Saturday, March 5, 2011
However, the aspect of these telenovelas that I have been most interested in has been the reactions of my roommates and friends towards them. I was excited for my roommates to walk into the house and see me on the couch watching "Mexican soap operas" (their words, not mine). Like an experiment, I wanted to see how they reacted. However, their criticisms really disappointed me for several reasons. At least twice, I was asked why I was watching "smut." Nobody could understand why I would be studying such a thing.
After several long conversations, friends and roommates at least came to accept that telenovelas were an incredibly interesting topic worthy of discussion. That being said, I was never quite convince any of them to watch an episode with me. Excuses of every type were made, ranging from unfamiliarity with Spanish, no time, etc. I wondered how these novelas could be any different (despite a smaller budget and language) than the shows that my friends watch. Surely the issues depicted in STNHP are far more interesting than those of The OC. Right? Although I would certainly never say that my 6 friends were any indication of a broader trend in the US, their reactions intrigued me. The genre is obviously popular worldwide, including here in the states. I wanted to know why most of them considered what I was watching to be trash. Their responses were unexpected.
Nearly all (5 out of 6) of the people who I asked the question responded as saying that the "low-budget quality" was why they were not interested. What does this mean on a broader level? Here in the US, people are obviously more accustomed to gaudy special effects and big-budget blockbusters. Directors like Michael Bay and James Cameron make their names by ostentatiously throwing huge budget effects, stars, sets, and plots at an audience willing to exchange it for any sort of real substance. Maybe I should have shown Caminho das Índias to them. Or maybe this says something broader about or society, but as to what it would say, I don't know. I would like to study this topic more as the semester progresses!
Friday, March 4, 2011
Up until this Representation and Identity assignment, I hadn't watched many telenovelas since between studying and work there is no time for that. But with this assignment, it reminded me just how addicting these telenovelas are. Watching Mas Sabe el Diablo never seemed like a task, it was wonderful and I was actually kind of upset when I knew that I needed to work on other things or just stop watching it. That may be kind of pathetic, but it's true. I am interested to see what exactly we will learn in this topic of consumption, and see if maybe I will finally discover how it is that telenovelas just have that "You NEED to watch me" characteristic. Or maybe, it is just us and human nature loves excessive drama? Who knows. All I know is that when I sit down and think about the past ten years of my life, and think about how many telenovelas I've watched and how many hours I've sat in front of the television screen, it is kind of ridiculous. The gist of this whole post is I cannot believe just how addicting telenovelas really are...but it is nice to know I'm not the only person who apparently is addicted and can't step away from the television when my telenovela is on.
The love triangles in Dónde Está Elisa were SICK. Elisa, a 17-year-old girl had sexual relations with both of her first cousins, and her uncle— and no, I’m not joking. All of the main characters were ridiculously attractive and I even started following a couple on Twitter! I could go on forever talking about the show, but then I’d just be writing another paper. I just wanted to share how amazingly addictive and dramatic las telenovelas are.
Funny story— So I’m in the SLC watching an episode during one of the peaks of the plotline and Viviana discovers her husband’s wedding band in her gay best friend’s bathroom. Needless to say, I squealed like a little girl which received some stares from other students, but I didn’t care because it was THAT crazy.
I’m currently on the hunt for a telenovela just as intense so I can spend hours of my life watching fictitious people fight, kill, yell, and partake in illegal activities.
I am still glad I picked to watch one of Padron's though because he does make an effort to tie his thesis for the plot to modern day issues. I respect what he is doing and trying to say to his audience but still get tired of some of the drama he must infuse to hook his viewers. I thought the stats that we talked about in class the other day about plastic surgery in Venezuela vs. the poverty was unbelievable. My question is though how much the audience actually internalizes any of his messages though. If they don't like their show too close to reality are they actually apply the message of the show to themselves? In the same way that the amount of plastic surgery is ridiculous the amount of t.v.s these people own even if impoverished astounds me. His message about the ridiculous obcession with one thing I believe could also be transfered over to the obsession with the telenovelas.
Troughout the episode, i recap the events for him so he can understand. I know that Argentine Spanish is harder to understand sometimes, and the characters speak very fast! However, i still think that the vibes and body language put out by the characters, the atmosphere of the scene, and the music can transmit the general gist of the events.
To step in the shoes of my friend, i watched some episodes of random telenovelas on Univision, but set the TV on mute. It was amazing how much could be understood, but the details sometimes were lost. This is why I try to tell Clint all the details i can, since this is often the juiciest part, and what distinguishes many telenovelas from others with similar plots. Although i understood the plot of these telenovelas, they are definately not as fun without the dramatic music and the myriad of different accents in the actor's dialogues!
Juan: Juan del Diablo is the important male lead in Corazón Salvaje. He is rugged, manly and romantic. I couldn't help but compare him to Mel Gibson circa 1995's Braveheart. Am I right or are they twins?
Mónica: The second protagonist is Mónica, the innocent, angelic, pretty love interest of Juan. She is the perfect contrast to her promiscuous sister. Mónica has soft blonde hair and big eyes that, of course, gaze up at Juan adoringly for about 90 percent of the telenovela. I think a good American version is Amanda Seyfried - pretty, but can look a little naive.
Aimee: Mónica's sister is her antithesis; she is promiscuous, sexy and manipulative. I think there's only one actress who could do justice to the character Aimee...
Andrés: The final main character is Andrés, Aimee's husband and Juan's brother. He is sophisticated and more of a "pretty boy" type than Juan. However, I think that one important characteristic is his ability to look a little bit crazy. He has more than a few scenes where he looks like he's snapped. I think Cillian Murphy has both the distinguished and high society look of Andrés, as well as his craziness. (Anyone remember Red Eye?)
Can any of you think of other good actors for an American remake?
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.
Thursday, March 3, 2011
Today in class, Dr. A lectured about the role of consumption and audience reception for a telenovela. She explained to us that the chemistry has to be electric for the love plotlines in telenovelas in order for the audience to become completely addicted to the telenovela. An example that Dr. A used today was in the telenovela “Cosita Rica” with the love story between Veronica and Cacique. Even though I only got watch clips of the telenovela, I could automatically sense the deep love and attraction the couple has for each other.
For my paper, I chose to watch “Corazon Salvaje.” My favorite part of the telenovela that kept me wanting more was the story between Juan del Diablo and Monica. Although the two are complete opposites in many regards, they have this undeniable chemistry for one another that makes the entire telenovela seem more plausible. The beginning of the telenovela was so captivating when Juan del Diablo and Aimee were together, but those two just shared attraction and passion. Monica and Juan del Diablo’s relationship is what made the telenovela addicting.
Ernesto, a friend of Gabriela's father, is a manager at the factory she works at and also happens to be lusting after her. However, Ernesto slicks his hair back like Danny Devito in Matilda, dresses in frumpy suits, and is very thin with a creepy goatee. To me, he looks like a sleazy car sales man. In my mind, even the protagonists should be beautiful in order to tug at the heartstrings of some and to confuse the protagonist. However, I do think that Colombian telenovelas put less of an emphasis on beauty.
Even the glamour of beauty is very evident in the Venezuelan telenovelas. In Gabriela, the factory life is not glamourize, and even the rich people in the telenovela didn't seem to have the glitzy flair that the women in La Mujer Perfecta seem to possess. Perhaps it is just the style, but one can tell that there is a distinct difference between the emphasis on beauty in these two countries.
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
The only available version of Corazon Salvaje I was able to find was the condensed version and though this was a great alternative I wish that I could have seen the whole story play out! The condensed version really helped to watch for this specific class but I feel like I missed out on the unfolding of the plot, specific other details and not to mention I feel like I was literally jumping to each important scene with no fluff in between. This was a little frustrating but at the same time it almost made the telenovela more entertaining because of the constant high drama (yes telenovelas always have high drama but this one was on steroids!).
Because it seemed they would only skip to the specific important scenes I feel like there was always intense drama all the time a.k.a instant entertainment. Every scene started out with dramatic music, a slow fade into the scene, and someone (mostly the women) either crying, sighing, or yelling while revealing what seemed like life or death information while another character becomes absolutely SHOCKED at what was just informed to him/her! I know I wasn’t suppose to be laughing during these times but it was kind of hard not…the intensity was priceless. This type of cut though was what also kept me addicted. With the constant drama I couldn’t help but watch on to find out what happens and by the time that problem was quickly solved there was already another conflict arising! There was just never a good time to pause, I had to just keep watching and watching!
Don’t get me wrong though, I really did enjoy Corazon Selvaje I don’t mean to poke fun at all, I am just a sucker for cheesy drama and find it very enjoyable! It truly was a great story, a classic Cinderella with a bit of a twist. The characters were amazing and not to mention I really did fall for the beautiful Juan del Diablo!