Friday, September 16, 2016

Con Fuego

The first little section of Celia is pretty intricate. It seems that my telenovela is coming together even a little bit slower than others in our class. There are a lot of parallel story lines happening that take time to come together.

I've noticed the scenes unfolding a lot like a play. It only uses moving shots to show space, but it doesn't use them to show characters from dynamic angles. The production doesn't flaunt camera work. The camera is secondary to following the characters. They frame the camera with people to show circular conversations a lot. 

Brief flashbacks are shown in black and white to signify that a character is thinking about that moment. It's a real digression sometimes and it throws me off, but I can definitely see that the producers wanted to throw in a traditional spin. The audience was in the hospital just about every ten minutes, and those scenes were like pulling teeth. I've spent years trying to train myself to respond with diligence to a situation, In telenovelas, they just react. Emotionally, Blowing their lids off at everything. Maybe telenovelas are a contribution to the stereotype of the Latinas con fuego.

I've been having difficulty going through the consuming process. Sometimes I was feeling like there was a lot to keep up with. A lot of the scenes tend to jump a lot. I will have to grow better at reading into the developing characters in Spanish. This is a process I really like in English. I can get into it if there is something cerebral that weaves together an intricate net of detail in people's lives. Characters here sometimes only get represented in one light. I certainly see difficulty for the way that women are displayed in the spotlight, but I don't think it is tons more devious than how men are depicted either. There are very few stable men in the show. They are all absolute feigns for whatever their cause is: Either money, sexual promiscuity, or even abuse and molestation. Several characters just look like absolutely terrible heathen in every single one of their shots. 

With the drama, I already feel like I have enough on my plate that it is so hard for me to take on all these stupid burdens of other people in this show. It's hard to find the desire to want to feel with the individual characters because of how far apart we are. They are all so k-9, it hardly shows the thought process for anything. I personally spend way more time thinking before I move or say something.. telenovelas are grueling for people who want to overcome ADHD or something. Let me talk about all the things I love in another post! Como la musica!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

How Fatmagul Defies Rape Culture

       During Tuesday's lecture, we watched portions of the Turkish telenovela turned Spanish dubbed drama, "Que Culpa Tiene Fatmagul". One of these clips included the scene from Episode One where she is gang raped by a group of drunk men. Just like in the drama itself, Dr. A did not sugar coat the scene. No parts of the crime were skipped in class, no warnings were given for us to cover our eyes or prepare ourselves, and nothing was censored.
       As a Public Relations major and a huge movie junkie, this is something I found so perplexingly rare not only in Turkish or Spanish culture but unfortunately also in American culture. In any other Hollywood movie or drama, the screen would go to black before anything too emotionally pressing was shown in order to keep audience ratings up and not scare viewers away especially on Episode One. In any other average show, the director would have just flashed straight to the part where Fatmagul is in the hospital or where she is left in the dirt to cry.
       However, the director of Fatmagul, Hilal Saral, purposely shows it all from beginning to end without infringing on restrictive censorship ratings. She shows the portion where the men get clearly intoxicated, the part where they drunkenly spot Fatmagul, and her desperate attempt at escaping. She takes the audience from hope to hopelessness, and we see the point where Fatmagul gives up fighting against her rapists. We are shown how she has no more energy to do so and is covered in complete darkness.
       Nothing about this scene is pretty, yet it was still so hard to peel away from. The entire act was so visibly heartbreaking where you couldn't stop watching. Everything about it felt so real because Saral took no shortcuts in showing us reality. Fatmagul gave the audience a face and a name to put to a worldwide issue.
       You see rape culture manifesting itself in American society today with movies such as "Fifty Shades of Grey" becoming huge successes across the charts. You see a normalization where violence towards women is seen as something appealing, sexy, and masculine on and off college campuses. I applaud Hilal Saral and the entire staff of "Que Culpa Tiene Fatmagul" for placing blame where it belongs, starting a necessary discussion across borders, and refusing to sugar coat an on screen scene of a problem that happens all too often off screen.

Hoy era perfecto!

    Today by far was one of the coolest experiences today. I was really enjoyed learning deeply from the production side of telenovelas. One thing that I've enjoyed learning is how other countries government play an effect in their tv production.  Today during our special guest speaker, all I could think about was the comparisons between America's market to other countries in the world.
   It makes me sad that countries around the world have rules on what type of television shows stream in their countries. Venezuela especially is hard to think that ten years ago people had more freedom with the telenovelas.
     Also,  I've found it interesting that other productions around the world are picking up telenovelas and making spins off of it. Today when I heard during the lecture that these writers aren't getting paid either is very sad.  I wish patents were taking more seriously around the world, and I agree that production companies especially Netflix would make a good investment to take producers and writers from countries like Venezuela who are out of business to help with their remaking of shows. The only problem would be the culture difference.
    I also would like to know overtime more about other countries who have problems with production and showing certain things that they want.  Also, I think it's only fair to see what type of rules are on production of television on shows that air in the United States. I wonder if there are rules in our country that we are not even aware of in Hollywood.
   Overall, I would love to see the United States produce more series like telenovelas and play maybe 2-3 nights a week versus once a week.

My First Impression from the Sisters in Tres Veces Ana

 This semester I’m watching Tres Veces Ana, which is a (traditional rosa) Mexican telenovela. At first it was really confusing to keep up with the plot because the main character, Angelique Boyer, plays Ana Leticia, Ana Laura and Ana Lucia, three identical sisters. However, as the first episode continued, I noticed how the producers decided to differentiate between the three sisters.  Ana Leticia, the ‘evil’ sister, is dressed with very fashionable clothes and always has red lipstick.  You can automatically tell she’s supposed to be the mischievous one, with the way she walks, dresses and affectionately touches the male characters. The reddish/brownish wavy hair adds to her sex appeal as well. Watching the show, I instantly hate Ana Leticia because you can tell that she caused her parent’s accident, caused her sister to lose her leg and she ended up coming out unscathed. Since she was a child, you could tell she was the one who got everything she wanted and the one time her father tried to discipline her, she disobeyed and killed her parents. Though of course she has had to experience tragic loss (her parents and her husband) and sadness, I don’t feel sorry for her because she’s miserable and is trying to drag everyone down with her. She’s manipulative and you can tell by the tinkle in her eyes. When she gives her sister, Ana Laura, the gift from Mexico, she tries to act like she didn’t know the gift of the skirt would offend her, playing innocent when she knows exactly what she’s doing. (Her sister has one leg, so you could see why she wouldn’t be thrilled with the idea of wearing a skirt) This scene made me so upset because after the exchange, Ana Laura ends up apologizing to Ana Leticia for taking the ‘mistake’ too personally. The producers and writers do a very good job of differentiating between the personalities of the sisters though they are the same actress. Ana Lucia is very carefree and relaxed. Ana Laura is very timid, scared, and blames herself for different situations.  And of course, Ana Leticia is very sexy, malicious, and devious.
Ana Leticia has the classic villain vibe, willing to hurt her family members to show that she’s in control and anyone who steps in her way, will have to deal with her. There was one scene where she was at dinner with her uncle Mariano and his girlfriend Jenny. Mariano went to answer a phone call and Ana Leticia placed suspicion in Jenny’s mind by implying that her uncle was on the phone with another woman. At first, I was wondering, what would be Ana Leticia’s motive for breaking up her uncle’s relationship. Then I later realized, she clearly has a inappropriate affection for her uncle and doesn’t want him to be Jenny so that he can focus all his time and money on Ana Leticia. I’m anxious to see if Jenny will stay in the picture or how Ana Leticia plans to get rid of her, because I’m sure that’s what’s going to happen.
  Then there’s of course Ana Lucia. I feel bad for her most of all; she doesn’t know her past and questions and dreams have been arising in her mind. She’s in a place where she doesn’t want a boyfriend, wants to focus on herself and not love and I love that she doesn’t feel like she needs a man. She has curly hair, which adds to her carefree aesthetic, and is also a talented dancer. I identify with her the most because she’s just the ‘girl next door’, lives by a beautiful area, but I can tell her life is about to drastically change with the addition of the truth. Ana Laura is the sensitive one; the audience can tell she’s used to silencing herself and she sulks all day. She genuinely wants the best for others and never puts herself first. Her hair is bland and straight, similar to her personality, though I know she will transform as the show continues.

   As the season continues, I hope that Ana Leticia gets humbled quickly because she clearly thinks the world revolves around her and would love if she could get a dose of reality. I would like to see Ana Laura find her voice, get married, and realize that she deserves to be happy as well. I would like to see Ana Lucia find the truth about her family, yet still find the strength to forgive ‘her mom. I'm noticing the archetypal character types in these sisters, which is why I can predict what might happen with each one, but I can tell I’m in for a lot of plot twists and it’s got me hooked so far.

Telenovelas in a Netflix World

I think the most interesting part of Dr. Granier's visit was when the conversation turned towards the future. The history of how telenovelas evolved is fascinating and reminded me of a snowball effect, but the uncertainty of how to handle Netflix and Hulu is particularly fascinating. It is a question that haunts the entire broadcast industry, but perhaps telenovelas and television shows the most. The current model of watching one episode a week is just simply unacceptably dissatisfying now that we can binge watch our favorite shows on a streaming platform. Telenovelas can compete with Netflix and other services like it because they air an episode daily, which I think is the perfect hybrid between binge watching and releasing a show on a weekly basis; it is like measured binge watching. Most of the telenovela producers have a show's entire catalog on their website for consumption, which is essentially what Netflix does. So while the rest of the television programming world lags tremendously behind Netflix and has to adjust to compete, telenovelas seem to be in prime position to keep up with streaming services. If traditional television programming is strides behind Netflix, I think telenovelas are right on the heels of Netflix and Hulu because of how they are structured to release episodes in a binge-like fashion.

Telenovelas and Politics: Do Not Mix

Today in class, we had the privilege of learning from and talking with Marcel Granier. I want to start this post by saying how cool today was! I am so thankful we had the opportunity to hear a first-hand account of the telenovela industry in Venezuela. The dynamic of the telenovela industry in this country is intriguing, and Marcel offered so much valuable insight. Everything he said was interesting, and his stories (especially about the queen) were hilarious; however, one particular thing he said peaked my attention in a big way. 

Marcel said that politicians hate telenovelas. This caused me to wonder why. Why in the world would politicians have any sort of problem with the cultural phenomenon that are telenovelas? Marcel offered up the reason that no politician has ever been able to capture an audience the way that the nightly, drama-filled programs do. 

This explanation makes sense to me, but I thought to myself that there must be more to the story. So, after class today, I decided to google "why do Venezuelan politicians hate telenovelas." Well, probably to nobody's surprise, the results were slim; however, I did come across a story reported by NPR about the influence that Chavez had on the telenovela industry. 

Though not exactly what I was looking for, I decided to read the story anyway. The subject fascinated me and I was so excited when I read what actually may be part of the answer to my burning question: why do politicians hate telenovelas?

The article says "There are some telenovelas with social commentary. Several targeted Chavez during his presidency, with thinly veiled criticism through the characters they created. Many of those were produced by the now-closed RCTV, a blow that the industry has never fully recovered from" (Garsd 1). 

While reading this, it dawned on me - maybe politicians hate telenovelas because of the strong societal remarks these seemingly simple shows have the capability to make. Maybe they hate telenovelas because they can influence the thinking of an entire country in just an hour per night. Maybe they hate telenovelas because they are scared of the potential they hold to cause uprising and point out serious societal flaws that the government needs to fix, but won't. 

Or, maybe I'm wrong. But, based on what I learned from Marcel, what I read in this article, and the actions of Chavez in regards to RCTV, I think I might be on to something. 

I'm really looking forward to researching more into this topic and unpacking the tense relationship between politics and telenovelas. 

Link to the article I read from NPR:

The Reach of Telenovelas: Voluntary or Mandatory

"Telenovelas reach people in a way no single politician has ever been able to."

During our lecture from Dr. Granier in class today, this statement is one that really stood out to me. Sometimes we often forget the hold that pop culture has one society, whether we consciously choose to follow it or not. It influences the way we dress, language we use, norms we follow, etc. But the control isn't because we're told we have to follow it, but we choose to emulate it in everyday life so that it can be more like what we see on TV.

His comparison to politicians was unique to me though. Because the government and our representation within it are the body that very literally decides what we can and cannot do. They openly sets boundaries and makes laws that affect our actions. But it's true that they don't influence everyday behavior the same way as telenovelas, or any other pop culture, can. Because humans don't like being told what to do, they want to choose what to do. And by relating to actors in your favorite telenovelas, people are able to resonate with them and feel that their consequent actions are voluntary. This juxtaposes how people view politicians, which is as intentionally forceful governing entities.

But just because the way pop culture permeates society, does it make it any more voluntary? Yes, people choose to align their views with a character or buy the same jeans an actress wore on her day off. But, it also creates a society of unattainable standards as we saw while discussing things like plastic surgery and gender roles. Society may choose to be like their favorite telenovelas, but is that hold they have on society any less controlling than that of the government or politicians? Likely not. They're strangely opposites, yet with several similarities. And I'm looking forward to diving more into the interweaving that telenovela culture and politics have in Latin America and beyond.