After two weeks of readings and discussion regarding telenovela consumption and reception, it's my students' turn to do class presentations regarding this topic. The assignment was pretty open:
Prepare a 10-minute presentation regarding telenovela consumption. Focus on a particular telenovela, country or target audience. To prepare, you can conduct interviews, informal surveys, and/or examine blogs, message boards and social media. Any approach is valid as long as the presentation is located under the large umbrella of "Telenovela consumption".
And my students have been great. The variety of topics and findings is really fascinating. Hence, I've decided to share them via this blog in a series of posts meant to show telenovela consumption from an unusual viewpoint: the U.S.
(Due to space concerns, I will only share some of their presentation slides).
Presenter: Ashleigh Speir
Topic: The consumption of Rubí
Sources: Internet message boards
Objective: To explore how the audience read Rubí's behavior and ending.
Findings and conclusions: Given Rubí's behavior, Ashleigh expected a negative reading of her character. She was surprised to find that two thirds of the posted messages that she analyzed suggested a positive reception of Rubí, and expressed a desired that the character would have had a happy end.
My thoughts: Rubí's case seems to indicate that when two of the strongest telenovela codes are in conflict (the protagonists' happy end and the principle of crime and punishment), the first code dominates, if the evildoer happens to be the protagonist.
Presenter: Lauren Kowan
Topic: The consumption of Pasión de Gavilanes
Sources: www.terra.com, www.serials.ru, www.publispain.com
Objective: To understand the international reception of Pasión de Gavilanes
Findings and conclusions: With the notable exception of Brazil, Pasión de Gavilanes was an unqualified success in every country where it aired. People from nations as different as Croatia, Israel, Spain and Argentina expressed a marked preference for this telenovela. An important factor in its success was the physical beauty and sex appeal of the three male protagonists (Mario Cimarro, Juan Alfonso Baptista and Michel Brown), and the character Rosario, interpreted by Zharick León. There were audience members who complained about the Mexican overtones, (the music, tequila consumption, some supporting actors' accents) of this televenovela that was supposed to take place in Colombia, where it was taped.
My thoughts: What should be more important in a telenovela? The actors' physical beauty or their talent? The readings of Pasión de Gavilanes that Lauren found suggest the dominance of beauty. And this is the criterion generally used when protagonists are chosen. It's a pity that sometimes the talent and trajectory of actors isn't valued becaus of this emphasis on the physique. There's also the question of why this telenovela didn't work in Brazil, where its broadcast was suspended after 60 episodes. Was this precisely because of the emphasis on beauty? Or was it something in the story that didn't "hook" Brazilians?
Presenter: Tia Capps
Topic: The audience and Pasión de Gavilanes
Sources: Message boards, blogs, chatrooms, Youtube, Facebook
Objective: To use the Internet to understand the reception patterns of the telenovela Pasión de Gavilanes.
Findings and conclusions:
1.-The main love story, Juan (Mario Cimarro) and Norma, (Danna García) was eclipsed by the other two love stories--Oscar (Juan Alfonso Baptista) and Jimena (Paola Rey), Franco (Michel Brown) and Sarita (Natasha Klaus).
2.-A popularity battle is established between the last two couples and their storylines. If we judge by the number of videos found in youtube featuring Oscar and Jimena, they were the most popular couple. In addition, there are many comments in the Internet about their "chemistry." On the other hand, Franco and Sarita grabbed the public's attention because they had a love/hate relationship whose outcome was difficult to predict. Furthermore, of the three couples, they were the last ones who realized they were in love.
3.- People who participated in Tia's small study, expressed two main reasons why they watched this telenovela: that the protagonists were "hot", and the presence of humor.
My thoughts: What are the elements that make a telenovela couple "work?" Why is it that even though the codes of the protagonists' storyline seem to be quite strong and steady in the public, it is relatively frequent that the protagonists' story is overshadowed by another love story present in the telenovela? (One that is less "typical")
To be continued...