TV

Brazil, Deforestation & The Golden Shower President: A Review of Volume 3, Episode 1 of “Patriot Act”

Patriot Act with Hasan Minhaj has returned! The first episode aired on Netflix yesterday and it started Volume 3 off with a topic that has been at the top of many people’s minds lately — the environment. It wasn’t specific to climate change, but it was focused on a problem that’s been making a comeback lately — the Amazon. No, not Jeff Bezo’s multinational e-commerce company, but the Amazon rainforest. Minhaj opens up the discussion by saying, “Tonight, I want to talk about the Amazon. The one that’s losing half of its assets, but not to divorce.” Clearly, the break between volumes has not affected the lively host’s sense of humor.

Minhaj displays a reel of different televised advertisements and comical public service announcements (PSA) that aimed to teach children about the destruction of the Amazon. The final PSA was narrated by Kevin Spacey, which made me question the show’s sensitivity toward his allegations, until Minhaj stated, “That PSA ages so poorly Kevin Spacey doesn’t even think it’s hot anymore,” followed by, “Hey, you didn’t think you’d ever see him on Netflix again… they didn’t even replace him with Christopher Plummer!”, referring to the last minute swap made for All the Money in the World after Spacey was accused of sexual assault in 2018. As usual, Minhaj jokes around for much of this episode, but he does teach the audience something.

You may have noticed that the children’s shows about the Amazon have turned to other issues in the last couple of years. Minhaj says this is because deforestation of the Amazon actually decreased between 2004 and 2012 (“Yes, it’s shocking. Humans actually stepped up and did the right thing.”). Although the rainforest’s conditions may have been improving for a while, it’s now in danger again and the timing is terrible. The Amazon is important to the Earth for several reasons, one being that it produces the cooling system by creating oxygen and water vapor. It’s also home to many indigenous people. 17% of the rainforest has been destroyed, and a lot of that can be blamed on Brazil. Minhaj explains how Brazil’s president, Jair Bolsonaro, is the reason for that. He starts by showing that Bolsonaro’s behavior is inappropriate — he tweeted a video of a man urinating on another man, which started the Twitter hashtag #GoldenShowerPresident throughout the country. He also partakes in what is referred to as agribusiness, the industry of food, which makes up for a quarter of Brazil’s economy. Brazil exports many items, but beef is the most important because cattle ranching causes 80% of deforestation. The company that processes the meat is called JBS and it has a valued past with the Bolsonaro administration — it’s doubtful that company will ever have to so much as pay the fines for deforestation, much less stop cattle ranching.

In addition to the issue with beef, the Amazon needs to be protected because there are indigenous people who actually live there. They don’t have legal or physical protection because of the lack of any protection for the rainforest. That’s why they’ve created The Guardians of the Forest, which aims to protect the Amazon’s inhabitants from harm. Bolsonaro has demanded that “not even one centimeter of land” can be reserved in the rainforest for the indigenous people. This is the reason Sonia Guajajara is standing up for her tribe and their home through activism. She was the first indigenous woman to run for vice president, and she actually creates memes of the president and posts them online to spread a disliking for him. “On one side, are the people who live on the land and want to protect it, and on the other side are the people who see the Amazon as a resource to exploit,” Minhaj states sadly. In order to attempt to save the Amazon and its people, Minhaj introduced a new website that you can use to donate called https://goldenshowerpresidente.com/.

After he wraps up talking about the relationship between Brazil and deforestation, Minhaj quickly moves to the topic of autocrats, politicians who hold supreme power, and the Philippines. Though this topic only gets about nine minutes of the show, it’s fascinating. This week’s episode was a fantastic opening for Volume 3 and I would highly recommend watching it. Minhaj puts a comical spin on the news, allowing viewers to understand today’s complicated world and laugh at the same time.

Featured image Via Youtube

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