Over the last couple of weeks, I have been thinking more and more about the topic of representation. In class, we talked a lot about how telenovelas have touched delicate subjects like aspergers, rape, and breast cancer. The more I've thought about it, the more I've realized that most American entertainment forms veer away from these topics. The only representation of aspergers that I can think of is Sheldon in the Big Bang Theory. I haven't seen the show in quite some time but in the episodes I watched, they never directly addressed Sheldon or why he has trouble with social interactions. I wish they would address this issue not because he should change, but because it would mean a lot to the asperger's community. Overall, Sheldon is an unapologetically genuine character but entertainment has a lot of catching up to do in terms of representing characters like him.In regards to breast cancer or cancer in general, there is more representation. Stories of childhood and teenage cancer are more common. Aside from the Big C, representation of adult cancer like in La Mujer Perfect, is hard to find. Seeing these issues on screen helps create awareness about the issues and can help those affected cope with their situation.
Up until about a decade or two ago, finding gay characters on tv was pretty much unheard of. However, shows like Glee and Modern Family helped do away with some of the stigma and taboo surrounding homosexuality. I think shows like this helped sway public opinion in favor of gay rights as a result. Telenovelas have also made important strides in representing gay characters. In recent years, they have begun to show greater diversity within the LGBTQ community. Many Latin American countries legalized gay marriage long before the United States did (Uruguay, Mexico)
Rape is an issue that continues to be avoided in American entertainment. Rape culture, however, is still largely prevalent, as made prevalent by the Brock Turner case and the current political climate.
These issues need to be addressed not just in entertainment but in everyday conversations. Turkey was forced to address these issues and has made some progress on the issue of rape and gender violence.
In terms of racial and ethnic representation, I think both telenovelas and entertainment as a whole have a long way to go. Telenovelas have a tendency of showing lighter skinned men and women as protagonists. However, telenovelas have brought racism in Latin America to light and as a result, have provoked conversations on the issue.
Ultimately, telenovelas have broken many boundaries in terms of representation. In many of these countries, telenovelas have a unifying power that is as (and oftentimes, more) powerful than sports, politics, and economic status. Therefore, it is a clear cut way to send a message to a majority of a country's population. Clearly, representation is important and has the potential to change lives and cause political change.