Thursday, August 25, 2016

Telenovelas: A Tool for Social Change

A point discussed in class that I found interesting was that some telenovela writers use the plot lines of their shows to address greater social and cultural issues. Until taking this class, I pretty much just considered telenovelas to be the Spanish equivalent of soap operas: full of drama and lacking in depth. However, after learning how large an audience that these shows impact, it makes perfect sense to utilize telenovelas to draw attention to problems in society.

When trying to enlighten the public, the best way to do it is to reach people where they already are. And with such high percentages of the population in Spanish speaking countries already glued to their TVs for telenovelas at any given point in the day, it's not surprising that a variety of issues are being worked into plot lines. An example brought up in class was a character that suffers from Aspergers syndrome, a disorder that many people still struggle to understand today. By accurately portraying the disorder, it allows the general public to be exposed to what it's actually like for someone to live with Aspergers and understand/empathize better. It reminded me of an American show, Parenthood, which attempts to shed light on the everyday struggles of the average US families. In it, they also have a young boy who suffers from autism and it definitely helped me to gain insight in a way that didn't require any research because I was already watching the show.

I'm interested to learn about other ways that telenovelas can be used to impact society, whether it be addressing political problems, the mistreatment of women or other minority groups or drug trafficking. There's so many things that telenovelas can be used as a stage for, and it definitely gave me a new respect for the genre of television. While telenovelas can be dramatic and over-the-top, I'm happy to see that many of them have much deeper plot lines than simply romance like I originally thought. I'm hoping that through learning about these different story lines, I can also gain insight into some of the problems facing other countries today.

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