Nov 17, 2007
TELENOVELAS, HEALTH AND SOCIETY
One of the aspects regarding telenovelas that fascinates me the most is the way these shows can be used to deliver health messages and/or messages related to sociocultural problems and issues, such as domestic violence. In my class we've studied with interest some instances in which telenovelas have presented such topics (see my post FROM MY RESEARCH TO MY CLASSROOM: TELENOVELA RECEPTION)
Recently, the Red & Black, UGA's student newspaper, published an article about doctoral student in Public Health, Leslie Rodríguez, who is focusing on how telenovelas can deliver health messages.
The article underscores the importance of telenovelas for communicating health content to immigrant populations. In particular, it mentions the case of the Telemundo telenovela Amarte Así, which included an overweight male character whose untreated diabetes renders him impotent: Don Pedro personified by Mexican actor Edgar Vivar (Sr. Barriga and Ñoño in famous sit com series El Chavo).
Conscious of the role that telenovelas play in the culture of Latino immigrants, health organizations in the U.S. are using the melodramatic serialized format to educate and promote healthy behavior. For instance, in Boston, the prestigious Joslin Diabetes Center produced Rosa's Story/La Historia de Rosa, an audionovela that teaches basic information about diabetes and its treatment, and dispels myths and misconceptions about this condition that affects Latinos in a disproportionate way.
Another example is Esperanza's Story/La Historia de Esperanza, audionovela that targets Latinas as it delivers empowering anti-domestic violence messages. This novela, recorded in Spanish, was produced by Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication's doctoral student Lenette Golding.
In my next post: The use of telenovelas for political messages .