I was in Costa Rica this spring break, no big deal, and in my travels met some new faces. I figured most of the 19 students going on this study abroad trip were interested in Latin American culture because, after all, they chose to come to Costa Rica. I nonchalantly mentioned that I'm a Telenovela class and immediately heard the laughs, smirks, and chuckles; they thought I had made it up! I went on to explain how in-depth telenovelas are and deep rooted they can be in Latin American culture. Popular responses to my heartfelt speech were, "Yeah right", "It's just hot bad actors", and my personal favorite, "No way that's a real class." Point is that telenovelas hold very little to no respect in American culture. Turns out these students came to Costa Rica because they were Earth-conscious hippies(which is cool) and not Latin American-culture-loving students.
To be honest though, this is the exact same type of responses I got from my friends when I mention I have telenovela homework. The only people I have encountered that were genuinely interested in the class were the actual Costa Ricans, no surprise there. In fact the Ticos (name Costa Ricans call themselves) almost saw the fact that we have a class like this with a sense of pride; almost as if the fact that an American institution taught such an important part of Latin culture would perhaps rub off on them and maybe popularize telenovelas in the U.S.
I still see telenovela acting as...different...but my appreciation for the behind the scenes, social commentary and public service they provide make me respect telenovelas as an artform.
P.S. I still need Marissa Roman to visit us