Thursday, August 29, 2013

Common Misconceptions

Before taking this class, I was skeptical. I assumed every telenovela and soap opera consisted of the same melodramatic love story told by mediocre actors and actresses and played throughout the afternoon for women around the world. However, after some convincing from my advisor, I decided to give this class a try. Now, I admit my original perception of telenovelas was completely wrong.

Telenovelas, for one thing, are different than soap operas. Telenovelas have a finite number of episodes, and broadcast in primetime as well as in the afternoon block. They can go beyond the traditional telenovela “Rosa” and can tell stories about a variety of different topics. Not only do women enjoy telenovelas; many telenovelas around the world have captured the attention of men, women, and children. Telenovelas can also shed light on political and social issues, which leads me to the telenovela I have chosen to watch, “Pablo Escobar, El Patrón del Mal.”

When choosing my telenovela, I originally thought I wanted to watch a more traditional telenovela featuring a Cinderella type protagonist and a heart-wrenching love story. I thought I wanted to study the more traditional structure of a telenovela “Rosa.” During our class discussion on telenovela typology, however, Dr. A played clips from a couple telenovelas that centered on the drug world. These telenovelas, or narconovelas, immediately caught my attention. I loved the idea of worldwide networks using telenovelas as a medium to bring attention to social issues. In the case of “Pablo Escobar, El Patrón del Mal,” it was important for the country of Colombia to finally publicly release the story of Pablo Escobar, and allow the people of Colombia to grieve and move on from the terrible events that took place due to this now infamous man.

I have only watched a couple episodes so far, but from the first episode the presence of a Cinderella was clear. I was surprised to see that even a narconovela had some traditional elements in it. Paty, Pablo’s wife, is a much younger and very naïve girl. But, although the age difference is large, Pablo knows from the moment he meets Paty that she will be his wife. Pablo loves her with all of his heart, and Paty believes she is also in love. However, Paty has no idea of the business Pablo has become enthralled with. His love for money and power is almost more than his love for Paty. It will be interesting to see how their relationship continues as Pablo´s quest for power also continues.

I also thought the “entrada” to the telenovela was very interesting. You see Pablo as an older man on the phone. It appears he is about to be caught, and has hit the end of his domination of the Colombian drug industry. It is apparent this is how the telenovela might possibly end. Then, the telenovela switches back to Pablo as a young boy growing up in Colombia. The beginning gives you an immediate idea of what is to come. I think for this particular telenovela it was appropriate to structure the first episode in this way because everyone around the world knows the story of Pablo Escobar. Showing a clip from the end of his life is not going to spoil the entire telenovela. What makes this telenovela so fascinating is not what is going to happen next, but its ability to give the public a look inside of the every day life of one of the most infamous drug lords in the world.

So, I have realized there is a lot more to a telenovela than I originally thought. Telenovelas are an important part of Latin American culture, and I cannot wait to continue to watch the telenovela I have chosen, “Pablo Escobar, El Patrón del Mal.” 

1 comment:

  1. I really enjoyed reading this blog post. You caught my attention when you decided to choose a telenovela that leans away from the typical telenovela rosa. (That's the kind that I chose to watch!) So I was interested to hear about this one, especially with it being part of the drug world. I think it's brilliant that Columbia used a telenovela as a way to tell the story of Pablo Escobar. We've seen countless documentaries made and History Channel series done on events, but a telenovela is WAY more interesting. Instead of listening to someone talk about it and just show clips and pictures of his story, we actually get to live through it with characters and drama and emotion. Personally, I think that is a much cooler way to learn a historical story, because you get the best of both worlds. You get the thrill of watching the telenovela, and at the same time you learn the real story behind the life and work of Pablo Escobar.

    When you talked about how the author and producer set up the entrada, I thought that was brilliant. They briefly showed what could very well possibly be the end of the "story", but then spend the first episode flashing back to Escobar's childhood. The comment you made about them not being able to spoil the end of the telenovela, if the start with the end is so true. It's true because it's past history and everyone already knows how the story of Escobar plays out. However I think that's true with telenovelas in general. Of course we don't know what all the twists and turns are going to look like and what is going to happen exactly. But when we get a feel for the characters and classify them we usually can predict who is going to end up with who, who is going to end happy, who is going to end up miserable or dead. So I think it was a brilliant production idea to set the stage and do flashbacks instead of starting the journey towards the end. That way the producer and author is equipping their audience with an even deeper knowledge, and snaps of history that seem even more distant, in this case being Escobar's childhood. That is also how my telenovela began. I watched Corazon Salvaje, and the first episode(s) were showing the main characters as children. Juan is the main character and the Cinderella, and Andres is his step-brother. The father of Andres is wealthy and prestigious and has Andres with his wife, but then gets a maid pregnant and she has Juan. He still wants Juan as part of the family but his wife won't have it. Andres doesn't find out the truth till later on in the telenovela. But at the beginning it shows the past when all this is happening, and the two young boys, instead of just starting in the present-day. I enjoyed that kind of entrada very much because it set the story up so much better!