May 18, 2008


Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso, based on the book authored by Colombian investigative reporter Gustavo Bolívar, tells the story of siblings Catalina and Byron, who chose the paths of prostitution and sicariato (paid hit man) to escape from poverty. Both paths are inextricably linked to narco traffic. This mini-series (I think it's too short to be called a telenovela) was originally produced by  Caracol in Colombia. Sin Tetas is a  show with a clear lesson dispensed after its "The End:" 

Translation: One may think that just by being pretty or by having a gun you can reach paradise. That money makes you somebody, that a kiss is a coin, and a checkbook is a hug. That to study is a waste of time. As if becoming a prostitute and becoming someone else's merchandise, or living from killing others, were better than finding an honest job. The truth is that to be somebody in life, you don't have to be rich. To be somebody is to be, increasingly, owner of our own destiny. To read, write, substract, add, to study, to understand. To be able to fly and be proud of ourselves, of the struggles and triumphs that we have lived through without damaging others. The truth is that to be somebody in life you need to love, love yourself and be loved. To be somebody you don't need to elicit envy because you have money. No, to be somebody means to walk straight with your head up and without the need to hide. It means too live without nightmares and to be able to sleep soundly. The truth is that one can believe that just by being pretty, of by having a gun, you can reach paradise. But, money isn't paradise. And for paradise there aren't any shortcuts.

In similar fashion as the case of Yo soy Betty, la fea, the international market has fallen in love with this story, which has been broadcast in many countries. Its rights have also been acquired to produce several remakes. Each country that has broadcast Sin Tetas, or one of its remakes, has had to decide whether to leave the title unchanged or not since the word "tetas" ("tits") is considered vulgar in several Spanish-speaking cultures. For example,  here's a promotional for the series in Puerto Rico. The word "tetas" is never said. In its place, there's a graphic:

Here, in the United States, Telemundo (owned by NBC) bought the rights for Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso with the idea of producing it in Spanish with English sub-titles for the Spanish-speaking and English-speaking audiences.

How do you handle the title of this novela when Latinos in the United States come from a number of countries in which the acceptance of the word "tetas" varies? 

What title do you use in English? "Without Tits, There's No Paradise"? Or, "Without Breasts, There's No Paradise"?

Look at the teaser from Telemundo productions. It's narrated in English and uses English sub-titles:

In this teaser, we can read the title in Spanish,  "Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso" without the narrator ever saying it (0:51). At the end of the teaser, (2:40) author Gustavo Bolívar, himself says: "Llámalas como las quieras llamar, pero ya basta de tabúes. Tetas son Tetas y ya". The sub-titles read:  "No more taboos! 'tetas' are 'tetas'". In this way,  "tits" (a word that I don't think is acceptable for the average U.S. network television viewer) is never mentioned. The word "tetas" is shown and said only in Spanish, while the author instructs Spanish-speaking audiences to dispose of the "taboo" associated with the word "tetas."

It's going to be really interesting to follow the case of Sin Tetas No Hay Paraíso in the United States. 

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