Jul 24, 2008


My second presentation at IAMCR this year was in the Audience section. In it, I focused on the audience's readings of the love story and physical aspect of the protagonists of Venezuelan telenovela Ciudad Bendita, written by Leonardo Padrón. At the end of this entry is the presentation's video. It doesn't have good quality, nor does it show the screen with the PowerPoint supporting slides. Therefore, following are some o those slides with a brief explanation.

In general, telenovelas have some basic codes. Among them are that protagonists follow a beauty code: they are usually beautiful women and handsome men. A second basic code is that the main love story consists of love at first (or almost-first) sight, a long sequence of misunderstandings and obstaces, and the happy end:

Ciudad Bendita's main love story was a transgression of these two codes. Handsome Juan Carlos García was the antagonist. Solid actor, but generally not considered particularly handsome, Roque Valero was the male protagonist, while female protagonist Bendita (played by Marisa Román) had a noticeable limp, the product of a childhood accident.

Thes storyline was also a transgression: Bendita is in love with the antagonist during the first 70 episodes.

In a country like Venezuela, used to telenovelas that are "within the code" and obsessed with physical beauty, how did the audience read this double code transgression?

At the beginning, they didn't like it:

The audience was certainly surprised by the choice of protagonists, and disoriented by this unusual love story. But, as the plot advanced, and Bendita and Juan finally fell in love, audience members accepted and embraced them:

And even though, the public ended up accepting Roque Valero as the protagonist:

There were many who wanted Bendita to be healed (as in a traditional telenovela) of her physical impairment:

In conclusion:

This overview is extremely superficial. Conference presentations already are horribly superficial: a 10-15 minute summary of the work that has taken years and research papers of many pages. But, sharing is my goal, and keeping the conversation going.

Following is the video of the presentation:

And the program of the session in which I presented:

14.00‐ 15.30 Room B497
Chair: Virginia Nightingale, University of Western Sydney, Australia
ANNETTE HILL, University of Westminster, United Kingdom
Spirit Media: Ghosts, Audiences and Digital Culture
GEORGETTE WANG, National Chengchi University, Taipei, Taiwan
Glocalization Backfired: Cross‐cultural Viewing of The Weakest Link and The Apprentice
CAROLINA ACOSTA‐ALZURU, University of Georgia, USA
No Cinderella and no Prince Charming?: Audience reception when the telenovela codes are broken
MONICA HERRERO, Universidad de Navarra. Pamplona (Navarra) Spain
The relationship with the audience in family fiction series: the long‐term success and the extension to
other windows
MIAO‐JU JIAN, National Chung‐Cheng University, Taiwan
Passion for “the More Real”: The co‐constitutive relationship between audience and media
technology in the case of global reality TV reception in Taiwan
SARA PEREIRA, University of Minho, Portugal
Television for Children: the Child’s View

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