Using the audio-vision theory to understand Law and Politics: an analysis of the clip “Cowboy Fora da Lei” by Raul Seixas

Utilizando a teoria da audiovisão para compreender o Direito e a Política: uma análise do clip Cowboy fora da lei, de Raul Seixas

Amanda Muniz Oliveira(1); Horácio Wanderlei Rodrigues(2)

1 Doutoranda e Mestra em Direito/PPGD/UFSC.
E-mail: amandai040@gmail.com

2 Doutor em Direito (Filosofia do Direito e da Política) pela Universidade Federal de Santa Catarina (UFSC). Sócio fundador do Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa e Pós-Graduação em Direito (CONPEDI) e da Associação Brasileira de Ensino do Direito (ABEDi). Membro do Instituto Iberomericano de Derecho Procesal (IIDP). Pesquisador do Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico e Tecnológico (CNPq) e da Fundação Meridional. Presidente da Comissão de Educação Jurídica da OAB/SC.
E-mail: horaciowr@gmail.com


This conceptual paper focuses on the relationship between law, music and images, and seeks to demonstrate how the interconnection of these three elements can be interpreted as a vehicle for social struggle, based on the example of Raul Seixas. Since the artist composed at a time when the law was created and imposed by dictatorial figures, his rock songs can be understood as representations of this law, which can help to understand the political, legal and social relations of this period. However, when researchers from different areas propose to work with this type of document, some elements tend to be ignored, such as the melody and video clips of these songs. The paper, in this sense, will present a way of using the image, sounds and lyrics, in order to complement senses and to direct or to disperse the perception of the spectators using the theory of the audio-vision proposed by Michel Chion.

Keywords: Raul Seixas. Audio-vision. Law. Legal knowledge.


O artigo, de alcance conceitual, tem por objeto a relação entre direito e música e imagens, e busca demonstrar de que forma a interconexão destes três elementos pode ser interpretada como veículo de contestação e luta social, a partir do exemplo de Raul Seixas. Visto que o artista compôs em uma época na qual o Direito era criado e imposto por figuras ditatoriais, compreendemos que em seu rock existem representações deste Direito, o que pode auxiliar a entender as relações políticas, jurídicas e sociais deste período. Todavia, quando pesquisadores de diferentes áreas se propõem a trabalhar com este tipo de documento, alguns elementos tendem a ser ignorados, como a melodia e os videoclipes dessas canções. O artigo, nesse sentido, irá apresentar uma forma de se utilizar a imagem, sons e letra, de forma a complementar sentidos e direcionar ou dispersar a percepção dos espectadores a partir da teoria da audiovisão proposta por Michel Chion.

Palavras-chave: Raul Seixas. Audiovisão. Direito. Conhecimento jurídico.

1 Introduction

Music, cultural artifact produced by and for certain social groups, is not a neutral production, isolated from the real. Apparently, the artist composes lyrics, songs and scores because of the way he relates to the environment in general, as well as because of his feelings. But music, besides being configured as an individual-cultural product, is also communication. Because of that, its language is composed by signs, signifiers and meanings. Music communicates by sound, rhythm, lyrics, arrangement, and also by the artist’s own performance.

As a cultural product and as communication, music seems to dialogue directly with its historical, political and social context. Thus, it can be understood as an interesting source of studies for the humanities and social sciences. In fact, areas such as History, Anthropology and Sociology, among others, have been studying the innumerable possibilities and perspectives of understanding the social from music. In the area of Law, however, the possible relations between music and society remain little explored - especially the interconnection between lyrics, melody and images, in the case of video clips.

For this reason, this paper tries to demonstrate how the Law appears in the song connected to the image. To do so, we chose the video clip of the song Cowboy fora da lei, by Raul Seixas. The choice of the video was due to the articulation between sound, image and word, capable of generating new senses, new impressions and new possibilities of interpretation to what was previously only heard. Raul’s choice was motivated by the artist’s success, considered one of the rock pioneers in Brazil, always irreverent and defiant of his time - the Brazilian dictatorial period. In relation to the song Cowboy fora da lei, it was selected for containing direct remission to the Law, and also because of the period in which it was written - 1985, year in which the Military Dictatorship gave its last sighs.

The work is structured as follows: initially, the methodology of analysis (the theory of audio-vision, proposed by Michel Chion) will be explained. Next, Raul and his music, as well as the period in which it was written, will be contextualized. Finally, the proposal of analysis will be presented

2 Audio-vision: general aspects

For Chion (1993), although audiovisual works emphasize the image, the sound cannot be forgotten. For the Author (1993, p. 10), “[…] movies, television and the audiovisual media in general are not just aimed to the eye. In their viewer - their ‘audio-spectator’ - they give rise to a specific perceptive attitude which, in this work, we propose to call the audiovisual.” (Translated)1.

Although image and sound are a complete whole, Chion (1993) states that is common to either ignoring the sound element, or understanding sound and image as isolated elements. The audio-vision, thus, goes deeper: it aims to demonstrate that the meanings and perceptions of the viewer are closely related to the sounds that appear in the audiovisual images. According to the Author (1993, p. 10), this occurs because “[…] one perception influences into other and transforms it: we do not ‘see’ the same thing that we ‘hear’; we do not ‘hear” the same thing that we ‘see”. (Translated)2.

It is important to note that when using the word sound, Chion (1993) refers to all the soundtrack component of the video; background music is not his only concern. Secondary noises, sound effects and voices also need to be analyzed, because they also help in the sense of the work. The author’s (1993) concern is therefore to demonstrate how the various sounds impact the meanings of the video, and how the context of the video also influences the perception of sounds.

Chion’s theory (1993) can be applied to different audiovisual works, such as cinema, sports programs and television. The video clips are not excluded, but the Author (1993, p. 128-129) warns us: “the image is not made here as an essential ingredient; it no longer presumes to be queen, the protagonist; it’s the surprise gift, but what a gift!” (Translated)3.

However, although the image is not the main protagonist of the video clips, its junction to the sound is capable of producing diverse effects and meanings. Chion says (1993, p. 129):

For in clips, that is, something visual placed on a song, everything can certainly be found, budgets and qualities, even sometimes things full of life and invention, in which the expressiveness of the drawing animated is combined with the carnal presence of the real image. A whole arsenal of procedures, a cheerful rhetoric of the image, can then be invented or found there. That is the paradox of the facultative image television: it releases the eyes. Television is never as visual as in those moments when it emits clips, when the image is added in it ostensibly to a music that already sufficed to itself.” (Translated)4.

Chion (1993) develops several concepts and strategies to analyze the relationship between sound and image in audiovisual works. Taking as a starting point the Cowboy Fora da Lei music video, the following concepts were used:

a) added values: understood by Chion (1993, p. 07) as:

[...] the expressive and informative value with which a sound enriches a given image, making believe, in the immediate impression this image has or evoking the memory that remains of it, that this information or this expression ‘Natural’ of what is seen, and is already contained in the single image. (Translated)5.

b) syncreses: for Chion (1993, p. 56) is the “Irresistible and spontaneous welding that occurs between a sound phenomenon and a momentary visual phenomenon when they coincide at the same time, independently of all rational logic” (Translated)6. It is basically the way the image evokes a sound and a sound evokes the image; an association made immediately by the spectator;

c) consistency of the soundtrack: According to Chion (1993, p. 145): “The way in which the different sound elements - voices, music, noises - are more or less included in the same global paste, a texture or, on the contrary, each heard in a very readable way” (Translated)7. For the Author (1993, p. 145) the consistency functions would be:

-of a general equilibrium of levels, in which they fight and struggle to access intelligibility, -of the greater or lesser presence of a reverberation, which can blur the sound contours and produce a kind of soft and unifying substance, which links the sounds together. - of the phenomena of mask, linked to the coexistence of diferente sounds in the same frequency registers.” (Translated)8.

To Chion (1993, p. 147), the questions “What do I see from what I hear? “What do I hear from what I see? (Translated).9“ would be crucial to understand this relationships;

d) sounds in the void: when the image is present, but the sound, absent; and

e) negative images: when the sound is present, but the image is absent.

Still from the chosen video clip, two strategies will be used in the next topic. The first is the Observation Procedure, which includes: (a) method of concealers, which consists of watching the video to be studied several times, without audio and without images, to then compare such perceptions with those obtained by watching the video integrated (with sound and image); and (b) forced marriage, which means, display the images, without audio, superimposed by different sounds; this procedure would be responsible for exposing the added values and syncreses.

The second strategy to be applied will be a model questionnaire. Chion (1993) recommends performing a kind of questionnaire in order to identify the relations between sound and image. For the Author, (1993, p. 145) questions like “There are words Music? Noises? Which is dominant and stands out? In what place?” (Translated)10 can help in: (a) search for dominances and description of sets: questioning the types of sound that appear in the video, such as voices, noises, or songs, makes possible to characterize the general appearance of the sound and the consistency of the entire soundtrack; (b) location of important points of synchronization, provided with meaning and effect; and (c) comparison, that is, how sound and image interact to create or reinforce new meanings and representations. This elemets assist in the perception of time, distance, subject and even definition. In the words of Chion (1993, p. 146):

For example, in the plane of speed: sound and image can have contrasted speeds, and this difference creates a subtle complementarity of rhythm. The same is true of the question of matter and definition: a hard and detailed sound can be combined with a partially blurred and imprecise image, or the reverse, which always produces an interesting effect. Naturally, this comparison can only be made by observing the two elements, sonically and visually, in a dissociated way, by the method of concealers. On the other hand, it is interesting to see how each element assumes its figurative and narrative part and how both are completed, contradicted or redundant in this plane. For example, in the question of distance and scales, the character being far in the picture and his voice coming, or vice versa. The image may be populated with narrative details and the sound may be sparse in sonorizations, or vice versa: an empty image and a copious sound. The contrasting combination of the two generally has a stronger evocative and expressive power, but, again, it will not be perceived consciously as such”. (Translated)11.

Important to mention the possibility of analyzing the relationship between sound and image from the technical comparison (the way camera movements integrate with sounds). Given these concepts and strategies, necessary to contextualize Raul Seixas and his song.

3 Raul Seixas: an outlaw cowboy

Singer, composer and music producer, Raul Seixas, according to Passos (1990), was born in Salvador, Bahia, in 1945. Son of a traditional middle-class family, the artist grew up in an austere environment, surrounded by literature since childhood, which led him to aspire to become a writer and philosopher - he wanted to write a treatise on metaphysics. Passos (1990) narrates that in 1957 the family moved of address, having by neighbor, the American consulate. Thus, Raul became friends with foreign children, gradually getting to know and love the rock’n’roll classics that emerged at that time.

According to Passos (1990), Raul became a great admirer of American rock, creating The Panthers group and performing at Cinema Roma in Salvador. Important to emphasize that at that time, rock was badly seen by society, being considered music of maids and truckers; the medium and high society listened bossa-nova, expressing their nationalism and considering the rockers a kind of entreguistas, people without love to the mother country. Passos (1990) recounts that although The Panthers recorded an album, it did not succeed, which made Raul later become a music producer. In this new profession, the artist had the basic learning to become, some years later, as the great name of the rock in Brazil.

Passos (1990) narrates that Raul Seixas, in the midst of a military dictatorship, was a staunch defender of the right to freedom and autonomy of the will, clearly singing “Faça o que tu queres pois é tudo da lei12(“Do whatever you want, it’s all legal”, in a free translation) and “Todo homem tem direito [...] de viver viajar sem passaporte, Direito de pensar de dizer e de escrever, Direito de viver pela sua própria lei, [...] Direito de amar, Como e com quem ele quiser” (“Every man has the right [...] to live and travel without a passport, the right to think and write, the right to live by his own law, the right to love, how and who he wishes”, in a free translation). As can be seen, the right to freedom is a recurring theme in Raul Seixas’ work, what was already object of a thesis by Amanda Oliveira (2016)13.

Important to note that Raul had, in his career of composer, important partnerships. Among them, Alves (1993) remembers the writer Paulo Coelho, who was responsible for introducing metaphysical concepts in Raul’s compositions. She (1993) also cites the partnership between Raul and Marcelo Motta, who was responsible for translate into portuguese a work of the english magician, Aleister Crowley, The Book of Law, titled Equinócio dos Deuses, in portuguese, today considered a rare book. Marcelo communed with the ideals of Thelema’s Law, the basis of Crowley’s doctrine.

Alves (1993) argues that these ideas were based on the thoughts of the aforementioned Crownley, whom many have pointed out as a Satanist14. For Alves (1993), Crowley preached the intimate relationship between individual will and magic, believing that when the human being was able to follow his true will, he could achieve unimaginable deeds. In his book, The Book of the Law, the magician chose as a maximum principle the Law of Thelema15, later sung by Raul Seixas, “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole law.”

However, the work of Raul Seixas is much more philosophical than mystical. “As we always emphasize, Raul always has very little of Mysticism or religion (only 10% of his work). And observe how deeply philosophical is a song like Maluco Beleza or Metamorfose Ambulante”. (Translated) (PASSOS; BUDA, 2000, p. 67)16. In summary, the ideas disseminated by Raul Seixas can be explained as follows:

Before the will of the individual there is the threat of ‘civilization’ that has created absolute laws that do not respect the integrity of man and want to impose a common will on all. This is the same as entering a shoe store and having the guy only sell one type of shoe, without respecting those with smaller feet. And if the chosen shoe does not fit on our feet, we are, in any case, forced to wear them. And we do wear. (ALVES, 1993, p. 45) (Translated)17.

Raul was against any imposition of the human will; he did not have the ambition to withdraw the military from government, but rather to criticize and denounce the lack of individual freedom present throughout the system.

Understanding some general aspects related to Raul and his work, it is necessary to contextualize the music to be analyzed. Composed in the 1980s, the period of national redemocratization, it is interesting to highlight the political changes that were taking place at this time.

According to Maria Helena Alves (2005, p. 332), it is in 1982 that the first direct elections will be held since 1965, covering the positions of city councilor, federal and state deputies, senator, governor and mayor, except in the capitals. However, this political openness was extremely limited: one of the limitations cited by Fausto (1995, p. 508) was the necessary linkage of the vote to the members of the same party, so votes in different parties would be invalid.

In addition, political openness was hampered by the so-called hard line of the military regime: Fausto (1995, p. 505) points to the occurrence of several terrorist attacks by military personnel belonging to this faction. According to Alves (2005, p. 335), internal disputes were only resolved in 1982, when the following agreement was signed within the army: “Those responsible for the terrorist attacks would not be prosecuted and tried; in turn, the hardliners would accept electoral politics and would no longer oppose the holding of elections in November 1982.” (Translated)18.

In 1983, the Partido dos Trabalhadores – PT (Worker’s Party), unite with other opposition parties and start the movement known as diretas já (claming for direct elections) which called for the possibility of direct elections also for the post of President of the Republic. According to Fausto (1995, p. 509):

The movement for the direct elections went beyond the party organizations, becoming a almost national unanimity. Millions of people filled the streets of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, with an enthusiasm rarely seen in the country. The ‘direct’ campaign already expressed both the vitality of the popular demonstration and the difficulty of the parties to express their demands. The population put all their hopes in the direct: the expectation of an authentic representation, but also the solution of many problems (low salary, security, inflation) that only the direct election of a president of the Republic could not solve”. (Translated)19.

Despite all the popular outcry, the 1985 presidential election was still held through indirect voting, thanks to the government’s control of the legislature, which made it impossible to amend the Constitution.

However, Fausto (1995, p. 511) states that “the choice of the government candidate [for the presidency] was no longer in 1984 by the military corporation, although the military had some weight in the decision.” (Translated).20“ In this way, Paulo Maluf is indicated as a candidate for the government, while the opposition launches Tancredo Neves.

José Sarney was chosen as vice, thanks to a maneuver by Partido da Frente Liberal (PFL), which gave its support to the Partido do Movimento Democrático Brasileiro (PMDB), once together they could make a stronger opposition. According to Faust (1995, p. 511), Sarney was seen with restrictions, having acted with the government, being elected as senator by Arena (government party), and becoming even president of that same party (later called Partido Democrático Social - PDS). For Fausto (1995, p. 511):

His name had little or nothing to do with the banner of democratization raised by the PMDB. But the Liberal Front closed Sarney’s question and the PMDB relented. No one could imagine, in 1984, the scope of that decision. (Translated)21.

Thus, in 1985 Tancredo is elected president through indirect voting. According to Fausto (1995, p. 512): “By complicated paths and using the electoral system imposed by the authoritarian regime, the opposition came to power.” (Translated).22

However, in 1985, Tancredo fell ill and died in April of the same year, before governing. His death was the subject of several speculations and conspiracy theories, and some believe that he was, in fact, murdered by the military, who would have interest in making Sarney president23.

It is in this context that the song Cowboy Fora da Lei is composed. According to Blank and Santos (2013, p. 09):

The song Cowboy Fora da Lei was written by Raul Seixas in 1985, after the end of movement for direct elections (diretas já). Following the same line of other songs previously mentioned, Raul added to the lyrics of Cowboy Fora da Lei a severe criticism of the situation in that the country arrived with the mobilization and situation practically of public calamity, remembering the old American West. The song was released only two years after being composed on the album Uah-Bap-Lu-Bap-Lah-Béin-Bum!, which began to be produced by the Copacabana label in 1986, but due to Raul’s hospitalizations for treatment against alcoholism, the album was not ready until 1987. (Translated)24.

It should be noted that Raul seemed to believe in the hypothesis of murder in relation to Tancredo Neves, according to interview in the Programa do Bolinha in 198725, a popular TV show in Brazil: “Tancredo Neves, John Lennon, these people die for nothing. And I do not want to be mayor, I do not want to be elected, because they can come and exterminating us, shooting our heads.” (Translated).26

In this way, the song is inserted in the struggle against the dictatorial regime, in the years it lost its force, in a return to democracy; what is perceived, however, is a tired, disbelieving and especially distrustful Raul after the sudden death of the president-elect. Hard criticisms of that time can be found from the lyrics of the song, but not only; the music clip, which integrates sound, text and image, also appears as a promising source of analysis, as will be demonstrated in the next topic.

4 Analysis of the video “Cowboy fora da Lei”

Before the analysis, it is necessary to understand the title of the song. According to Blank and Santos (2013, p. 10):

The title of the song refers to a cowboy, a figure reminiscent of the American cowboys who lived in the old west and were known precisely for breaking the laws and being persecuted by the sheriffs of the cities. In the case of the song, the cowboy would be Raul himself, considered a severe critic of the current political regime and persecuted by the Brazilian Federal Police. (Translated)27.

We agree with this interpretation of the word Cowboy, as a rebel always averse to the laws established by the current political system - a characteristic that fits well with the figure of Raul Seixas.

Regarding the video clip, we started by applying the Observation Procedure in the outlaw Cowboy clip, as mentioned in item 1 of this article. The strategy was divided into three moments:

    a. the clip without sound: it is possible to observe a strong sense of humor, due to a drunk Raul Seixas, to the fight scenes in fast motion and also to absurd feats performed by the characters (for example, one of them make a shot hits a bell and then hits the target). We could not help noticing that the Saloon has been portrayed as a place of romantic encounters; the image of the gross male able to have in your arms any woman can be easily found (even if the woman says no);

    b. the clip watched with the song Tombstone City, from Matanza: our choice for this song was motivated by the fact that it evokes an old west wrapped in chaos, both in lyrics and melody – Matanza is a hardcore band. In this song, the old west is a place of chaos and confusion and it is necessary fight to survive. In this sense, Raul’s entry into the bar became serious, emitting an idea of existentialist reflection. The struggles, though comic by the camera effect, became apparently more violent. It is possible to perceive a harmony between the guitar of the music and the scenes in which Raul is focused, playing his guitar; and

    c. the clip watched with the original soung: the comic character was reinforced, and we could be more concentrated on details not previously observed, for example the end of the clip reveal that it was all imaginated by a comic book reader , in a modern room, and that this reader is not Raul; it has also drawn our attention to the fact that the comic book has the inscription “Há 400 anos” (400 years ago), which could mean that the story contained therein actually took place.

Analyzing the video clip, scene by scene, we could perceive the inexistence of dialogues between the characters - which is not to say that there is complete absence of the element voice. We understand that the voices, in this case, are replaced in large part by the lyrics themselves. In this way, the articulation between letter, sound and image, will be demonstrated, especially with regard to the representations of a kind of law.

The clip begins with a different song, beore tha the main track (Cowboy fora da lei), which refers to a western, serious and somber imaginary. This is the song of Enio Moricone for the western movie The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. In the images, Raul enters into a Saloon, apparently drunk, which generates a certain comedy to the scene, despite the music. In the Saloon, some people play cards and others talk, without paying any attention to Raul’s presence. He appears as a typical outsider, looking for another shot of whiskey, and it’s only the moment he signals to the bar attendant that he wants another drink, after a loud and emphatic rap on the bar, that Cowboy fora da lei starts playingwith its cheerful tone, irreverent and with a comic tone, completely different from the previous song.

During the introduction of the song, the drink is served to Raul, who happens to observe the people of the Saloon. As the first character to appear is Raul, and as he is the center of attention of the camera in these early moments, he can be unserstood as the protagonist of the plot shown in the clip, fact that is deconstructed after a few minutes thanks the articulation of the lyrics, soundtrack and images, as will be demonstrated.

Raul soon notices a beautiful dancer on stage, and several couples kissing. In contrast, an old man spits on the floor. The sound effect that accompany the act reforces the attitude as more inconvenient and noisy than it would be without the sound, making it denser and changing its matter and setting, as Chion (1993) argues that may occur. In the sequence, part of the horse’s face are shown, accompanied by a neighing. There is no way to say whether the noise comes from the animal displayed (probably not coming), but the effect on the viewer is that the scene’s own horse neighs - even though we can only see part of his face. It is a point of synchronization, which makes clear the principle of syncrese delineated by Chion (1993) as responsible for relating immediately what we see and what we hear.

It is only after neighing that the lyrics of the song emerge. Simultaneously to the first three verses, we have a close up on the face of Raul Seixas, in a scenario outside the Saloon. He sings:

Mamãe não quero ser prefeito

Pode ser que eu seja eleito

E alguém pode querer me assassinar28

Soon after the word assassinar (murder), the image shows the interior of the Saloon, in which a man on horseback enters, firing. This desire not to be mayor is directly linked to the fear of being murdered. Only important people are targeted by murderers, and that is exactly what Raul is avoiding. Note that he is far from the shots fired at the Saloon, precisely because he is not a mayor, or an important figure. Blank and Santos (2013, p. 11) further this interpretation:

[...] changing the word mayor by the word president is clear the relation with the death of Tancredo Neves that, according to people close to the former President, would have been poisoned by members of the Dictatorship so that he could not assume the Presidency. Raul probably opted for the word ‘mayor’ because in the Old West that was the highest authority of the city. Raul’s conclusion in these verses refers to thirdness, something tangible and decisive, action and reaction in relation to the conceptualized proposal, the fact that he does not want to be President because he could be assassinated.”29.

Taking into account that Tancredo Neves died in the same year that the song was composed, the interpretation seems plausible. Raul repudiates political power for fear of his own life and indirectly repudiates legal power: at a time when laws emanated from an arbitrary executive, it is the “mayor” who dictates the rules to be followed. Although such a hypothesis is plausible, we understand that the word mayor refers to every citizen willing to take a political office, in which he will have to face the adversities typical of the political system itself.

The bullet sounds appear again as syncrese and as sounds in the void, since despite the sound we can not see the bullets. The people inside the Saloon run terrified, and there is a sound effect that evokes humor. The camera returns to Raul in an external setting, playing a guitar, characterized as a cowboy, among horses and corrals. He sings:

Eu não preciso ler jornais

Mentir sozinho eu sou capaz

Não quero ir de encontro ao azar30

In these verses is clear the distrust of the singer in relation to the press. We interpret these verses as follows: media is responsible for choosing notorious figures, as mayors and heroes, as persons worthy of respect and worship. But Raul is aware of the implications of being someone important and therefore does not believe in this construction of idols; being an icon is going against chance, what means, becoming a target.

Blanka and Santos proposes a differentiated but also relevant interpretation:

[...]media attempted to cover up the manifestations, showing little or no reference to them in newspapers and other media. Also, at the time of the Military Dictatorship, newspaper columnists had their articles censored and in the place destined to them in the periodicals were put cake recipes. At this point the word lie is worth mentioning, which does not refer to which specific lie the author would be able to tell, but which refers to a certain type of lie (the one contained in the newspapers)”. (Translated).31.

Sung the verses, the camera returns to the interior of the Saloon, where a beautiful dancer draws the attention of the male audience. Three men are focused by the camera; one of them nods, other climbs on the stage where the dancer is and strips her by force. It is the actor Wilson Gray, who specializes in marginal and sinister characters, but always with a sharp comic vein. Notably, it is a representation of a macho imaginary, according to which a dancer does not even have the subjective right to deny a male company, being there more as an object capable of granting wishes than a subject of law, capable of emanating will and doing their own choices. In other words, the dancer is outside the legal system.

There are no secondary sounds, which may make this scene more like a comic or even unimportant element. But the music tracks; he continues, with Raul singing:

Papai não quero provar nada

Eu já servi à Pátria amada

E todo mundo cobra minha luz32

Again Raul repudiates any act of notoriety, saying that he has served the beloved homeland, that is, he has already fulfilled his obligation, although people still continue to demand that he take the position of an idol, hero or important figure. Blanka and Santos (2013, p. 12) relate the word luz (light) to wisdom, as if fans demanded that Raul continue to write protest songs as a way of challenging the political system.

In the Saloon, the dancer is kissed by one of her attackers, and quickly thrown to the ground under the eyes of some spectators at the bar. Again she is shown as an object to be discarded after serving its purpose, and not as a human being. Again there are no secondary sound effects.

One of the men in the bar puts his hand in the holster and pulls out his gun, the noise of which comes out. His intention is to hit one of the aggressors of the girl, but he quickly notices the movement and shoots first on a bell, which reflects the shot and hits the man who intended to shoot and another who was close to him. The man tries to “play the hero” and is shot; is this type of attitude that attracts misfortunes, as sung by Raul. It is interesting to note that this is the only shot whose image appears clear to the viewer. Raul is still not being shown, but his voice resounds:

Oh, coitado, foi tão cedo

Deus me livre, eu tenho medo

Morrer dependurado numa cruz33

Making a direct reference to the figure of Jesus Christ, Raul reveals that he does not pretend to be a martyr or messiah to be followed and idolized and is not willing to make sacrifices. Blanka and Santos (2013) relate the word coitado (poor) to Tancredo Neves, hope of democracy, that would have died so soon. Because of his death, the hope of modifying the political scene and thus modifying the Law, vanishes.

The shot men are lying on the floor, next to a pianist who plays, although the sound of his instrument does not appear. The piano and the pianist form what Chion (1993) calls the negative image, because although they are present visually, there is no sound record.

In this scene begins the refrain of the song and the camera quickly focus on Raul, who plays his guitar enthusiastically on a stage. Soon, the camera reveals that Raul is also on a card table, betting money on the man who had shot the other two. The face of people around reveals tension and concern for the game, as if something important is about to happen. The camera then returns to show Raul on the stage, playing his guitar. It is interesting to highlight the presence of another sound in the void at this moment, as the music continues to play while Raul’s hands do not play the guitar. Here is the lyrics of the chorus that packs the whole scene:

Eu não sou besta pra tirar onda de herói

Sou vacinado, eu sou cowboy

Cowboy fora da lei

Durango Kid34 só existe no gibi

E quem quiser que fique aqui

Entrar pra história é com vocês35

Here the central element of the analysis is presentd, the perspective of Law sung by Raul. Following his thought, he says he is not idiot to “play the hero”, precisely because he knows the implications and complications involved in such an act. He is an outlaw cowboy: he repudiates both the moral law that requires us to save the others risking ourselves, and the law in the legal sense, because he does not want to be conformed to the dictatorial system, that controlled the laws of the time, being prefeito (mayor). For Pereira (2010, p. 10), this is a strong indication of his identification with anarchism: “The desire to be a politician is not part of the anarchist theory, after all, for them, ‘All property is a robbery’. The young people who joined the counterculture movement did not want political power, but individual power.” (Translated)36. But for Blank and Santos (2013, p. 10)

It is possible to argue that the word law presented in the title is a divergent concept in the society for which it was composed. Since in the time of the Military Regime, the real meaning of the word was distorted and turned to the interests of the military, as in Institutional Act No. 5, known as AI5, which allowed the President of the Republic to adopt measures appropriate to the State of Siege. (Translated).37

In this way, we understand that Raul declares himself an outlaw in the sense of this law imposed by the military regime; this system with which he did not agree and with which he did not want to be included neither as a hero or obeying the laws imposed, contrary to his will and his anarchist thought.

When the verse entrar pra história é com vocês (making history is with you) is sung, Raul points to the pianist who is next to him, as if speaking directly with him. Raul does not want to be neither leader nor icon, leaving this role to anyone who is interested.

Blanka and Santos (2013, p. 13) add pertinent perspectives to the interpretation of the refrain:

At the end of the song Raul recognizes that he does not intend to become a hero, even though he is a person outside the rules determined by the Military Regime, and also states that heroes only exist in comic books, leaving this role to anyone who wants. Since Raul wrote this song when he was already in a state of depression and discredited of his ideals, this verse can be analyzed as a withdrawal. The singer tired of trying to be a hero and delegated this function to become a historical character to whom it pleased. (Translated).38

Sung the chorus, the song starts a solo, keeping the country / western rhythm. Back at the card table, Grey, who was playing against Raul stands up, exalted; the people around him scream and run and Raul gets up too. On the main soundtrack, Raul speaks “vamo entrar pra história, pessoal” (Let’s make history, guys). This phrase is fully articulated with what happens in the scene, since it is the only moment in which Raul acts like a hero, facing his rival: an attempt to change his situation of victim, to fight back the attack of the tyrant.

The scene shows a typical western duel scene, interspersed with a couple kissing in another location in the Saloon. Gray shoots and his shot hits just the hat of the boy who kissed the girl; Raul also shoots, and his shot hits the hat of a guy who drank a dose, quiet, in the bar of the Saloon. Several hats are hit all over the place by the shots fired by the duelists, each shot accompanied by a comic noise. Soon a fight begins without apparent reason, in fast motion, which reinforces the humoristic character of the plot. Everyone is exchanging punches and kicks; chairs and bottles are broken, women run, men are thrown, and on the main trail Raul sings a significant scream, as if he likes the confusion that develops there.

The song starts over, from the first stanza, and again Raul is shown in an environment outside the Saloon, quietly singing:

Mamãe não quero ser prefeito

Pode ser que eu seja eleito

E alguém pode querer me assassinar39

Note that Raul is already far away from the Saloon, far from the fight, because after all he has no intention of being hero. It is interesting that the guitar accompanies him again, but this time he does not play it, although the song continues to play - another sound in the void. It’s as if he no longer cares about the song at all; what matters is that he is nobody important, is not in the sights of anyone, and that brings him some comfort.

His images are alternated with the Saloon, still wrapped in chaos; out there, in the external scenario, Raul goes on singing:

Eu não preciso ler jornais

Mentir sozinho eu sou capaz

Não quero ir de encontro ao azar

Papai não quero provar nada

Eu já servi à Pátria amada

E todo mundo cobra minha luz

Oh, coitado, foi tão cedo

Deus me livre, eu tenho medo

Morrer dependurado numa cruz40

In the verses “Deus me livre, eu tenho medo / Morrer dependurado numa cruz” (God forbid, I’m afraid / To die hanging on a cross), Raul takes off his cowboy hat and puts it on his chest, as a sign of respect when speaking in deities, but at the same time with a tone of an ironic voice, which causes sarcasm; let us remember that the word coitado (poor) refers to Tancredo Neves, and for this reason we believe that the ironic tone is a way of making fun of his innocence or of who really believed that he would come to power.

At the beginning of the chorus, the camera returns to the bar and we find that there, the only one still standing is Wilson Grey who played cards with Raul. He takes a sip of drink in a bottle and slowly leaves the Saloon. The images alternate with Raul on the outside scene, this time making ironic poses and smiles, as if mocking Grey’s victory.

After all, Grey has become a hero, leader, prefect: he has the whole responsibility, and he has to act according to the Law, often sacrificing personal interests and subjecting himself to morality (for a hero must act according to certain rules of conduct), political power and legal power. He will make the laws, but it’s no use if there is no one to obey them (the other characters in the Saloon are apparently dead and Raul himself is already far away). Raul sings:

Eu não sou besta pra tirar onda de herói

Sou vacinado, eu sou cowboy

Cowboy fora da lei

Durango Kid só existe no gibi

E quem quiser que fique aqui

Entrar pra história é com vocês41

When the verses “Durango Kid só existe no gibi / E quem quiser que fique aqui / Entrar pra história é com vocês” (Durango Kid exists only in the comic / And whoever wants, stay here / Making history is with you) are sung, we realize that the image changes and Raul is framed inside a comic book, which is being read by someone.

The music continues as the camera moves away, and we discover that the whole vídeo is nothing but Grey’s imagination. He was lying in his bedroom, whose decoration refers to a more current era (probably 80’s), reading a Tex Willer42 comic book. Because he is the one who dreams with adventures, it is he, not Raul, the protagonist of the plot; this allied, of course, to the fact that Raul repudiates all the time the figure of the hero, submitted to moral and legal laws.

5 Conclusion

The media works are closely related to the time when they were created. Sometimes used to conform, sometimes to criticize, it can not be ignored that they are direct fruits of their environment, reason why they bring in their bosom the discussions that permeate the society of its time and space. Films, magazines, games and various media appear as interesting sources for working the social element.

Music is not different. Marked by melody and sonority, the songs are capable of transmitting wishes, desires and nonconformities in a direct and simple way, capturing the listening of the audiences that interact with it. Associated with the image, then, messages gains strength and reach, arousing the attention of our sight and hearing.

Several areas of the human and social sciences have already been attentive to the need to understand and analyze music, image and even the video clip as a document, in order to identify ruptures, permanences, demands, influences with the public and their diverse social representations. Anthropology, History, Literature and Sociology, just to mention a few, already have vast experience in this type of research.

In Law, it is a subject little explored. Works in Law and Literature can already be found easily, although always from a scholarly bias. What to say about other cultural productions, like the clips. Thus, the present work sought to show how the law appears in the most unusual media.

Based on the theory of audiovision, coined by Michel Chion, it was possible to understand that not only the lyrics but also the image and sounds present in videos are responsible for providing different meanings and interpretations. Thus, choosing Raul Seixas’s Cowboy Fora da Lei video as a source for analysis, we analyzed what the artist understood by law: something imposed, responsible for harming the individuality of human being, and worthy of being violated, after all who live according to this “Law”, assumes for itself duties and obligations that serve nothing, unless it is the target of violence and mockery.

Influenced by Crowley’s mysticism and countercultural anarchism, opposing any form of oppression, Raul sees the law as another tool limiting human individuality. This perception can be linked to the political context in which Raul lived, that is, the dictatorial period, but more than that.

Raul, as a countercultural anarchist, divergent from the classical current of anarchism, even in a democracy would see the laws as a form of standardization and imposition. Not by chance he considers himself an outlaw: it is only far from the state rules that he, as subject, can exercise his individuality, denying pre-established positions and respecting his desires, as a true cowboy.


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Revista Brasileira de Direito, Passo Fundo, vol. 14, n. 1, p. 275-296, Jan.-Abr., 2018 - ISSN 2238-0604

[Guest article | Artigo convidado]

DOI: https://doi.org/10.18256/2238-0604.2018.v14i1.2309

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