“You want to offer your audience hope. If you live in an ugly city, you don’t want to see an ugly city.”
-José Ignacio Valenzuela aka El Chascas
I used this quote in relation to Yo Soy Betty la Fea during my group’s presentation, and I really wanted to explore its implications further.
I love that Betty and other telenovelas can give audiences hope of a better life. I truly believe that we all need to escape from harsh reality and laugh when we can, and I admire telenovela writers for providing that outlet for viewers.
But, at the same time, is it false hope? Is it longing for something that one cannot have? I certainly believe that hard work can carry you farther than any wishful thinking, and for that reason I have to wonder if any telenovela has ever inspired someone to work until they changed their situation.
Has watching Betty ever made someone say, “Hmm, maybe I’ll apply for my dream job”? Has someone with a physical disability or ailment ever watched an episode of Ciudad Bendita and thought, “I know there’s someone out there who will accept me no matter what, so I’ll start loving myself”? I sure hope so.
From an artist’s perspective, that’s all I can ever hope to do-- inspire someone to change something for the better. After listening to El Chascas and Marisa Román talk about the different forms of crisis happening in the telenovela industry today, I fear that writers may lose the freedom to write with the goal of inspiring their audience.
As sad as that makes me, I see it everywhere. Creative freedom is no longer the center of concern in songwriting, in radio programming, in writing as an author. It used to be that the goal of an artist was to “make it big” and do something like get a record deal, or become a paid telenovela writer. Now, doing that almost robs the artist of the joy of freely creating. Everything is so much about money and competition and being the best, and no one has time to care about inspiring people because they’re too busy worrying about how to maximize profits.
Where has the creative inspiration gone in the creative arts?