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

Monday, March 28, 2011

Ana Colchero: Love of my Life
As has everybody in this class, I too have fallen in love with a star from the telenovela which I studied. Her name is Ana Colchero, and she played the part of Camila de Los Reyes in Nada Personal. Nada personal was known for its life-like depiction of Mexican society, the plot dominated by a story of police corruption, which caused the brutal assassination of Camila's father and sister. Camila de los Reyes captured my heart with her tender, yet courageous attempt at seeking vindication. I was happily watching my resumenes one day when all of the sudden the woman Luis Mario and Alfonso were competing for was no longer Ana Colchero at all, but a different actress altogether.
So I looked up what the heck had happened, found out Colchero had quit in a contract dispute, and decided right then and there to dump her and never call her back.
However, when I was looking through the posts which were uploaded before Friday's deadline, I saw a picture of her from Corazon Salvaje, and I was trapped in her web again. I decided to further research what she had done with her life, and found the results no less than astonishing, and my love for her was eternally cemented. After doing many several successful telenovelas as a leading lady, and then quitting the only one I watched (what I then interpreted as a classic bitch move) I found out that she no longer acts at all, and has dedicated her time and money to helping various honorable causes; many of which seem to mimic the authentic humane attitude she portrayed in Nada Personal (she swore off a life of riches to live in a poor barrio with people she loved and respected instead of with her no longer trustworthy family). Colchero's causes include: living among and fighting for the rights of the indigenous people of Chiapas, protesting innocent narcotraffic deaths in Ciudad Juarez, and fighting for women's rights in Mexico. Clearly I misread your intentions. Ana, I'm sorry I got mad at you when you quit Nada Personal, I just couldn't bear your absence. It was "nothing personal." Things were said, bridges were burned, and I lost the only telenovela star I ever loved. Please take me back.
404 626 4465


Sunday, March 27, 2011

For the love of Music...

So, honestly I was inspired for the post by a fellow blogger, Dave Adams, and his recent post 'Adagio for Mayonnaise'. Dave's post made me think about just how much music affects the way we view a situation. In class,we saw how a telenovela love scene can go from intense, spontaneous and passionate to awkward and choregraphed when it is void of a soundtrack.

As I come from a family with a musical background, I have grown up with a love and appreciation of music. My mother plays the harp, flute, and piano, my step dad is an opera singer, and my little sister is a musical theater major. Unfortunately, while the musical gene skipped over me, I still love the way music has the power to impact our daily lives. Strange, isn't it? How the right combination of notes and keys has the ability to lead us to sleep... leave us laughing...or bring about a tear?

Music is also a time machine. It is able to bring us back to different parts of our past. For example, when I was young my mom would sing me to sleep with The Beatles' 'Black Bird'. Still, now, every time I hear that song I remember what it was like to be small. I remember that feeling of peace I felt being in that rocking chair with my mom. I remember feeling warm...I remember feeling safe. And now--no matter where I am when I hear that song playing, and no matter what is currently happening in my life..for that moment I'm transported back to a time when I felt safe and unhurried, and loved and protected.

The telenovela recognizes the power that music holds over us. I have noticed that there are very few scenes that are void of any kind of music. When characters enter the scene they are more often than not accompied by music. Right away, the music sets a tone for the scene...which keeps us alert and ready to see what happens next. The telenovela has such a way of intertwining the music, the emotion, and the action that often times its hard to seperate one from the other. In class, we all witnessed what happens when you do try to seperate them...awkward love scenes.

Examples of just how powerful music in regard to our emotions can be found everywhere in our day to day lives. For instance, I am sure you have all seen the Animal Cruelty commercial accompanied by Sarah Mclachlan's 'In the Arms of The Angels'. As if one-eyed puppies, and sick kittens werent sad enough on their own...having the commercial set to this song takes the footage from sad to heart-wrenching. Curse the genuises who thought up this deadly, tear-jerking combination. Alas, I have found two ways to outsmart them... A-changing the channel..or B-closing my eyes and humming loudly for the duration of the commercial---2 options thay my fellow TV watchers tolerate but are not always supportive of.

I've posted the commercial for your viewing pleasure (torture??)

On the flipside of things, and since it's always good to show both sides of the equation ( but mostly because I need to leave you all with a happy thought after watching that video)...let's talk about an example of the way music can be uplifting. I have found that no matter how sad one is impossible to frown while listening to the following song.

Told you so....

The beauty of imperfection

After reading many of the previous posts here on our class blog, the "low budget" appearance of telenovelas appears to be a primary concern. I myself wrote my last post about this very topic. It seems that lots of us here in the United States (myself included) are very accustomed to everything being "perfect." Television shows here are edited to the point of perfection, with budgets larger than life. As I've discussed before, the same goes for the movie industry. Low budget films rarely garner the attention that hack directors like Michael Bay do. This trend seems to exist outside of mass media as well. It seems that here in the US, our roads are perfectly built, constantly policed, our cities perfectly organized in little squares, etc. etc. etc. After hosting several couchsurfers from Argentina several months ago, their first impressions of our country mirrored this same sentiment: "we love the US, but everything just seems... too... perfect."

After learning a bit about the production of a telenovela, the genre as a whole appears to be the antithesis of this esthetic that the US consumes. Telenovela episodes are written, shot, edited, and put together in far shorter time than shows in the US. Dr. A's stories of rushing around to find birthday candles on set, bribing jackhammer operators, or setting up Scrabble boards, give an indication as to the environment surrounding production of a telenovela. Lower budgets, time constraints, and other factors converge to create an esthetic that us here in the so-called "1st world" are not exactly used to. However, it is this supposed imperfection that I have found so captivating about telenovelas.

Earlier this year I watched a FANTASTIC documentary about copyright law called Good Copy Bad Copy (it can be seen here, in full, for those interested). Part of the documentary covers the nascent film industry in Nigeria, which faces the challenges of producing films with much lower budgets than most telenovelas even work with. The final ten seconds of this clip is very valuable to understanding the issue at hand, when the man says the following: "we can't go to the L.A film schools, but we can tell our own stories with our own pictures. They look atrocious, the acting is horrible, but it's piecing together the stories." To him, having a native film industry displaying issues relevant to the country, its people, and culture is far more important than looks. The important thing is looking past the standard set by Hollywood, or network television, and to appreciate things for what they are.

This has changed my perspective on telenovelas drastically. No longer do budgetary concerns plague my thoughts when watching these productions. There is a real beauty in the way they are produced, the people who work night and day to produce them, and the millions worldwide that cling to every episode. They are important to people for what they are: entertainment, escape, relaxation, a time to come together as a family. These are important aspects of telenovelas that have nothing to do with budgets.