Jan 23, 2008


Through the years I've been studying telenovelas I've read my share of pages and authors about the topic. Here are my translations of some of my favorite quotes about this TV genre. These are my favorites because they illuminate with honesty and intelligence the intrinsic codes of the "show of sentiments" (Cabrujas):

Because it's so quotidian, because we watch it on television, we don't ask where does it come from, where is it grounded, what are its conceptualizations, what is there that is universal and human?
--Cabrujas, José Ignacio (2002). Y Latinoamérica inventó la telenovela. Caracas: Alfadil.

Telenovelas are part of Latin America's sentimental education.

--Gaitán, Fernando (2006). Interviewed in Los Imposibles: conversaciones al borde de un micrófono. Caracas: Aguilar.

The writers are the hidden protagonists of a telenovela, even though the majority of viewers don't know their faces or read about the decor of their homes in the entertainment magazines. It is the writer who defines the fate of the characters that gather multitudes in front of the TV screen on a daily basis.

--Alvarez, Valentina (2007). Lágrimas a pedido: así se escribe una telenovela. Caracas: Alfa.

It is true that a telenovela is a carrousel of melodramatic clichés. But it is also true that, as Umberto Eco would say, two clichés produce laughter, but 100 are moving.
--Vilches, Lorenzo (1997). La fuerza de los sentimientos. En E. Verón y L. Escudero Ch. (comps.) Telenovela: ficción popular y mutaciones culturales. Barcelona: Gedisa.

A telenovela is a "Great Love Story" administered in easy installments.
--Espada, Carolina (2004). La telenovela en Venezuela. Caracas: Fundación Bigott.

He or she who places words in the gut of a telenovela knows this very well: love without rating doesn't last.
--Barrera Tyszka, Alberto (2002). Desde las tripas de un culebrón. Revista Bigott.

This isn't a genre, like film, that goes from the heads of the writer and producer to the head of the spectator. Here, it goes from heart to heart, from gut to gut. And when the spectator's heart starts to get cold, it's time to twist the storyline.
--Gaitán, Fernando (2006). Interview in Los Imposibles: conversaciones al borde de un micrófono. Caracas: Aguilar.

The spectator know what's going to happen. But, I still have to surprise her or him when it finally happens.
--César Miguel Rondón in Lágrimas a Pedido de Valentina Alvarez. Caracas: Alfa.

This job, of course, is filled with failed attempts. There are many dignified intentions that never made it. But, there is only one possible commandment: to insist. This is why I don't accept the argument that says that telenovelas can't be improved, that they have a chemical formula that cannot be corrected, that it needs a high dose of stupidity. Every genre has a process and an evolution. It would be easier to resign ourselves to the headstrong ignorance and proverbial lack of risk of our television executives.
Padrón, Leonardo (2002). La telenovela: ¿género literario del siglo XXI? Revista Bigott.

But, what kind of love are we talking about in a telenovela? We're talking about a love that isn't like ours, but still resembles it. Its apparent incoherence and unreal nature can also be its coherence and realism. The sense of truth and falseness in a telenovela is only given by its ability to move its audience. What is real is what is deeply unreal, what is felt.
--Barrera Tyszka, Alberto (2007). Una intimidad. Prologue to Lágrimas a Pedido de Valentina Alvarez. Caracas: Alfa.

Venezuelan television can now change, redoing what already exists. The important thing is that its roots dip into the humus of popular culture as it is, with its preferences and trends, that it feels passionate about its past, and that it doesn't avoid its creative spontaneity. Only in this way will we be able to have the lyricism of the intimate, the daring of liberty and the value of truth.
--Rondón, Alí E. (2006). Medio siglo de besos y querellas. Caracas: Alfa.

But whatever is the path for telenovelas, they have the ability to reveal the cartography of both feelings and social tensions, cultural imagination, and the secret and explicit aspirations of those who follow them with fervor.
--Martín-Barbero, Jesús y Rey, Germán (1999). Los ejercicios del ver: hegemonía audiovisual y ficción televisiva. Barcelona: Gedisa.

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