Brazil, the star's debut Englishlanguage children's program is being sold in syndication...

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Introduction: Xuxamania

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pp. 1-12

IN 1980, CARLOS DIEGUES made a movie called Bye Bye Brazil. In the film, a tiny band of circus performers travel deep into the Amazon in search of a town or even a village that television has not yet reached. They discover that not a single corner of the nation remains...

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1. Myths of Beauty and Myths of Race

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pp. 13-48

THE EXTRAORDINARY dimensions of the Xuxa phenomenon inevitably pose the question of the origins of such an imposing cultural icon. Besides charisma, Xuxa's ability to harness the emotional energy of a mass public is a product of her representation of specific values and attitudes in Brazilian culture. Xuxa has come to embody her country's complex and conflicting...

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2. Xuxavision: Programmed Euphoria

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pp. 49-95

XUXA WAS A NATIONAL celebrity before she began her television career, but it was television that conferred on her the status of a star. It is in the context of that medium that the mass audience identification with her image has emerged. Beginning with Xuxa's first television program for children, the "Clube da Crianca" (Kids' Club), which was broadcast on the Manchete...

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3. Mass Marketing the Messages

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pp. 96-137

THE NARRATIVE OF Xuxa's stardom is marked by a deep commitment to consumerism. The star's carefully cultivated image, which draws mass audiences with its embodiment of discordant views and its reassuring stance against change, also generates a loyalty that is readily channeled toward messages of consumption

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4. Xhaping the Future

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pp. 138-169

THE VIGILANCE WITH which Xuxa's image is tended and the unusual consensus with which its meanings are negotiated by the public, have led to the creation of a media giant that Veja magazine calls "bigger than Globo."1 One measure of the impact ofXuxa...

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5. Kids and Kidnappers

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pp. 170-194

THE LEAD STORY ON THE evening news in Brazil on Wednesday, August 7, 1991, was that Xuxa and one of her look-alikes, seventeen-year-old Paquita Leticia Spiller, had apparently been the targets of a bizarre kidnapping attempt. Two young men had bought a car, customized it for battle, and allegedly tried to snatch...


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pp. 195-232


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pp. 233-238

E-ISBN-13: 9781439903537

Publication Year: 1993