Monday, August 31, 2009
I love all kinds of music from classic rock, motown, techno, R&B, hip-hop, classical, reggae, and even music in languages I barely understand. I think music is an art, and there is no reason I cannot like each genre of music because in each genre I find a tune or lyric that is moving ( in an emotional or physical sense).Making a playlist for myself or others is exciting to do for a party, relaxing, falling asleep, cooking, and exercising.
When I hear a song, I think of the tune as significant. Just last night, as my iTunes were on a shuffle, a very dark tuned, no lyrics song came on. I immediately thought " what is this, it's scary?" I changed the song to "tengo la camisa negra" by Jaunes which made me reminisce of the summer of 2008 when I studied abroad in Spain with thirty of my closest friends. After that song, a song from a Bollywood film called "Desi Girl" started to play. I laughed, thinking of this past summer with my sister as we tried to imitate the dance moves from the movie the song came from.
I forgot to mention, I also have a playlist named " Down", for days when it's cold and rainy or gray outside, or I'm just not feeling the best of moods.
So, last week in class when we discussed the intimate "Despechado" songs, I knew where the genre was coming from. Although there is no term that exactly translate "despechado" to english, I think it is fair to say that many individuals have felt the same feeling of heartbreak and loneliness. I found each region having a specific title, for example despecho, ranchero, volver and boler, interesting as a factor of their identity. The different levels of intensity in each song created different levels of emotions. I think songs have a great impact on emotions, so it makes sense to me that the composers of the song get so deeply involved in the emotion of the lyrics. The emotions varied from lonely, depressed, down in the dumps, sad, verge of tears , ready for revenge, and moving on.
The music that is chosen during movies or in our case, scenes of a telenovela is something I pay specific attention to. When the music is fast paced and loud , I think something wild or revengeful may occur. When the music is slow and deep, I foreshadow death, a murder or something along the dark side. When the music is slow and high tones, I feel like something romantic may occur.
During the introduction of a telenovela or soap opera, the choice of music is something I stay tuned for. Or, maybe even get onto my computer and look up on youtube. I advise all producers to have an executive music producer to carefully choose or edit the song which will play during a series. I look forward to the dark, romantic , mysterious or humorous tunes that are to come.
Sunday, August 30, 2009
I just got back from a study abroad. Luckily, before I left, I had no idea that I would be without my weekly dose of drama. It was after I'd gotten down to Santiago when I figured out that although "My Super Sweet 16" is aired world wide, Grey's is not.
However, there were many things to see, lots to learn, and people to get to know. Grey's Anatomy got put on a list of things I missed (right between twizzlers and BBQ) and was eventually forgotten.
But, all good things come to an end. I came home.
Surprisingly, I was not really that interested in catching up on my tv show of choice. My blasphemous logic: its just going to get more and more dramatic. They are never going to all be happy at the same time. It's a silly waste of my time.
But, last week I came home to find my roommate watching Grey's Anatomy reruns online. I was bored so I sat down with her. Two hours later I have relapsed. It's like getting back into touch with old friends: I am giggling at Meredith, as she is forced to try on dresses, and I am crying as I find out that Izzy only has a few months to live.
I hadn't watched this show for SEVEN months! Yet, Grey's Anatomy has the ability make me bawl. I feel their fear. My heart flutters with their excitement. I cry from happiness when Izzy and Alex gets married (it's a big deal, honestly, I rarely cry).
I think it is incredible that a tv show can create that kind of attachment. That is exactly what we have been talking about with respect to telenovelas. They get in your head. You fall in love with the characters. You relate to them. You do not watch the novela, because you are bored. You get drawn in. As Dr. A said in class, "It is like food to them. People in Venezuela eat 3 meals and watch 2 telenovelas a day." The excitement and drama completely absorbs you.
This is exactly why telenovelas have such huge followings. Telenovelas focus on the most over-the-top dramatic moments in people's lives. Telenovelas build strong bonds to the viewers through the drama. And viewers thrive off of this attachment. It is how telenovelas manage to hook entire countries. It is how I, once again, got drawn in.
I would write more, but I just have two more episodes until I am ready for the next Grey's Anantomy season. I am hopelessly addicted!
When I first signed up for this class, I have to admit I was hesitant. Not the topic of course, the idea of studying "Spanish soap operas" was very exciting to me, but the idea that I was going to be sitting through another SPAN 3030 class where it's all about the papers and group work and nitty gritty that was so hard for me to enjoy. Now that I’m in a class that looks past all of that, I am able to view the Spanish language in a whole new light and that connection is through the telenovela.
Dr. A has so much knowledge to offer on the subject that I find myself wanting more and more. I never knew that a telenovela only lasted 120 episodes; I never knew they were aired in primetime, and I never knew that people in Hispanic countries around the world spend hours and hours in front of their televisions watching their favorite ones.
One of the articles we had to read last week had a quote at the end that stated, “In a world that seeks loyalty of viewers, there is almost no greater loyalty-generating content than daily melodramas like the Telenovela”. I am so excited about experiencing this loyalty first hand. I had the absolute hardest time deciding on which telenovela to watch because I wanted to watch them all.
My goal is to watch the one I chose and really try to decipher the cultural aspects beyond the melodrama. I want to learn as much as I can about how they work and how they play such a vital role in Hispanic societies. I want to experience this love of culture that Ansley spoke of so I can take my knowledge of Spanish to the next level.
Saturday, August 29, 2009
Point 1) Being able to identify with the characters in a telenovela makes one have emotional attachment to the show and get hooked to it. Point 2) Teenagers share similar desires, dreams, uncertainties, search for personal identity, and a need for independence.
I think that these two points are why the Mexican telenovela Lola.. Érase una vez, my chosen telenovela, gained so much popularity among teens and children not only in Mexico but also on the international level including Venezuela, Spain and in the United States. In this telenovela, I think a teen viewer would be easily able to find characters to identify with and relate to. Let me share 3 examples.
The main character, Lola, is a singer who is aspiring with her rock band to become musicians. She is a happy dreamer. She is both impulsive and vivacious. She is simply the girl next door. Teenagers, girls especially, can relate to her in some way, be it her personality or her adolescent desires.
Then there’s Jazmin who is an overbearing and prissy character; she is Lola’s antagonist. She stirs up conflict and trouble for Lola. She has her nose high in the air, and everything must go her way or else she throws hissy fits. (Think Regina in Mean Girls.) Everyone has dealt with or at least came in contact with a snooty person like her.
In addition, there’s Petra, the high strung “babysitter” figure who is easily flustered and always franticly anxious. The kids don’t particularly like being under her watch and even tunes her out, to her dismay. Every teen has had experiences with one of those type of authority figure in their lives and knows how they feel around her.
From just seeing the first episode, I can already see how teens can identify and relate with the characters and personalities of this telenovela. I can relate because I personally know people very similar to these characters. And believe it or not, the first episode has piqued my interest, and I am already getting into the telenovela! So I guess it really goes to show that if you can relate to your characters, you may be hooked to your telenovela too! And teens are no exception.
So the question then, is why are younger audiences unreceptive of soap operas? As the years have gone by, the soap opera audience has aged with it. Today, we live in a time where the world around us is constantly changing. The moment we buy one technology, the second edition is already being sent to production. In an age where we demand innovation to keep our minds from being bored, soap operas have failed to keep up.
When people watch a soap opera they are watching a specific story, when people watch a telenovela they are watching a genre. It may be easier to Americans to understand this idea by comparing a soap opera to vanilla ice cream-It’s a nice and enjoyable classic that has been around forever. There is some variation to vanilla ice cream, whether it’s vanilla bean or home churned, but in the end it’s all the same. Telenovelas are like an ice cream shop. New flavors are always being created and you have a choice of ordering ice cream, a milkshake, or an ice cream cake. With so much variation it keeps people from getting bored, and in the end all of these treats have the same basic ingredients that keep people coming back for more.
Perhaps if soap operas didn’t last for decades upon decades those who weren’t around for the beginning of the show would be more likely to watch them. Personally, I know I am less inclined to watch a soap opera because I feel like too much history has passed for me to catch up. Soap operas have failed to evolve with time and now they are suffering for it. It’s hard to imagine life without soap operas and hopefully we won’t have to, but in order for them to be successful they must learn from telenovelas and find a way to communicate with audiences no matter what the generation.
I have enjoyed analyzing the ways in which the producer elicits the desired reaction from viewers through design.
One thing that has caught my attention so far is the use of subtle yet strong visual cues to add to the dramatization. The most distinguishing cue as to which sister is taking the screen is the lipstick used. The innocent sister always wears a powder-puff pink tint whereas her devilish counterpart broadcasts her role through a deep, blood-red hue.
Another cue to stir emotions is the dramatic audio that accompanies each turn in the plot. This is always paired with a shot of the fair sister’s horrified face that lingers a few seconds longer than necessary, just to emphasize the extent of her anguish.
All of this to say that through our class discussions and a closer inspection of the one I have chosen, I am beginning to see the telenovela as a design rather than dramatic overkill. Many of these elements that re-emphasize the plot’s development are necessary to the genre and, I expect, help contribute to the success of the telenovela as a global export by minimizing the linguistic dependency in transporting meaning. .
Friday, August 28, 2009
After getting past the colorfullness of the initial scenes, I began to pay attention to the storyline. Because I chose to watch a telenovela that was not on DVD, I did not have the advantage of using subtitles, just closed caption. After watching a few scenes of Verano de Amor, I began to realize that although I could not totally understand the rapid spanish that the actors spoke, I still had a very good idea of what was going on in the story. This is when I realized how much nonverbal communication was important in interaction between humans.
Although catching key words during the episode such as, cine, vender, constuir and centro comercial was key to my understanding of the central story, I always knew how the characters felt about that particular situation. Feelings were shown through facial expressions, whether they raised their voices, whether they stayed to talk or turned and ran away. All of these actions and expressions helped tremendously in my understanding of the conflict and in my understanding of human contact and interaction.
Of the articles we have read so far, I found Carolina Espada's article, "Qué es una telenovela?," especially interesting. In the article, Espada explains that in Latin America, telenovelas are, among other things, a staple of stability and comfort. "...en una zona geográfica donde nadie está seguro de nada, tener la seguridad de que todos los días a la misma hora y por el mismo canal se ve la misma historia con los mismos actores y soluciones parecidas es profundamente reconfortante."
Upon reading this quote I immediately thought of Argentina in the 1970s, during la dictadura. In the midst of atrocious cruelties and crimes against humanity, Argentina managed to host and win the World Cup! As family members and loved ones disappeared, the country relied on soccer to distract them from the devastating realities of their lives.
I'm sure that if I were to look at the history of other countries, I would find similar scenarios. As human beings, we rely on various means to distract us from the harsh reality of everyday life and to cope with the many inequalities and hardships with which we are presented. Some of us turn to religion, some of us turn to sports, and some of us turn to telenovelas.
Telenovelas not only offer a temporary escape for the people who watch them; they also provide a forum where people from all walks of life can come together and build communities based on a single commonality- a love for telenovelas.
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Specifically, blog entries will be of two types:
- Open topic entries: You are free to analyze, comment and/or reflect on any of the topics and readings we will cover in class. You can also write about the telenovela(s) you are analyzing for your class assignments. Be warned that mere description won’t meet my expectations.
- Responses/comments to entries: A good blog builds a community. In that spirit, you should comment on the entries posted by your classmates or by me, be those open topic entries or responses to others’ posts. Your comments must be substantive and add to the conversation. In other words, merely stating “I agree” or “good point” is not nearly enough.
- September 4
- September 18
- October 2
- October 16
- November 13
- December 4