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, March 3, 2011

Alzheimer's in 'Rubi'

A few classes ago we discussed reoccurring themes in telenovelas. I was surprised to find the gravity of some of the issues that were so often included in the telenovela. Often times I seem to focus on the telenovela as being purely entertainment...and often times, with its melodrama, it's hard to take seriously. However, I think its pretty awesome that the writers chose to include such serious issues in their shows. Not only are these issues relevant to society, but telenovelas are of such influential power that they may be able to draw attention to these issues in the proper way--whether it be by raising awareness or simply helping people to understand those around them who might be different.

One of the issues we learned was prevalent in the telenovela was Alzheimer's Disease. When I heard this in class, I thought it was kind of a random issue to focus on. I understand the severity of the disease and that it is a heartbreaking illness. However, I did not realize the large percentage of the population that may develop Alzheimer's -- currently 5.2 billion people have the disease. Needless to say, this is a lot. Also, hispanics are almost 2 times as likely as whites to develop the disease. After learning this, I can see why the issue is so often included.

As far as my telenovela 'Rubi' goes, I found it incredibly ironic that the day we discussed Alzheimer's in class was the day Alzheimer's came into the plot in my telenovela. One of the mothers of the romantic leads develops the disease quite suddenly. I found it very interesting that the writer used the woman and her disease to get a message across. The woman was portrayed as naive, sweet, and innocent-yet they did not belittle her or make her seem helpless. Also, despite her disease the woman with Alzheimer's served as a positive and guiding force to the younger generation in the telenovela. She is able to calm a man, Hector, who is about to commit a murder simply by looking him in the eyes and reminding him of what a good person he is at heart. Although the woman is not 100% herself, Hector listens to her because he knows she is speaking the truth---she has no reason to lie.

I'm sure the writer included Alzheimer's because so many people can relate to the struggle of having a loved one with this disease. I think telenovelas should be acclaimed for taking it upon themselves to inform the public about such serious social issues.

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