Brazil’s far right pilloried for Madonna outrage after figures spotted at concert

Brazil’s far right pilloried for Madonna outrage after figures spotted at concert

For conservative supporters of Brazil’s former president Jair Bolsonaro, Madonna’s recent mega show in Rio had seemed the perfect opportunity to score points against what they see as the ungodly and morally degenerate left.

After the Queen of Pop threw the biggest concert of her 40-year career on Copacabana beach on Saturday, one far-right congressman called the singer a “satanist”. Another reprehended the “immoral acts” that had unfolded on stage during the sexually charged event and called Madonna’s performance “an affront to Brazilian laws”.

There was only one problem: several prominent Bolsonaristas were among the 1.6 million people who packed one of Brazil’s most famous beaches to see the 65-year-old artist perform.

Reports in the Brazilian press said Jair Bolsonaro’s lawyer and former communications secretary Fabio Wajngarten; Rio’s Bolsonarista governor, Cláudio Castro; and a Bolsonarista senator called Jorge Seif all turned out to see the final show of Madonna’s Celebration tour.

Wajngarten was filmed punching the air as the pop superstar sang her 2005 hit Hung Up, although his self-conscious dance moves did not impress Brazilian choreophiles.

Castro was photographed at the show alongside Wajngarten, a pro-Bolsonaro politician called Renato Araújo, and the makeup artist of Jair Bolsonaro’s wife, Michelle. Also present was Seif, who was subsequently forced to publicly apologize for his sinful Saturday night, which came as southern Brazil – where he is from – faced what authorities are calling the worst climate disaster in its history.

“I’ve let my voters down,” Seif told the senate on Tuesday, asking for forgiveness for attending an event he thought inappropriate for “defenders of the family and Judaeo-Christian values”.

“When we let people down and we come to understand that we got it wrong we need to do something that the Holy Bible teaches, which is ask for forgiveness,” Seif said.

In a WhatsApp message leaked to the news website Metrópoles, the senator blamed his Madonna-adoring wife for making him attend the concert and justified his decision to go by claiming their marriage was going through a “terrible” patch.

Castro and Araújo both reportedly claimed they had left the show before some of the more titillating moments, which included two musclebound dancers pretending to perform oral sex on Madonna and the Brazilian pop sensation Anitta.

At another point in the concert Madonna appeared alongside the Brazilian drag queen and singer Pabllo Vittar to perform Music – another outrage to supporters of Bolsonaro, who was notorious for his hostility to the LGBTQ+ community and his self-declared homophobia. To rub salt in Bolsonarista wounds, Madonna and Vittar did so while waving Brazil’s yellow and green flag – the main symbol of Bolsonaro’s far-right religious nationalist movement.

Brazilian leftists celebrated the Bolsonarista embarrassment as the perfect example of rightwing hypocrisy. “Bolsonaristas spent the weekend calling the show Sodom and Gomorrah … but in fact they were there,” tweeted one critic.

Ricardo Rangel, a columnist for the conservative news magazine Veja, called Madonna’s concert a “slap in Jair Bolsonaro’s face”.

“Bolsonarismo wants to see women at home, demure and obedient, taking care of the children and it despises empowered women and feminists,” he wrote. “Madonna is the perfect representative of everything Bolsonarismo detests.”