Rio de Janeiro is just asking for a Grand Theft Auto remake. A large gap between the rich and the poor, abundance of foreign tourists, thriving drug trade and pervasive police corruption due to low wages combine to create a petri dish for criminal activities. But don’t take my word for it, check out these excerpts from the Overseas Security Advisory Council… they make it sound like the acts common in a GTA game are actually commonplace in Brazil’s second largest city:
“The criminal threat for Rio de Janeiro is rated Critical by the U.S. Department of State. The Brazilian police, as well as the Brazilian press, report that crime has continued to increase. Violent crimes such as murder, rape, kidnapping, carjacking, armed assault, and burglary are becoming a normal part of everyday life.”
“The drug gangs control and serve as parallel governments in many of the poor areas of the city, known as favelas. The drug gangs are obtaining increasingly sophisticated weapons and are demonstrating a willingness to use them in order to maintain control of the areas they occupy.”
But the best reason Rio would be a perfect backdrop for GTA V is the city’s natural beauty. White sand beaches, wooded hills jutting out of the skyline… and don’t forget the curvey, tan, near-naked women that populate the beaches. Rio has a number of world-recognized monuments, including Copacobana and Ipanema beaches, the cable cars at Suger Loaf Hill, and the gigantic Christ the Redemer statue on top of Corcovado Mountain.
Rio is a modern city that blends modernity and nature. It is not unusual to look out of the window of a skyrise apartment building to see monkeys playing in the trees.
But the beauty of the tourist areas are balanced by the grunginess of the favelas. 25% of Cariocas (citizens of Rio) live in these favelas, which are shanty towns built by displaced citizenry extending up the steep hills that frame the city. These areas can be very violent and dangerous as different gangs battle for control. The gangs have pretty much free reign inside the favela, sending their younger members to the entrances to fly kites to warn others of police attempting to enter the neighborhood. And the police only try to enter the favela if part of a large task force armed to the teeth. To emphasize, here’s a photoessay on life in the favelas from the Washington Post.
Watch City of God, a 2002 film based on a true story about gang violence in Rio that is probably the best mafia-type movie since the Godfather II. Watch a trailer here. The film won the Toronto, Southeastern, Las Vegas, Chicago and New York Film Critic Association Awards for best foreign language film and was nominated for four academy awards.
Rio would be a beautiful environment for the GTA series, and a perfect contrast to the excessive grey of the concrete jungle of Liberty City in GTA IV. The prevalence of crime in everyday citizens’ lives means Rockstar can use the political, cultural and social backdrop of Rio to weave together an engaging and realistic crime drama.
Tags: grand theft auto