Oct 24, 2007
TELENOVELAS IN THE CLASSROOM: MY STUDENTS' TIME TO PRESENT III
Here are three more student presentations. Three new topics in the always fascinating world of telenovela cosumption:
* The consumption of Amarte Es Mi Pecado
* The controversy generated by the Colombia TV version of Gustavo Bolívar's book, Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso.
* Consumption from the perspective of a US woman who leads a group of bloggers who write daily recaps in English of the telenovelas broadcast in the U.S.
Presenter: Jessica MacLean
Topic: The consumption of Amarte Es Mi Pecado
Sources: Internet bulletin boards and message boards
Objective: To analyze the reception of the successful Amarte Es Mi Pecado.
Findings and conclusions:
- It mattered to the audience that the telenovela was produced by Ernesto Alonso.
- The public enjoyed watching actor Sergio Sendel (Arturo) as the protagonist, and not as yet another villain in his career.
- The audience commented the romanticism of the main love story. However, there were also posts that suggested they would have preferred the antagonist, Paulina (Alessandra Rosaldo) as the progagonist.
- Casilda, interpreted by Tiaré Scanda, was considered by many as the best character in Amarte Es Mi Pecado.
My thoughts: One of the most interesting aspects related to telenovelas is the relative importance given to producers, directors and writers. These days in Mexico producers are preponderant in the credits. Many telenovelas are known as "the new telenovela by" producer so and so. Their names are recognized. For example, the late Ernesto Alonso, known as "el Señor Telenovela", Carla Estrada, Salvador Mejía, Valentín Pimstein, etc.). In countries like Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela, the author is given the most important place. Names like Fernando Gaitán, Bernardo Romero, Benedito Ruy Barbosa, Aguinaldo Silva, José Ignacio Cabrujas and Leonardo Padrón (to name a few), sell telenovelas. It's interesting also that, in spite of their tremendous power in the set and locations, the public doesn't know directors as well as they recognize producers in Mexico and authors in Brazil, Colombia and Venezuela. A possible reason for this could be that often a directorial team changes throught the production months of a telenovela. Scholar Thomas Tufte argues that "their role as intermediaries between the author and actors clearly works against their getting any public credit" (Tufte, 2000, p. 135). Whatever the reason, I'm intrigued by the directors' relative anonymity since in the film industry it is quite the opposite.
Presenter: Alli Gates
Topic: Reactions to Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso
Sources: Press, Internet message boards and blogs
Objective: To study the reaction to how reality was made into fiction in Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso.
Findings and conclusions:
- The author's lesson seems to have reached those who post in message boards.
- Even though Gustavo Bolívar aimed at a story with universal qualities, there were protests and even lawsuit threats from the Colombian city of Pereira where the plot takes place.
- The title is also controverial. Some argue that it's vulgar. There are countries where the series aired with a changed title that didn't include the word "tetas."
- Female actor María Adelaida Puerta, who was the protagonist, Catalina, has taken the message in Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso, that "paradise" is only reachable via education and honest work, to public schools.
- However, current Colombian reality suggests that physical appearance, breast size and plastic surgery have tremendous importance in the social formation.
My thoughts: Is Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso a telenovela? It's too short to be considerede one. But it's also too long to be defined as a miniseries or a TV version of a book. Regarding its codes, Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso has both melodrama and love triangles, like a telenovela. At the same time, it doesn't have a happy ending. Instead, its tragic end points to the series final lesson dispensed by two of its main actors: María Adelaida Puerta and Andrés Toro (Byron).
Presenter: Jackie Barnett
Topic: Telenovela consumption in the U.S. from a blogger's point of view
Sources: Caray, caray!, Pratie Place and an interview with blogger Melinama
Objective: To explore the person that is behind the blog Caray, caray!. Why does she have this blog?
Findings and conclusions:
- Jane Peppler, "Melinama", is a musical artist and a Yale grad who lives in North Carolina. She is the leader of blog Caray, caray! where daily recaps of telenovelas are posted in English.
- The principle of crime and punishment everpresent in telenovelas captured her attention first. "The more dastardly the villain, the more extraordinary the demise" is the telenovela premise that this blogger enjoys and welcomes.
- She began recapping telenovela Alborada in her blog and received many positive comments. She then started Caray, caray! where a heterogeneous group recaps daily the episodes of telenovelas broadcast in the U.S.
- In these blogs comments focus on two main aspects: the physical appearance of cast members, and the variations of the telenovela code present in some twists of the traditional plot.
- Comments suggest a diverse captive audience. Men and women (in many cases, couples who watch together) from different cultures and countries. People who are watching their first telenovela and audience members who have been hooked for a long time, English-speakers, and Spanish-speakers.
My thoughts: Thanks to journalist Luis Clemens who introduced me to Caray, caray!, I've been one of its readers for several months. I know that for my students the blog's recaps were important for understanding the telenovelas they chose to study. This is a blog that is useful not only for people who love and watch telenovelas, but also for those who want to learn Spanish. As a researcher I confess my amazement at the effort, time and energy invested by Melinama and her team. It is one more evidence of telenovelas' strong magnetism.
To be continued...