Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso: Sometimes Less is More

A telenovela has a number of guidelines to which to follow, one of those guidelines includes the length of the telenovela. Usually a telenovela is on air for about 120 episodes or more depending on the reception of the audience. If the telenovela is doing well in ratings then the network might extend the storyline, but on the other hand if the telenovela is a complete flop then the network will try to end it as soon as possible to cut its losses. What I find very interesting is that this common sense formula was not followed in Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso. Although this was one of the best rated telenovelas at the time it was aired and its popularity remained throughout its broadcast, the production only lasted for about 23 episodes. This brings to question whether this production can be called a telenovela at all or whether it should be described as a short series based on a book. In my opinion, this should be called a telenovela. Although it was extremely short, I feel
 that it goes straight to the point and keeps the viewer captured through the whole telenovela. In 
contrast,  I feel that sometimes the 120 or more episodes are not needed. They turn out to be filler episodes with no real purpose in the storyline besides making it longer. As a result, the audience usually becomes bored in the middle of production. Even if a novela is doing well, the episodes should be kept to just the necessary number to tell an interesting and complete storyline. Adding fluff just ruins the quality. Although more than 23 episodes would have been nice because at times this telenovela felt rushed, I applaud the network and the production team for abstaining from adding more episodes. It is up to the viewer to decide whether Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso is a telenovela or just a series. I feel that 23 episodes is just enough when one compares it to the other versions that have been made. For example, Sin Senos No Hay Paraiso added a lot more episodes when it was remade by Telemundo, but I could not watch the middle. A horrible and unnecessary storyline was added because it was doing so well in the United States. More than 152 episodes were added in order to make the proper telenovela length, but many viewers that has watched the original version felt that those episodes were not necessary for its success in the United States. The original version had been a hit in Colombia with only 23 episodes.The extra fluff ruined the plot and the message the writer was trying to portray in the original version was not properly showcased in this second version. By comparing these two versions, the viewer can clearly see that sometimes less is more. 

Telenovelas as a public health message

I have taken away a lot from this class. We all have. But one of the biggest things that I have observed was how much Telenovelas can change peoples' lives. For example, we saw in class several examples of Telenovelas that force people to "make moves." What I mean by that is cause people to want to react. For example, the Telenovela we watched about the woman that had breast cancer. We talked about how there was most likely a huge increase in the amount of women that decided to get checked. I don't know about you, but that kinda made me think that I needed to make an appointment. I decided to look for another example of a telenovela that has done this.

I came across a recent article about the Telenovela "Encrucijada: Sin Salud No Hay Nada," which means  "Crossroads: Without Health, There Is Nothing." The article is titled, "Telenovelas Provide Platform for Public Health Messages." The main character Alicia has colon cancer and realizes that her whole life is going to change forever and she is going to lose aspects of her life. But the whole show was filled with actual public health messages like regulatory doctor's appointments, catching cancer at the early stages, etc. 

Dr. Michael Rodriguez of UCLA states that,"these telenovelas are happening every day, so there's an opportunity to have numerous messages heard frequently, by different players, over a period of time." And that, he said, "translates into behavior changes." Do we agree with this? Do y'all feel like you do things that characters do in a show? How big of an impact do actors or actresses have on your actions in your life? This was just another example of something that I have taken away from this class. Telenovelas can really change someone's life. 

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Just being a little sentimental as this class ends.....

For my last blog post I am feeling very sentimental. This is the first semester in college where I have honestly enjoyed all my classes....shocker right? And out of all of my classes this semester, this has been my favorite. I honestly looked forward to coming to class every day? WHAT? When does that ever happen? No idea.....

So needless to say, our very last class at Dr. A's house was my favorite. How could life get better? Pizza, cozy living room, our class, Dr A and watching the endings of so many of the telenovelas that we've studied. It was perfect.

Although the class is ending, it has forever changed the way I watch television and telenovelas in general. I had never watched them before this class and now I can't stop! I have 2 episodes left in La Tempestad! Crazy! Its amazing how close I have gotten to characters, to hating them or loving them. I have studied the relationships in the novela, what makes the character do crazy things as well as how the audience has reacted to this novela. It has been an adventure for sure.

I loved our last class especially because each of the final episodes we watched was so different.  I was shocked seeing the main character die at the end, or watching them take down the set, or how they filmed the live audience when the cast came out at the very end. I was impressed by the creativity of Leonardo Padron and the amazing ideas he had in ending each novela.
It makes me even more curious how La Tempestad will end!

As I reflect on this class I think one of the greatest things I have learned is simply about culture. I value culture so much and so getting to study different cultures through the lens of telenovelas was incredibly special. I also learned the importance of media and how influential it can be. I will never forget the day we talked about influence and how there was one novela where the woman was abused by her husband and the day she turned him in, within a week the numbers of women reporting domestic violence increased greatly! Wow, who knew that a dramatic telenovela could have so much power!?
And finally, a great lesson I learned was the importance of studying something you love. Dr. A has studied telenovelas for so many years because she loves them. She is always interested and excited and researching and finding new discoveries in her field. If theres is one main lesson I learned from her it is that you should find what you love and make a career out of it, because that is what she has done and she is so successful now!

I honestly can't believe this class is coming to an end! Thank you Dr A for an amazing class!

Maybe I'll comment on my own post when I finish La Tempestad so yall can see my reaction!
Consumption is important ;)

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Plot Twists and Samurai Swords

Things are progressing quickly in Santa Diabla. Now, not only is Humberto a murderer, but there is an increased presence of the drug cartel in the story, Santiago found out the truth about Ines and Willy, Santa found out that her mother and Willy had an affair, and now, Santa has been put in jail for being framed for a murder.

Just a casual day in the life of a telenovela character.

Let’s start with Humberto, the murderer. It’s obvious that Chascas listened to the feedback from the viewers that the chemistry between Santa and Humberto was getting too intense and that they wanted her to be with him. He has now done his best to turn Humberto into the most dastardly villain possible and Santiago into a more action-packed and manly character. Humberto murdered Vicente, Ines and “policeman’s” father; with a Japanese Samurai sword. Then he put his head on a platter and framed Santa for doing it. Pair those evil doings with a lack of screen time of the two of them together, and you get a perfect recipe for destroying the audience’s hopes for the two of them together. Additionally, Santiago is now pretending to be a part of a drug cartel in order to help the police. He now hangs with a tough crowd, thereby making him look tougher, he wields a gun, and even gets to pretend-kill his policeman friend. Santiago is being set up perfectly to be loved. Pair it with his devilishly good looks,  ever-present smirk, and dedication to Santa, and boom. He’s right back in the good graces of the public.

Then there’s the love triangle and perfect means of escape from an unwanted relationship for Santiago. Turns out Ines is pregnant with Willy’s baby, and not Santiago’s. Now, Willy has cheated on Santa with too many people to count, Santa knows, and she and Santiago are both one step closer to being together. Who knows what Willy is going to do though. He obviously doesn’t love Ines because she begged him to get her pregnant, so now he is stuck with her even though he is still technically married to Santa, and Santa is technically married to Humberto. There is no telling how many legal proceedings are going to go down in the next several dozen episodes. All I have to say is Santa is going to need a good lawyer… preferably not Humberto.

And what do I even say about Begona and Willy? Willy even cheated on Santa with her mother. FINALLY this element of the telenovela snuck its way into the story. It’s weird, it’s gross, and it’s kind of delightful because it adds such a layer of grossness to the story. As if everything wasn't twisted enough, Chascas HAD to add an affair with the mother. My hope in the male race has been all but destroyed by this telenovela. If a man cheats on a woman as beautiful as Santa with multiple women- and even her MOTHER- is there any hope for the rest of us? Telenovelas are supposed to give hope, and in a way, this one does because it is set in such a beautiful place, but at the same time, as a girl, I can’t help but fear for the human race that men will cheat on beautiful, young women with their mothers. It’s unsettling and a little gross. But, it is fun, and I’m excited to see how that plotline progresses. I want to know if Willy is going to die or end up with one of the women who he cheated with.

This story has sucked me in completely. I will be watching this telenovela until the end. It’s too exciting to just quit!

Friday, November 22, 2013

Despecho, Power and Love in the Telenovela

     As students, individuals, professionals, and consumers, we are all living our own telenovela. Our lives are hidden secrets, triumphs, woes, love, and despecho. We can't transcribe these lived emotions on paper for fear of sounding cheesy, silly, or shallow. In this same way, telenovelas flourish success because of the raw emotion preformed. Many disregard a telenovela as rather shallow, repetative, and unintelligent. We cannot, however, translate the true impact of telenovelas in society in the same way we can't translate the word despecho. Yet, we know it's deep impact the same way we know despecho is in grained in Mexico and Latin America. It's a saddening awakening, a sort of melancholy neblina in Venezuela.     If I have learned anything it is that telenovelas have power. As Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru concluded, the genre is evolving, it's not dying, and it has powers. The telenovela is filled with mistakes, also. I find, however, that life itself is full of mistakes, yet this gives it a human quality. In their hands, production companies, actors, writers, watchdog agencies, and government have broken countries and restored hope through the telenovela. 
    As an outsider watching from the United States,  my mother's heart hurt as she watched a report where thousands of gallons of milk being poured out because shipments did not arrive to Venezuela. In this CNN report, Henrique Capriles says that milk is being bought by spoonfuls. He accuses that the government controls foreign exchange, imported food, and practically all of the economy. Yet, as
we have watched, we saw power in the novela Cosita Rica. Although this was the last of the golden age of Venezuelan telenovelas, a spark of hope flares with writer, Lenardo Padrón. We all ache for Venezuela, yet there is solidarity for those waiting in thos long lines at the grocery stores. Shortages in Venezuela, NYT

     There is beauty in the imperfections of the telenovela. There is beauty in the power we hold as individuals, telenovela consumers, and the telenovela genre, itself.

Capriles hopes to spark solidarity for those standing in lines

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


I am completely blown away by the last couple of class periods we have had. Not only have we had the pleasure of hearing from some of Venezuela's most talented actors, directors, writers, and producers, but we have also had the opportunity to learn even more about this fascinating genre of television. I am so thankful for this learning opportunity. What has struck me the most about these conversations has been each person's perspective on the legacy Hugo Chavez left in Venezuela and the way he completely changed the country and the work they love. 

Marisa Román described, with tears in her eyes, the way her devotion to her country and her audience has nearly driven her to stop working on telenovelas in Venezuela, because she knows that she cannot deliver the type of telenovela the people in her country deserve. 

Leonardo Padrón said that he has a determination to be a Venezuelan and to do something to help the country. Despite everything that has happened to him personally and to his country, he feels that he has gained more than he has lost. 

 Vicente Albarracín expressed how in his work with telenovelas in Venezuela, what they have achieved is way more important than what they were not able to do. 

The focus in each one of these inspiring comments is hope. Each one realizes that the purpose for which they do their work is worth facing every challenge and hardship in their path. They are devoted to the art and to the audience that consumes it, and they will not give up, no matter what odds they face. Despite the many obstacles in their way and the depressed state of their country, they choose to have a positive perspective on their work and the impact that it can have. 

An important part of that persistence is a devotion to producing quality telenovelas. The actress, writer, and director know that they cannot settle for less than what their audience needs and deserves. They must do everything in their power to deliver a story that is going to do so much more than entertain. Their goal is to educate, challenge, and give hope to their audience. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

Why can't we get back to inspiring people?

“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?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Actors, writers, and Venezuelan chocolates

Man, this class just gets better and better every day! I really liked talking to El Chascas porque I like learning about the man behind the telenovela storyline. He had a “rags to riches” story just like most telenovela protagonists. Tambien me gusta la idea que El Chascas asked us what we don’t like to see in a telenovela. To me, having a say in what or how the writer writes for a telenovela would be a great honor because I know how stressful that job can be.

            Marisa Ramon was so great too. She rushed home from a day of shooting just to see our class. And, speaking as the only member of the male species, I can genuinely say Marisa is hot! I can see how so many people like her. She also did a really great job in her films. Well, she must have ‘cause she kept returning for more films. I feel kind of bad that I had to ditch class 5 minutes early during her Skype call. I was enjoying it so much.

Another great aspect of our recent class was our chocolates from Venezuela that are to-die-for. Thanks Dr. A for the chocolate! We should have a field trip to Caracas, Venezuela.

Because my consumption presentation focused a lot on Corazón Salvaje., I had to watch the abridged version of it. It wasn’t even the telenovela I pick when I first started. I picked Los Ricos Tambien Lloran. I will compare and contrast these telenovelas more in the final paper.


Brandon S. Chambers

Great Guests + Lingering Pablo Thoughts

pictures courtesy of Dr.A's Instagram
Guest Talks  
This entire semester has been extremely and intriguing but nothing has been as compelling (and fun!) as our class talks with el Chascas and the actress Marisa Roman. Aside from their insight on production and the differences between mediums (telenovelas and film) and writing for countries what I found most interesting was their back stories. Perhaps it is because I am graduating in May that the stories of their beginnings stuck with me. Both were almost like telenovela stories themselves and they were both so young when they started/got in the thin of their careers, El Chascas was 19 when he came up with a telenovela idea that the network he went to liked. On the spot he argued for his eventual job. That was just so inspiring to me! He has so much personality in English and I'm sure it is even more so when he is speaking in Spanish. It just goes to show that if you know what you are good at go for it. A cliche but in all seriousness, he made this his life. His description of how he writes, not waiting for inspiration but going out and finding in was also inspiring. I wish I had asked him when he knew that he was good at writing, when he knew that was his career.
I wish I had asked Marisa that same thing, only in her case with acting. She is so charming and lovely! And she got her big debut with a part in a work by mega write Leonardo Patron when she was my age now! It just puts your life into perspective. I am really grateful for those talks and the talks to come!

Cannot Forget Pablo
With our consumption presentation I feel like there was still so much to say! The Chili fangirls is a blog topic in and of itself, I once fell for the Chili spell but once they started wanting to kill everyone just so they got paid more I started liking El Chili less and less. But I digress, what I really wanted to talk about was the differences in advertising the novela to Colombian Carcol audiences and to the advertising Telemundo did. I had both of these trailers up in our presentation but did not have time to play them. In the Caracol version they sell it based solely on the myths and kind of 'legend' of Pablo Escobar, ending always with "Que cree?" (top video). Which I thought was supremely interesting and a brilliant way to advertise it after I spoke with my grandparents about the novela. They both were blatant that they did not want romance, blood, guts, or glamour they just wanted to know the how. How he became "bad" (some may say evil), how he (a man) was able to go to war with a country and almost bring that country to its knees. While the Telemundo trailer is much shorter and focuses more on the violence quoting Pablo's most repeated quote: "I will kill you mother, siblings, grandparents, cousins, and friends" (I shortened it). It has a kind of summer blockbuster feel rather than asking the audience to bring whatever questions or myths they previously had about Escobar to their living rooms everyday and what as they get answered, as the Caracol tailer does. I just thought whoever came up with the Caracol version did an excellent job for stirring interest rather than eye rolls about some other biopic that goes more for glam than for truth.

La Telenovela es un Ser Vivo: An Interiew with a Telenovela Writer

"La telenovela es un ser vivo." 
-Dr. A.

These are my favorite quotes from our interview. It's the inside scoop on telenovela writer, El Chascas of Santa Diabla

On Twitter:
"Mis derechos no se discuten ni debaten. Se otrogan, porque me los han robado desde que anaci. Aburrido de esperar por ese 'gran debate.'"

"My rights are not discussed or debated. They are granted, because they have been stolen since birth. Bored of waiting for that 'great debate.'"
 - Chascas Valenzuela 

 The interview:

"Its the only thing I'm good at. I can cook I can dance... but I can write."

 José Ignacio Valenzuela describes his struggle, in which he wrote his first episode at age 19. Since his first published book at age 14, he written for Televisa, TV Azteca, and Telemundo.

"Novelas in Chile are very localist. Plots have to be Chilean.  When you are writing a telenovela of Chile you must be more Chile than ever.." "...como cuando tienes que ser muy universal, no puedes ser profundo.." 
(like when you have something so universal, you cannot be profound)
"En Latin America, es tan absurdo el tema de la piel, porque todos somos una mescla de todo.."
     Chascas has written universal plots, though he is inspired by the social issues in Latin America.

 "When I worked for Mexico  for more thatn 15 years. The good ones are the blond ones. and the bad ones are the Indian ones. [Los indiesitos.] Never in my soap operas are the villains have dark hair, never. In Don Amor, I have African American people. and I always gave them the best professions." 
 "I hate when you are politically correct because you can't say things that you need to say."

"Mexican producers define a novela as, "Es una oferta de esperanza." (They offer hope.) 
"And when you want to talk about reality... and when you want tot show life as it is... I want to sell hope. But at the same time I want to start a discussion."
"And for me, the meaning of success is not a rating. The minute of success.. It's when I'm able to start a discussion with society"

"Mira, Santa Diabla responde a un tipo de novela, que me gusta mucho a mi en particular que es una novela rara. It's weird. It's like La Casa Alado. Es una novela que mescla suspenso, melodrama, terror, y lo mas importante para mi que son novelas que no se pueden predecir. You can't predict, no puedes saber como va terminar.. The audience is not very receptive to those telenovelas specifically in the first episode. "

"My inspiration is Alfred Hitchcock."

"Thats a very good question actually because I don't believe in inspiration. For me this is a job. I live because of my writing. So I can't wait for inspiration in order to have I have ideas. It's me I'm the one who lives outside my house to capture ideas."

"I'm always reading news, Brazilian telenovelas writers always get their ideas from their newspapers. That's a very good way to find new ideas.. Especially if you want to write about ideas that are important to you."

"We all know that when we are in love, we are pretty close to stupidity."

"I don't like revenge, I like judgment. I start to think of the very thin line between revenge and justice." 

"Yo odio cuando en las telenovelas,they thing the audience is stupid, because I don't think that. I think it's the opposite. I think the audiences are clever than they think. And I try to honor that."

 I simply went over our interview. It was a great experience. Thanks to Dr. A and El Chascas.
It was an honor.

My love for telenovelas is growing

                The best (and worst) part of the consumption presentations in class is the fact that I now want to watch pretty much every telenovela that’s been presented… and I have yet to even finish my whole show! It’s crazy how watching just a few short scenes or hearing someone talk about the plot and their favorite parts of the show can get you pretty much hooked. I’ve decided that once I finish La Reina Del Sur, I want to start watching Santa Diabla and Pablo Escobar. Sounds like I’ve got a lot of plans for Winter Break! This just goes to show how catchy and addictive telenovelas can be.
                I thought it was really interesting to hear about the telenovelas that have been off-air for ten years or more that still have a huge fan-base and following. I can’t even imagine being that obsessed with a show twenty years after it aired, or a character even! I guess that is just the nature of a telenovela, however. It’s more than just a show to some people, and I think that has a lot to do with how captivating they are.
                Some of the screenshots from forums that presenters read to us were hilarious. I loved all of the fan-made pictures and scrapbooks from the Corazon Salvaje presentation – the dedication some fans have to a telenovela is just crazy. I mentioned in a previous post how surprised I was by the amount of content there is on forums for telenovelas, and my opinion has been further validated by the content from these presentations. I also really loved the fan made “glitter” video on youtube (maybe some people have a little too much time on their hands.)
                I’ve really enjoyed getting to Skype with a few of Dr. A’s industry connections, too. Skypeing with El Chascas was really interesting – especially hearing how he got started writing telenovelas! I thought the class asked really good questions about his experiences and I enjoyed hearing his answers. The way he explained the differences of writing for telenovelas in different countries was interesting, and makes you realize just how much people have to adapt across different cultures. Skyping with Marisa Roman today was awesome as well. I think she is such a talented actress, even if the only work I've seen of hers is clips that Dr. A has shown in class. It's so awesome to have these experiences in class! 

Telenovelas vs. Series

During the Q&A portion of my Colombian Consumption presentation this week, I was asked my thoughts on the future of telenovelas with the immersion of series. I really liked this question because I have never really thought about it.

A telenovela is watched and consumed usually everyday of the week, while a series is once a week. I think this affects many things such as: production, story lines, and a little bit of consumption.

Although we have only talked about the production of telenovelas in class, I would assume the production of a series only differs in the time constraint. Since an episode in a series is only aired once a week, this gives the writer(s) and production team more time to produce episodes. This allows each episode to be more room for extravagancy I think. For example, El Capo visits many locations in Colombia and later even the United States and also has many expensive props and FX.

The success of El Capo can clearly be seen with its continuation in El Capo 2 and El Capo 3. Although this is giving the audience what it wants (more, everyone always wants more) I think it when compared to telenovelas, the continuation can be a good thing and sometimes a bad thing. Telenovelas have to finish, therefore there has to be a point and a main focus to the story. On the outside this appeals to me because I feel like there would be more meaning. The writer has this many episodes to say what he or she has to say so every episode better be worth it. On the other hand, when you’re actually watching a series or telenovela you love, you obviously never want it to end.

When I finish a book I love, it makes me so happy if there is a sequel. I don’t know what kind of person I would be if JK Rowling decided to end Harry Potter after the first book. (but really… what would life even be like? Would there even be a point?) And on the other hand, would the

I digress...  Having series, allows for more seasons, thus giving the audience more. This can also allow episodes to drag on and can affect the quality, thus affecting the consumption.

I think the Telenovela will continue thriving for many years to come. There will always be people that like both Telenovelas and Series as long as their good.

PR Lessons From Telenovelas

As a public relations major, the huge success of telenovelas is particularly interesting to me. Through the class lectures and consumption presentations, we have become familiar with the intense obsession that exists for these nightly, dramatic episodes. I did some research to try to find out who are the PR wizards behind telenovelas … but to no avail. (When you Google “public relations and telenovelas,” most of the search returns are about Dr. A.) I did find an interesting article by a brand strategist discussing her brief encounter with telenovelas. She is American and speaks no Spanish, but when flipping through the channels one night, she ended up stopping on a telenovela — for a full hour. It was not the content that drew her into the show (she could not understand the dialogue). It was the way in which the content was presented: the music, the gestures, the facial expressions, the tone of the actors’ voices.  From this experience, she drew three content marketing lessons: use emotion, use your hands and volume works wonders.  I thought the article was pretty good, and I decided to think about my own PR lessons that I’ve learned while watching and studying telenovelas:
  1.  Create an escape.
    • This is something Chascas mentioned when he spoke with our class. He said that telenovelas use aesthetically pleasing scenery and avoid visual detractors like graffiti because viewers are looking for a break from the unpleasant aspects of their everyday lives. Often, telenovelas are even shot in beautiful, exotic locations. And of course the (almost always) guaranteed happy endings of telenovelas provide an emotional escape to fans. In the same way, PR professionals can present their clients as providing an escape to their publics. You can give consumers hope (and garner positive sentiment) by offering them a more beautiful reality.
  2. Maintain a strong presence.
    • Obviously, telenovelas maintain a very strong (aka daily) presence in the lives of their viewers. Fans plan to be in the same place at the same time every night to watch their favorite novelas — it’s a powerful relationship. PR professionals can do the same thing for their clients: make the brand a part of people’s daily lives and position the client as a dependable friend. In one of my PR internships, a boss told me, “There’s no such thing as too much branding.” So make your brand present. If people see your brand every day, they’ll expect to see your brand every day. They will associate it with comfort, routine and reliability. They will trust it.
  3. Be bold.
    • Telenovelas are big, bold and dramatic. They are not afraid of being over-the-top. Exaggeration works. I think awareness of one’s audience is crucial, however, to the success of this boldness. Overstatement might not be the appropriate approach for every demographic, but telenovelas are just striking enough for their particular audience. There are a lot of brands in the world and a lot of competition for consumers’ attention. If you don’t stand out, you’ll get lost in the clutter. PR pros need to know their audiences, create appropriate strategies and be bold in the implementation. Make an impression, and be memorable. 

Any other PR peeps out there? What best practices have struck you?

The Importance of Network Competition: Colombia vs. Venezuela

It is amazing to think that simple competition between networks could have such a huge impact on the quality of a telenovela. This impact can be seen in the cases of Colombia and Venezuela. Both countries have enjoyed a lucrative telenovela industry. However, Colombia’s quality and international recognition is expanding while Venezuela is seeing these two aspects decline. This has to do with the fact that RCN and Caracol, the two leading networks in Colombia are always in competition with ratings and viewers. On the other hand, Venezuela does not enjoy this healthy competition between networks anymore after the government of Hugo Chavez began to censor a lot of aspects in Venezuela’s daily existence. For this reason, many television stations in this country began to censor themselves because they were under constant threat of being sanctioned or put off the air. Those networks that decided to continue criticizing the government like RCTV, obtained the harshest penalties. In the case of RCTV, its license with the

government was not renewed and as a result it was not able to go on air after May 2007. With this blow to the television industry, Venevision no longer has a competitor. This in turn has caused the telenovela industry in this country to decline. With so much censorship and no one to compete with, Venevision has begun to create a more universalistic telenovela to export with a lot more self-censorship. What is interesting to me is that Venezuelan telenovelas were already doing great in the export market without having to be universalistic. The mannerisms and ways of speaking of the Venezuelans attracted other countries. There was no need to go in this route. On the other hand, I can see where this network is coming from. With no competition and the government always watching what it was saying in its television programming, a new form of producing telenovelas had to be created. Venezuela is going through hard economic and political times and like in many other cases, this is reflected in the quality of its television programming. 

In Colombia’s case, Caracol and RCN are in constant competition for ratings. With minimal government censorship and new genres of telenovelas such as the narco-novela gaining popularity, this industry is flourishing. Much like Venezuela almost 20 years before, Colombian telenovelas are going through a golden period in my opinion. Even though this industry is definitely not universalistic, people from a vast array of countries love watching them. I think what makes them so popular is the fact that they are so “Colombian.” Its entertaining to see the different accents and mannerisms of each region of the county. I feel that this industry is going to continue growing in Colombia if it keeps on following the same path. Productions are becoming more elaborate, the story lines are well written, and the dialogue is thought out. Some examples of the great production and overall quality of Colombian telenovelas which have had both success nationally and internationally include Pablo Escobar: El Patron del Mal, Yo Soy Betty la Fea, and Sin Tetas No Hay Paraiso
Competition is very important to the television industry, especially the telenovela one. Without competition networks are not as inclined to spend generous amounts of money and produce thought out telenovelas. This in turn not only affects the quality of a telenovela, but it also affects the average viewer in this country who is forced to watch subpar programming.  Colombia is a great example of how competition is helping create intricate and award winning productions. Hopefully Venezuela is able to once again produce competitive telenovelas worldwide in the near future when more television networks are able to compete against each other and the watchful eye of the government is eliminated. For now, we will just have to enjoy the amazing telenovelas Colombia is producing. 




Our Skype interview with El Chascas was absolutely amazing! I usually get star-struck but, he was a lovable, genuine person. He even revealed to us that he agreed with the critics – the male protagonist in Santa Diabla is not as strong as the male antagonist, causing a large amount of sexual tension between him and the female protagonist. By giving the protagonist many action scenes, El Chascas attempted to redeem him as the strong, hunky man he was intended to be.

The most interesting thing El Chascas talked about was his style as a writer. Oddly enough, he said he doesn’t believe in inspiration. This is because writing is his job. Everyday he is paid to write, regardless of whether he feels inspired. He noted that he only writes about things he disagrees with in order to communicate something entertaining, not romanticized and boring. I loved when he compared himself to Alfred Hitchcock, a director who is famous for his element of surprise. Growing up, I loved watching Rear Window and (was terrified of) The Birds. With these comparisons in mind, I now understand more clearly the way that El Chascas writes -- each episode reveals small details until there is a climactic moment of energy and chaos.
            Speaking with El Chascas was one of my favorite moments in class so far! And I am sad that means the end is near… :(

               PATRON DEL MAL
            Since this is my last blog post before the final paper, I would like to give some final thoughts on Patron del Mal. Right now I am on episode 46 and I hope to have the series finished in the next week and a half. At this point, Pablo’s appearance has changed dramatically from the beginning of the novella. He looks older in the face and has put on at least 20 lbs. His demeanor has also changed – his compassion for others is EXTREMELY limited. He is now the notorious drug dealer I was waiting for him to become. While I am anticipating the worst, I realize I still have a while to go before he gets caught.
            Overall, I am very satisfied with the telenovela I chose. I knew that I would get bored of an overdramatic and romanticized series. Fortunately, Patron del Mal is based on something that matters. His global influence and national influence is indisputable and I have definitely enjoyed watching him evolve as a character. From being bullied as a young boy to trying to fit in with the ‘Old Money’ to earning respect through fear as a major player in Columbian politics.  

Coming from a family of Cuban refugees, I understand a little better the emotional response of Columbians whose lives were directly altered by Escobar. You buy into the ‘business’ or you risk endangering yourself and your family (why my family was forced to flee after Castro took over). And because I am a International Affairs major, the social and economic consequences that came as the result of one man is awe-inspiring to say the least. From the data we gathered from social networking sites in the Consumption project, people were extremely divided on their opinions of the show. While some felt that it gloried Escobar, others thought it was a story that needed to be told to the new generation. This relates to a discussion that I hoped to bring about in class after our Consumption Presentation. How much power should television have in relation to sensitive topics? Who should tell a historical account when there are so many perspectives? Although we didn’t have time, I wanted to see what everyone thought about using TV as a mechanism for showing social change. Maybe this will come up again when we discuss censorship?

***On a side note, my father recommended I check out this documentary about Pablo Escobar’s love for soccer and ultimately, his relation to the Columbian soccer team. Appropriately named The Two Escobars, Andres Escobar was murdered when he accidentally scored a goal in the Columbian goal on their path to the World Cup. The documentary examines soccer at the time of Escobar as well as the relationship between national identity, soccer, and the drug lords.

I watched the trailer and it looks good! Has anyone seen it by chance?