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

Friday, March 4, 2011

Pop Influence in Telenovelas
Last week in class we watched a clip from what I think was Cosita Rica in which one of the rich characters gazes out of his window through a telescope into Barrio Republica and sees Maria Suspiro and other poor people doing some sort of choreographed dance to loud hip hop music. This scene struck me because while I know that pop is something which has its own flavor in every culture, this bumping display seemed like something out of a Justin Timberlake video. There were hot chicks shimmying and shaking their assets, thug looking dudes clapping and bobbing their heads to the fast beat of some crazy street drummers. Once you get over the fact that this is all being portrayed through the lens of a telescope, the song takes off and it is easy to get the catchy tune stuck in your head. When I was reflecting on this song, and comparing it to the other songs we've studied in this class, I realized that it distinguished itself greatly from the more traditional songs like Copa Rota, which rely more on melodramatic wailing-type despecho tunes than the aggressive, hip-hoppy sound of the one in Cosita Rica. Another song I remember having the pop feel was Rebelde Way, surely in an attempt to appeal to their younger target audience. Going back to Cosita Rica, I noticed a very interesting detail in the selection of the background dancer's wardrobes. Three of the men were wearing NBA jerseys, something which struck me as peculiar, since my impression of Venezuelan sport fanaticism had it pretty much narrowed down to baseball and soccer. I attribute this to the powerful influence of American hip hop, as I'm sure the jerseys have far more to do with expressing any sort of team loyalty than they do for identifying the wearer as a member of pop culture. Even more interesting were the cities repped on these jerseys. A yellow Lakers jersey (Shaq), a blue Knicks jersey (Lattrell Spreewell), and a red Heat jersey (Alonzo Mourning) were the chosen threads. What, besides a powerful hip hop/pop presence do the cities of Los Angeles, New York, and Miami have in common? All three are home to flourishing Latino populations. This evidence points to a clear mimicry of leading pop culture:
America is the leader in hip hop/pop.
Latino populations are strongest in big cities like NYC, LA, and Miami, where many form their own interpretations of pop in music and style, borrowing heavily from what is being done by the popular American artists.
Crossover between Latinos in the US and the people from wherever they call happens through natural interactions and things like social media.
We end up with kids sporting Carmelo Anthony jerseys in Barrio Republica and its real life counterparts whether they know who he is or not.

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