Mar 23, 2008

BACK WITH A NEW LOOK

When this blog turned six months old, I made the resolution to change its visual look. It's taken me almost six more months to do it since it isn't easy for me to find time for such a task. Finally, it's done! (Hence my wide smile as I look at my computer's screen). And it was possible thanks to the amazing help of my friend dRAGOONS. If you can read Spanish, I recommend you visit his blog, Utópico Real, where you will get to know this bioanalysis student, who moderates the Internet message board TVVI, and who has a real talent for visual communication.

The change in the blog's look comes at the same time as I arrive back to Athens after two intense weeks of research in Caracas, where I documented the current state of the telenovela industry, ten months after the closing of RCTV and its transformation into RCTV Internacional. I still have much analysis to do, but the panorama isn't particularly sunny for actors, writers and the Venezuelan public. Both RCTV Internacional and Venevisión have shifted gears and now privilege the international market over the local one. This will probably mean more remakes of old telenovelas and more telenovelas that follow the traditional model of the telenovela rosa. It isn't a good time for creativity and talent. In addition, the work sources for actors have significantly dried up.

This trip also included several media interviews about my book Venezuela es una Telenovela. It's always both surreal and fascinating for me to talk about my book. Interviews usually center in either or both aspects of my research: telenovelas and Venezuela.

There was an element of serendipity in my visit to my birth city. Two events coincided with my stay. I've commented already about the first one: the premiere of Caramelo e Chocolate, the first telenovela broadcast by government network TVES.



The second event was the end of the production of Arroz Con Leche, a telenovela that's entering its final broadcast week. In all the years I've been studying telenovelas, I'd never been able to witness that moment in a telenovela's biography. Once again I was reminded of the importance of vantage point for the construction of our perceptions, and the immense distance that exists between what people "know" about a telenovela's production and what actually happens behind the heavy doors of every television studio and inside the network's boardrooms.


While I was in Caracas there was an episode of Arroz Con Leche that garnered 15 points of rating, a true feat...even in the current no-internal-competition environment. In this particular episode the character Tomás Chacón beats his wife Amanda. (We don't see him actually hitting her because such scenes are prohibited by the Venezuelan Ley de Contenidos). What does this peak in the ratings mean under these circumstances? Is it because there's a fascination with violence and/or drama? Or is it that Venezuelans can identify with and/or recognize this issue as one of the country's most pressing sociocultural problems? It's worth analyzing since those numbers and the content of that episode provide us with a trap door through which we can examine the social formation.


4 comments:

Mauro Porto said...

Carolina,

Congratulations for this wonderful blog and for its new visual. It is always a pleasure to stop by and check out your recent writings.

Best,

Mauro Porto

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru said...

Thanks, Mauro, for your comment. We both know well how fascinating and complex telenovelas are as a research topic. All the best for you too.

detourthisway said...

Dr. A,

I am very impressed (and intrigued) with your new blog layout. Just beginning blogging myself, I really appreciated the ease of navigation and organization of content in your new design.

Regarding the increase in high ratings Venezuelans gave Arroz Con Leche in the domestic violence episode, I attribute their fascination not to the violence factor, but rather to the connection unfortunately too many Venezuelans feel towards these situations of abuse in the home and in relationships. These experiences may ring too true to many and thus intrigue their interest in this telenovela's subject matter. Most definitely a topic worth looking into if it really is a peak into Venezuela's social formation.

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru said...

HI Jackie,

Sorry to take so long to reply to your comment. This week has been particularly crazy for me.

I think your observation about the high ratings garnered by that particular chapter of Arroz Con Leche is right on the money... unfortunately for the country and its culture.

Again, thanks for participating in my blog. You know well my continuous search for my blog voice. Having you here is very good for me.

Dr. A