I just came back from a month long trip to Southern Brazil. It was my first time in the South, I've visited basically all major regions of Brazil now.
The South is, with the exception of Porto Alegre, as safe as any small town in Argentina or Chile. Comparable to Europe. Curitiba and Florianopolis especially were impressive. Completely clean. There are many people that look like they could be from Germany, Poland or some other Central Europe place.
If you want to see funny stuff then go to Blumenau and Pomerode and eat Schnitzel.
Porto Alegre looks completely abandoned outside of the small historic center and I was warned that you should take more care there. The people there seem to live in the suburbs with absurdly large shopping centers. >>2148176
Middle class Brazilians hate themselves and their country so you can never take their opinions seriously. They spend the entire day watching crime stories on Globo. Sao Paulo has lower homicide rates than New York City. It's mostly Italian looking people as that's where their immigrants were from.