As I have learned more about telenovelas this semester, I have become more and more surprised about their impact on society in Latin America. The social impact that telenovelas have is incredibly interesting to me because I really don’t notice anything like that happening within the American culture. From what I have read, it seems as though during the creation and production of telenovelas, the social impact of the story is taken into consideration. Whereas, I feel in the US, the producers and screenwriters are really just aiming to entertain.
Specifically, what I found captivating about telenovelas is their promotion of a healthy lifestyle. When I began reading the article Love, Tears, Betrayal… and Health Messages, my original impression was about telenovelas having to do with drugs and the Cartel. I began to wonder how telenovelas in general were able to promote healthy living when some telenovelas were centered around drug empires. However, my concerns were quickly put to rest when I began to read the article. Telenovelas don’t necessarily encourage you to eat your fruits and vegetables, instead they promote healthy relationships, encouraging messages, and many other ways to battle negative aspects of life that people are faced with every day.
When telenovelas were first created in the 1960s, they began as radio theater stories. However, as they quickly captivated the Latin American audience with the premise of betrayal, forbidden love, and punishment, telenovelas began to spread beyond their Spanish-speaking audience. The stage for telenovelas was quickly and drastically expanded overseas. But Why? I know that is what I first wondered. I mean yeah, a dramatic love story is great and all, but what did telenovelas have that other productions didn’t? I Found that what makes telenovelas so mesmerizing to the audience is the fact that the audience can easily identify themselves and even other people that they know with the characters in the story. The audience has an easy time relating to the twists and turns that the plot provides because they are extremely realistic.
As a result, professional health communicators throughout Latin America began to truly see the giant stage telenovelas had earned itself. So, why not use them to promote health and positive life-skills? As is expected, the messages started very simple, but over time they became deeper in meaning. There was a situation listed in the article that was fascinating to me. A character on Venezuela’s Cristal was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. This immediately had a ripple effect in which an avalanche of female patients from Venezuela and Spain went to get check-ups. This directly shows how telenovelas pointed out the reality of cancer which resulted in females immediately going to get check-ups. Thus, that telenovela was able to promote good health because more and more women were lead to go and receive a check-up. I believe that they were able to relate to the emotion the characters faced when the tragedy of cancer struck and didn’t want that to happen to them.
In conclusion, I am positively surprised almost every Wednesday in class by the effects telenovelas have had on society. At first it might sound outrageous hearing that a dramatic love story could drive people to live a healthier lifestyle, but just look at what happened with the telenovela Cristal. I truly believe that telenovelas have evolved into an art form that plays a crucial role in societies all over the world, not just Latin America.