Futbol and telenovelas

Posted by: | March 19, 2009 | Comments Off on Futbol and telenovelas

The readings for this week talked about two very important areas of Latin American popular culture: futbol and telenovelas. The first reading, by Alex Bellos, is entitled Futebol: The Brazilian Way of Life, and it underlines the prominent position of futbol in Latin American culture in general, and Brazilian culture specifically. One of the defining moments in Brazilian futbol outlined by the article was the loss of the World Cup in 1950 to Uruguay. In fact, this was such a momentous blow to Brazil that the article opens with a quote likening this ‘irremmediable national catastrophe’ to the bombing of Hiroshima. While in my view this is an exaggeration, it does demonstrate the importance of futbol in everyday life. Futbol can unite or divide a people, depending on the teams playing.
In the case of Brazil’s loss to Uruguay in 1950, the effect on the nation was a lasting one. One of the quotes which struck me the most in the reading was said about the goalkeeper, Barbossa, 20 years after the match- “He is the man that made all of Brazil cry”. I think this quote perfectly captures the mentality of any nation which loves futbol and has suffered a crushing blow; it illustrates just how entrenched futbol is in everyday life. I think that people who don’t live in a place with such strong ties to a sport find this hard to understand; even Canadians, with our supposedly legendary love for hockey, don’t come close to matching the fervour of Latin American nations for futbol.
The second phenomenon of Latin American culture is the telenovela. I had always thought of these programs as soap operas; however, Ortega delineates the differences between telenovelas and the North American soap operas. Telenovelas have more evolving storylines, while soap operas remain fairly unchanging and get repetitive; most importantly, soap operas show an “artificial” world and are based on the lives of the class. Contrary to this, telenovelas show “reality”, and they show the contrast between rich and poor.
Seeing as I have never watched a telenovela, I have no personal experience to draw on here; however, from the reading it seems that these telenovelas generate a far greater audience than the soap operas here, and thus have a far greater impact upon culture and society.


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