Thursday. 21/10/2021

The Monocle Minute

Column / Fernando Augusto Pacheco

Good clean fun

For a telenovela aficionado like me, leaving Brazil wasn’t easy. Watching the country’s scandalous soap operas has always been difficult in the UK: a choice between grainy Youtube clips, DVDs posted from home or expensive, byzantine subscription services. That is until last week, when Brazil’s largest streamer, Globoplay, finally launched in Europe and Canada.

Alongside more than 20 million Brazilian subscribers, I now have access to TV Globo, which shows all of the most popular soap operas, and 10 other channels from the group featuring not only drama but also documentaries, comedy and Brazilian music programmes.

This most recent international expansion follows a launch in the US last year, meaning that Globoplay has grown exponentially since it appeared in 2015. Profits increased by 68 per cent in the second quarter of this year. The company is Brazil’s largest streaming service and was forced to step up its game after Netflix began making serious inroads into its home market, with the American giant even poaching well-known telenovela actors.

But I’ll leave the real-life ratings drama to them, as for now I’m more than content with full access to my favourite soaps and programmes. The archive is a particular treat, from the iconic Tieta to Vale Tudo, one of the most visually arresting soaps of all time and a superb whodunnit. In the 1980s, Brazil didn’t care about JR. Instead, the whole country stopped to ask, “Who killed Odete Roitman?” Want a more current recommendation? The second series of Verdades Secretas (pictured) premiered yesterday and all I can say is that if the one-minute teaser with a Blondie soundtrack was anything to go by, it’s even more over-the-top than the first.

Image: Shutterstock

Geopolitics / North Korea

Up in arms

North Korea is celebrating its latest provocative move: Pyongyang confirmed that it has successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile for the first time in two years. The country’s test came hours after a meeting of envoys on North Korea gathered in Washington to discuss the hermit nation’s advancing nuclear capabilities. UN rules prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons but its state media reported that the missile launched into the Sea of Japan on Tuesday had “advanced control guidance technologies”, meaning that it can travel faster and is harder to track. As Western leaders scrambled to respond to Pyongyang’s latest show of force, they also learnt that China has ramped up its intimidation of Taiwan by testing a new hypersonic missile. Reports of a trial earlier this year are said to have caught the US by surprise this week, although Beijing has not confirmed having fired a nuclear-capable missile. Though Beijing and Pyongyang have differing approaches, Western leaders will be worried that a new global arms race is well underway.

Image: Alamy

Politics / Canada

Diverse solutions

Two of Canada’s largest cities elected new mayors earlier this week and, in both cases, the winning candidates marked historic firsts. In Calgary, Canada’s fourth-largest city, Jyoti Gondek became the first woman – and the first woman of colour – to be elected mayor. Meanwhile in Edmonton, the fifth-largest, Amarjeet Sohi (pictured), a former city bus driver, became the first person of colour to be elected to lead city hall. Both candidates were vying to replace long-serving and popular incumbents.

Calgary’s Naheed Nenshi, who became the first Muslim mayor of a major North American city 11 years ago, and Don Iveson in Edmonton; both opted not to seek additional terms in office. Each election marks the potential start of a new chapter for the two Alberta cities at a time of profound challenges. Their priorities will be tackling a fourth wave of coronavirus infections and diversifying their respective urban economies, which were badly hit by the tumult in the province’s oil and gas sectors.

Media / UK

Changing the channel

The BBC has become the latest British institution to update its logo in an effort to consolidate its brand. Slick new emblems appeared yesterday across its TV channels, on-demand service iPlayer and audio app BBC Sounds. Though the cost has been called into question, the UK’s national broadcaster believes that it was high time for a refresh.

“How the BBC provides its services has changed dramatically in the past 20 years,” said Kerris Bright, its chief customer officer. “Our research tells us that audiences think some of our services look out of date.” A bespoke font, BBC Reith, will help to offset the cost as it replaces the Gill Sans typeface that the corporation has leased on an annual basis for 24 years. All BBC services will soon follow suit, including Weather, News and Sport, with their individual logos featuring coloured iterations of three signature blocks. Time will tell how these new national icons fare.

Work / Japan

Liquid assets

This week, one of Japan’s oldest alcoholic drink manufacturers, Suntory Beverage & Food, unveiled a vending machine designed to liven up quiet workplaces in the country. Those who have watched a lot of James Bond films might recognise its interface, which can only be activated by two people together. If you and a colleague simultaneously scan your ID cards on the machine, you’ll receive two free beverages of your choice. Face-to-face interaction at the office has been massively affected by the pandemic, with those not working from home often having to keep their distance inside the workplace. The Japanese drinks giant hopes that free beverages might provide a refreshing antidote for the desocialised. Japan has a long history of “nominication” (nomi meaning “drink” + “communication”) at work, which describes salarymen and -women using the power of alcohol to break the ice with colleagues or do business with clients. Starting in the Greater Tokyo area, Suntory is aiming to introduce the machine across 100 companies next year. It’s “Suntory Time!”

Image: Shutterstock

M24 / Explainer

Trying to Trump the legal system

Earlier this month, Joe Biden allowed the US National Archives to grant access to the first batch of documents requested by the House Committee investigating January’s Capitol riots. Donald Trump has responded with a lawsuit to suppress these documents, citing executive privilege. Andrew Mueller explains what success this might have outside the courtroom.

Monocle Films / Global

Tailoring’s youthful refit

They might not fit the archetype of the high-end tailor but a new generation of smart young outfitters are now at the cutting edge of bespoke menswear. We get the measure of four such craftsmen in London, Berlin, Hong Kong and Perugia.

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