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

Saturday, February 12, 2011

The social consequences of narcotraficantes

The War on Drugs. Living in the US, we have all heard administration after administration spew the same tired rhetoric about the necessity of controlling the drug trade in the only way that we know how to do anything: with money and guns. "The moral and social fabric of our society will be destroyed!" shout US politicians from all sides of our fairly narrow political spectrum. Astronomical amounts of money are spent on programs like the Mérida Initiative and, more appropriate to this post, Plan Colombia. American noses snort violent cartels and insurgencies into existence, each of whom rely on our country's (to a lesser extent Europe's) insatiable appetite for cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, ect. However, despite the fact that most of the news coverage of these events is superficial in nature, it at least gets reported in the US. What does not get reported are the social consequences that America's drug addiction has on communities within these countries. It is here that the Colombian telenovela I am watching, Sin tetas no hay paraíso (translate it yourself, reader), comes into the story.
As I previously mentioned in a post, STNHP deals with the social phenomenon of "prepagos," or "prepaid" prostitutes for narcotraficantes. The idea, from my understanding, is that these women make nice (have sex, for those of you not into euphemisms) with men rich in drug-money with the hope of receiving in return money, gifts, or simply a better life. However, in order to have any success in such an occupation, a certain standard of beauty is needed. With this in mind, the novela's protagonist Catalina decides that she wants breast implants. Hence the title of the program. I am fascinated with these unreported (at least in Western media) social consequences that the drug trade has on entire generations whose lives have been effected by dirty drug money. Living in a society that is almost entirely at fault for this money, I feel a unique (and guilty) connection with these characters. But the phenonmenon does not just stop with prepagos. STNHP deals with the issue of sicarios, among a slew of others whose only possible employment is in the drug business.
In dealing with such occupations, STNHP confronts directly a number of social issues such as gender relations, poverty, and violence. Although I am only just beginning the novela, it is already obvious that the series takes a serious look at the view of women in Colombian society as objects of sexual desire. The title of the novela alone draws criticism to this sexist/macho view of womens' roles in society. In this sense, the novela functions as a testament to the many drug-related stories not deemed "news worthy" by Western (or maybe any) media. What a wonderful way to draw attention to social problems in society. I can't wait to see what conclusions the novela draws in its analysis! Check out the first scene on youtube and see for yourself. The first scene is SSSOOOOO good.


  1. Hiya Dusty.

    So I was looking on Internet Movie Database to find out about the actor who plays Martin, the protagonist in El Cartel, the telenovela I'm watching. The actor's name is Manolo Cardona.. As I was scrolling through his other works, I saw him also credited in Sin Tetas...

    It says he played Martín La Roca in 15 episodes. (Another Martin!) I would love to know what his character is like in your telenovela. Is he a bad guy? A good guy? Neither?

    In mine, he's got an incredible vulnerability and genuineness that viewers automatically are drawn to... and although he wears these ridiculous guido-esque outfits, I can't help but kinda love him a little what? Regardless, top notch guy, just trying to do what's best.

    (Also, he's got a wicked twitch in one of his eyes. Can you tell me if you notice that too? I want to know if it's actually a Manolo thing or just an act for the part, haha. Let me know when you get to him! Thanks!)

  2. I agree with much of what you say in your post. American consumers neither know nor care about the consquences of our consumer choices. Not only is it a sad reality that many women are forced into prostitution, but many of them are merely children yearning for a way out of poverty. In the United States, I feel as if our media has failed us. Mass media has become a tool of large corporations. It is no longer a place where one can find truth and reality, but merely a mirage of sorts--full of false images and blurred fantasy.

  3. So my telenovela was also STNHP, and though I loved the story (as sad as the ending was), but the social commentary on not only drugs but also beauty was obvious and awesome. The best thing was that the telenovela was just one big lesson...don't get into the drug world it's not worth the risk. Even "El Titi" the second biggest drug dealer in Colombia go caught, and when Catalina's prepago friends didn't have dealers to sleep with they had to be prostitutes at a strip/dance/happy ending club. they did great at really showing the negatives of the drug game, it's just unfortunate that some of the situations probably happen in real life.