RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
A recent New York Times survey on cultural literacy suggests that the vast majority of people have ‘no freakin’ clue’ who sits atop Corcovado Mountain in Rio de Janeiro. The survey showed participants pictures of famous monuments around the world and while people were easily able to name each of the men on Mount Rushmore, for example, or rattle off all of the 150 first Pokemon, few could correctly identify the man in a white robe with out-stretched arms in Rio de Janeiro.
Representatives of the Catholic Church in Brazil are hoping this will change during the 2016 Rio Games as unprecedented international media coverage draws attention to the founder of the Christian faith. They may be in luck, because just days into the Olympics, #thebigstatueinrio is now trending on Twitter.
“Just before they cut to commercial, every single news agency in the world shows the same iconic shot of the Rio landscape, but most viewers these days really have no clue who that guy is,” said Geraldo Barroso, a spokesperson for Google Brazil, “so people are consulting Google to find out. ‘Who is the guy in the Rio statue?’ is now among the most-searched phrases on the Internet.”
Built by Paul Landowski and Heitor da Silva Costa in 1931, the art deco statue known as Christ the Redeemer sits atop Corcovado Mountain overlooking the sprawling coastal city. Given the massive decline in media coverage of religion over the last eight decades, few 21st century people could identify the iconic figure.
“I keep having to explain to people that ‘Jesus Cristo’ was not the first President of Brazil, or a famous 19th century poet, or a star forward for Botafogo,” said Barroso. “In fact, he’s not even Brazilian at all.”
Upon learning they’d have to compete under the arms of Jesus, a small contingent of atheist athletes decided to drop out of the competition and spend the rest of the time drinking caipirinhas on Copacabana beach.