Thursday, September 15, 2016

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:

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