This essay examines the romantic comedies S.O.S. mulheres ao mar (2014) and Meu passado me condena (2013), which repeat several tropes of the chanchada—a film comedy genre with its beginnings in early twentieth-century Brazil. Both offer a negotiation of changing class status in Brazil during a period of increasing international attention and economic growth (2002 to 2014). Although these films promote new notions of Brazilian cultural identity, they also sustain established hierarchies (of gender, race, ethnicity, sexuality) in favor of promoting neoliberal values and ways of being. In particular they promote consumerism, self-improvement, and the cultivation of personal happiness. Unlike Brazilian popular comedy of the mid-twentieth century, these films do not offer self-deprecating critiques of modernity or the failings of capitalism. Rather, S.O.S. mulheres ao mar and Meu passado me condena celebrate and promote the idea of a new emergent Brazil, making gender and sexuality frameworks for thinking about contemporary Brazilian cultural identity.
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