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Brazil-themed Google Doodle draws mix of criticism and praise

Google aims to celebrate Rio's rich art scene; BuzzFeed and Ken Jennings do not approve.

By Matt Bradwell
Brazil-themed Google Doodle draws mix of criticism and praise
The Google logo. UPI/Robert Galbraith/Pool | License Photo

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., June 18 (UPI) -- Wednesday's Google Doodle depicts a cartoon favela, a decision meant to celebrate Brazilian culture that has drawn some criticism for idealizing poverty.

Continuing its theme of changing the logo on its landing page daily to celebrate World Cup competitors, the Doodle is a brightly colored two-dimensional picture of what is supposed to be one of Brazil's infamous slums, with a modified Google logo worked into the focal point. The "l" in Google is kicking a soccer ball alone against a wall formed by the "e."

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Google said it drew "inspiration from the streets of Rio straight to the homepage," and many are praising the Internet giant for bringing attention to the issues and culture of Brazil.

"Brazil is one of the most economically unequal countries in the world, with a tenth of its citizens earning half of the national income," British media outlet The Independent noted. "In 2010, six per cent of the population, or 11.4 million people, were registered as living in slums while 8.5 per cent of people in the country are believed to be living below the poverty line."

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Despite its jarring wealth inequality, Rio de Janeiro has emerged a cultural hub, specifically for the global hip-hop and street art communities. Brazil decriminalized street art in 2009, attracting artists from around the globe.

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But Google is not free of its critics, as some feel the artwork unfairly glosses over the problems of violence and starvation that face Brazil's slums. BuzzFeed published a scathing, characteristically brief, takedown of the decision to portray a favela, aggregating tweets from those offended and bluntly itemizing the issues facing Brazil's poor.

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