Sep 7, 2007


Telenovelas are a perfect place to study the links between media, culture and society. That is one of the reasons why in the last few years they have been the preferred site of my research.

This week Venezuela saw the premiere of telenovela Arroz con Leche, written by Doris Seguí, who has worked for many years as a writer for Leonardo Padrón and Mónica Montañez, among other authors. I consider Doris Venezuela's best dialoguista (team writer), and it was due time that she authored her own telenovela.

Every time I read the title of a telenovela, I ponder the connections between that name and the society and culture that produced it. Arroz con Leche has brought to mind that Venezuelan women grow up singing and/or listening to two melodies that may be leaving their footprints on who we are or want to be:

The musical theme of the Miss Venezuela beauty pageant:
En una noche tan linda como ésta,
cualquiera de nosotras podría triunfar
Ser coronada Miss Venezuela
y el mundo así conquistar

In an evening as pretty as this one,
anyone of us could triumph
Be crowned as Miss Venezuela
and in that way conquer the world

And...Arroz con Leche:
Arroz con leche
me quiero casar
con una señorita de la capital
Que sepa coser
que sepa bordar
que ponga la mesa en su santo lugar.

Arroz con leche (Rice pudding)
I'd like to get maried
to a young girl from the capital
Who knows how to sew,
who knows how to embroider
who's able to set the table in its rightful place

Two songs that underscore some of the cultural mandates that Venezuelan women face: physical beauty as a requirement, marriage as the goal, and the domestic quality of the parameters that underpin women's sociocultural value.

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