One of the most fascinating classes recently was the class when we spoke about Hugo Chavez. It was so interesting to see the impact that telenovelas could have on every day people, culture and the entire nation of Venezuela. I was so shocked when Dr. A spoke about what was going on in Venezuela and Hugo Chavez’s coup attempt in Caracas. It made perfect sense when she spoke about the Chavistas and the Escualidos. The country had been completely polarized. Half of the country absolutely loved him and thought he was the Messiah while the other half completely despised him and thought he was the devil. I became very curious about these stark contrasts and why exactly people agreed or disagreed so strongly.
What really caught my attention was when we were talking about the television stations and how they were so strongly divided. There is the station that fully supported Chavez and only publicized good information about him against the opposing television station that only publicized bad things about Chavez. This reminded me so much of here in the United States how people usually watch either Fox or CNN, based on their political views. It all culminated when Dr. A said that although every individual watched one new station or another based on their political views, everyone watched telenovelas. Whether or not people loved or hated Chavez, telenovelas are used as a communication medium that can impact people across the board. Although here in the US most people have political views one way or another and either watch CNN or Fox, there is no communication medium that can truly reach the entire population the same way telenovelas can reach the entire Venezuelan population.
When we learned that “Cosita Rica” reenacted the scene of the woman being thrown to the ground in the streets, I was shocked. I love that for a while there was no such thing as “political correctness.” Telenovela writers could use the characters to say whatever they wanted, and then knew the entire country would be watching. I never realized the power that these writers have until that moment. They could put out any statements, create characters such as Olegario, who was incredibly similar to Chavez, and reenact situations that actually happened in real life. As a student very interested in the effects of telenovelas on society and politics, it was so fascinating to see how the common people watching these telenovelas would react to different situations that corresponded to reality.
The final point I must add to this blog is how interested I was in not only in political contemporary issues, but also general contemporary issues such as domestic violence and Alzheimer’s disease. I was fascinated when learning about the telenovelas about the woman who was abused by her husband who was a police officer. A week after the episode aired when she reported her husband, domestic violence reports increased 10 times throughout the country. This statistic absolutely blew me away and once again reaffirmed the strong belief I have in the power of a telenovela as a means of communication.