The tumultuous Brazilian presidential election has already involved the sudden, tragic death of a candidate; widespread protests and wild fluctuations in the country’s stock market. Now the latest development is — a Twitter war with U.S. actor Mark Ruffalo?
Things took an odd — even for Brazil politics — turn on Monday, when the actor, who is an outspoken activist on environmental issues and clean water policy, threw his (unsolicited) support behind environmentalist candidate Marina Silva.
— Vincent Bevins (@Vinncent) September 30, 2014
In a video posted on Silva’s official YouTube account with Portuguese subtitles, Ruffalo calls Silva “one of the most interesting and exciting politicians on the world stage today” and praises her “understanding of the importance and treasure of the environment.” While the actor stops short of directly asking Brazilians to vote for her, he suggests that she represents an important and necessary change in the political world order.
Almost instantly, Brazil’s many Twitter users took to the medium to educate the actor about the nuances of the election and his chosen candidate’s complicated political position, particularly when it came to LGBTQ rights, where many see Silva as a flip-flopper.
Seeing lots of new Brazil tweets in my feed. what is happening and why is @MarkRuffalo involved
— Helena Price (@helena) September 29, 2014
— Marcelo Cidral (@marcelocidral) September 29, 2014
@MarkRuffalo don't believe what this account says. Marina said she supported gay rights and dropped it the next day.
— julia ⚢ (@exidsisters) September 29, 2014
I heard that you're supporting Marina Silva, @MarkRuffalo. Please, don't. She's not the person you think she is. Look it up and you'll see.
— danielle (@daniscoralick) September 29, 2014
— L Smith (@L_Smith_VII) September 29, 2014
Not everyone in Brazil thought the issue was worthy of their serious attention. Some decided to solicit Ruffalo’s opinion on state-level elections…
Hey @MarkRuffalo which one of the candidates for the government of Paraná are you supporting? I really need to know because, man…
— Blovi Escabe (@bolivarescobar) September 30, 2014
…while a few clever Brazilians recalled Ruffalo’s role as a certain green-skinned superhero — who happens to share a name with one of the players on Brazil’s national football team:
— Yasha Gallazzi (@yashagallazzi) September 30, 2014
So, while its economy seems recession bound, Brazil's elections focus on a Hulk impersontar http://t.co/cxKpFfruJp
— Rodrigo Orihuela (@rorihuela) September 30, 2014
After the flood of messages, Ruffalo quickly retracted his support, posting a message to his Tumblr account in which he apologized for “not doing a better job vetting this decision.”
“It has come to my attention that the Brazilian Candidate for President, Marina Silva, may be against gay marriage. That would put me in direct conflict with her. As you know I have fought for marriage equality in my country and see it as a reflection of the quality of a candidate. I did not know this was her stand on this issue when I made the video supporting her. I only saw her debate where she said she supported gay marriage and have come to find out after the fact that her party has pulled her support of this issue. I can not, in good conscience, support a candidate who takes a hard right approach to issues such as Gay Marriage and Reproductive rights even if that candidate is willing to do the right thing on environmental issues.”
— J.A. de Castro Neves (@BrazilPolitics) September 30, 2014
Though Silva was seen as a potential game-changer when she first accepted the Brazilian Socialist Party’s (PSB) nomination in mid-August, following the death of her running mate and original PSB candidate Eduardo Campos in a plane crash, her campaign has since faltered and lost a significant amount of support due to several public missteps and changes to her platform. In particular, Silva’s position on LGBTQ rights has come under fire, as support for marriage equality was removed from her official platform almost immediately after her nomination.
Next to candidate Levy Fidelix, who recently said gay individuals should seek psychological help — inviting his own ferocious social media backlash — Silva may look positively progressive, but the devoutly religious candidate is still seen as somewhat behind the times in many parts of Brazilian society, at least when it comes to this particular social issue.
Still, with just a few days left before the crucial first round of elections, in which Silva could either pose a strong challenge to incumbent Dilma Rousseff or suffer what would be, for her optimistic camp, a disheartening defeat, the focus on Hollywood seems like more of a distraction than an advantage.