Apr 18, 2008


Last Sunday, April 13,  VH1 premiered its new reality show Viva Hollywood, where 12 aspiring actors compete for a role in one of  Telemundo's telenovelas. María Conchita Alonso is "la diva de la casa de los locos" "the diva in the house of the crazies" and the main judge. She's accompanied by Carlos Ponce and Walter Mercado.

To assume this show as a positive sign of the increasing Latino presence in U.S. English-speaking TV, or to perceive it as good news for the future of telenovelas in U.S. mainstream networks would be irresponsible optimism. Viva Hollywood, just like the defunct MyNetwork TV  telenovelas,  is a catalog of the worst stereotypes regarding telenovelas ...and the Latino culture. Just read the text in the VH1 website that recruits participants for the show: 

"Latin telenovela stars are so hot, so sexy, so emotional, so extreme...don't you wish you knew what the hell they were saying?"

And here are the first two segments of the first episode, which are plagued with simplistic and stereotypical depictions of Latinos, Latinas and telenovelas. Look at them carefully...from the toast with tequila, to the dress wore by María Conchita Alonso in her introduction to the contestants, Viva Hollywood drips a dangerous mix of the elements that perpetuate Latino stereotypes: 



Judge for yourselves. Personally, I think this is very damaging for telenovelas and for the emergente concept of Latinidad in the United States. 


Victor Kulkosky said...

I don't know anything about Telenovelas beyond what I've heard from you, but the stereotypes are running wild in the excerpts. The worst one for me is the guy who claims to have had sex when he was nine years old -- the oversexed Latino, more volatile than the oversexed Black. Then there's the bitchy Latinas, equally oversexed; flirtatious and deadly in quick succession. Overall, everyone's "hot blooded"

I would inquire as to who profits from this show, not only monetarily but through power/knowledge. VH1 doesn't prosper by challenging stereotypes, empowering and promoting complexity. What's more disturbing is the all the Latinos/Latinas enthusiastically participating in the stereotyping. It readily brings to mind the African Americans who perform the worst rap songs/videos. Overall, I agree -- not good for Latinidad.

Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru said...

Victor, I agree wholeheartedly: the most troubling aspect is the participation of Latinas and Latinos in this perpetuation of stereotypes that trow us back to the time of Carmen Miranda.