This is a class blog run by Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and her students in the course "Telenovelas, Culture and Society" at the University of Georgia during Spring 2011

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Doesn't Fly North: A Distinct Difference Amongst Cultures

I was introduced to the telenovela and its importance in Latin American countries early in my Spanish studies. Even though it was a brief introduction, I was taught the importance of el despecho and el amor in Spanish speaking countries. However, even after my introduction I still thought of telenovelas as the Spanish version of a soap opera with curvy women which have no problem showing a little more skin than their American TV counterparts. I do realize that there are many more differences between telenovelas and soap operas other than the degree of sexuality and level of how risqué, however I feel strongly that this higher level of sexuality in telenovelas is a testament for how different the American culture and Latin American cultures really are. For example, it came no surprise to me that the intro to Trapos Íntimos was altered for airtime in the U.S. and our class’ initial reaction to the clip is a perfect example why. Sexual relations in TV have come a long way in American television from early TV shows like “The Brady Bunch” (although not a Soap Opera) where it was mere assumption made by viewers that Mr. and Mrs. Brady sleep in the same bed to Soap Operas like “The Guiding Light” that show more passionate relations. While the amount of risqué scenes in modern American television has certainly increased, it still isn’t comparable to some of the clips of the Brazilian, Argentinean, and Venezuelan telenovelas. I feel this will always be a distinct difference between American and Latin American television and culture. This difference is also present in aspects other than television. I’ve studied a little bit of advertising in Latin American countries and the use of sex in advertisements for Latin American brands. Latin American beer ads would never fly in the U.S. It is funny how open Colombian beer ads are with sexuality when at the same time alcohol advertising in the U.S. is a risky subject. A mere google search would be enough to convey the differences between U.S. and Colombian beer advertisements. One point I found interesting in lecture was the fact that Mexican culture is more conservative than that of Central and South American countries. I haven’t learned much about Latin cultures for reasons other than improvements in my grammatical and language skills, which has unfortunately resulted in me grouping a lot of America’s neighbors to the South as having similar, almost identical cultures. I am looking forward to learning more about the differences and similarities between the Central and South American countries through their telenovelas and other forms of entertainment.


  1. Let me start off by saying this caught my eye because I was either going to write about hot telenovela actresses or Lost, and chose Lost...this time. I couldn't agree more with the fact that Latin cultures, and from what I've seen also European cultures, are much more open about sexuality than Americans are. Its easy to watch the Trapos Íntimos intro and quickly realize that wouldn't fly in the US. One doesn't even have to go to telenovelas to see the difference, Primer Impacto (news in Univision) have some of the "hottest" news anchors I've ever seen, and with visible cleavage to match (just an observation from my research). Now I am a huge fan of Latin women so I will not complain, I simply also urge Americans to take a similar approach because I also appreciate American women :)

  2. I have also noticed a difference in the advertisements while traveling abroad. This past summer I was in a small town in Peru for a couple weeks and one day in town I walked by an ice cream cooler inside a store and realized the advertisement for the brand of ice cream had a man going in to kiss on a woman's neck, they didn't have ice cream around them, just kissing. I couldn't help but laugh to myself because I would never put ice cream and sex together for an advertisement. I'm interested to learn how this kind of advertisement and more risque programing fits in different areas of Latin America, highly metropolis versus rural versus highly religious.