Thursday, September 17, 2015

Brainstorming for my Representation & Identity Report

Where do I even begin?

I have always been appreciative of free prompts and guidelines in my college classes. I find it beneficial to my learning as a student when a professor takes heavy parameters away from writing, such as Dr. A has done for us in this assignment. Therefore, the Representation & Identity Report assignment could not be more perfect for me and my research on telenovelas... or could it? If all expectations for this assignment are favorable, then why am I having such a difficult time trying to decide what to focus on?

I assume that I am having this issue simply because my chosen telenovela for this assignment is La Reina del Sur. The story of Teresa Mendoza is so distinct and diverse. It is hard for me to layout and plan a paper focusing on the representations and identities depicted in the telenovela when they are each so vast. In lecture, we have discussed how topics like gender, ethnicity, and sexual orientation can all relate to representations and identities in the world of telenovela production. I feel that each individual topic can be considered very general in the broad scope of telenovela stories, yet can also be very specific when tailored to the story of a character.

If I wrote my paper on gender, I could discuss how Teresa is not like most female leads in telenovelas. The struggles that she had to endure following the death of Guero made her very independent and self-confident. She emulates a character who is very sure of herself and her decision-making capabilities. This differs from the traditional female role presented in the majority of telenovelas.

If I wrote my paper on ethnicity, I could discuss how Teresa identifies with her Mexican roots in Spain. She is nicknamed "la mexicana" by everyone she encounters abroad, and even sometimes has issues with language idioms and pronunciation that differs between Mexican Spanish and Traditional Spanish. In addition, I could elaborate on the presentation on Moroccan culture in Spain and how the language and customs are portrayed in the eyes of the characters.

If I wrote my paper on sexual orientation, I could discuss how, so far in my viewing of the telenovela, every romantic interaction is heterosexual. The prostitution club, Yamila, that Teresa and her friends work at, helps to add to this notion of man-to-woman sexual contact as being the norm. There is a certain air of male dominance and female submission demonstrated with the use of this club.

With all of these examples, it is evident that La Reina del Sur contains many elements that relate to the topics of  representation and identity. I could write a paper that encompasses details on each of these topics, or I could write a paper that singles out one topic and dives deeper into its evaluation. Needless to say, I have a lot of thinking and work to do before Tuesday, September 29th!


  1. Hi Gabrielle,

    I think it's so funny and interesting that you also took this opportunity to help organize some thoughts for your Representation and Identity Report because as I sat down to write my blog post (which I am procrastinating right now by responding to your post), that is exactly what I wanted to write about as well! My struggle is a little bit different than yours because I am currently watching 2 very different telenovelas, "El secretario" and "Lo que la vida me róbo," and I have a lot analysis and brainstorming to do before I can even begin to write my paper. It will also help if I watch more episodes of at least one of them to get some better examples and hopefully help me pinpoint different things to write about.

    It seems like you have a great grasp on how your telenovela relates to the topics we discussed in class. If I were in your situation, I think I would write a paper that encompasses details on each of the topics, like you mentioned in your post, rather than focusing on one topic simply because I think you have made some really great observations. I think the paper would be very enlightening to read about each of the different ways your telenovela represents and identifies with various aspects of society.

    Good luck with the report!

    1. Jessie,

      I am glad that we were thinking on the same page! I just submitted my Representation & Identity Report to Dr. A, and it was so helpful for me to refer back to my brainstorm while I was writing! I actually ended up choosing gender to be the main theme for my report, but I was able to talk about the different female characteristics that my protagonist obtains, in order to elaborate on the concept overall. Brainstorms are always useful in putting all of your thoughts down in one, central place. I hope that your outline was able to help you as well! Happy writing!

  2. Gabrielle - I agree with Jessie it's so funny that I just wrote my blog post and then started reading others to comment on and came across yours. I think I may have commented on your last post too (hope I'm not annoying you haha).

    Anyways, I also am watching La Reina del Sur. I have been brainstorming for my Representation and Identity report and was deciding between writing about ethnicity or gender. I listed out everything I could discuss under each of the categories and decided gender had more. I guess I could have wrote about both of them like you stated above. Anyways, because I want to write my report on gender, I just wrote my blog post on all of the ideas I had come up with on ethnicity. I didn't want them to go to waste and I found a lot of the same things interesting as you did.

    When discussing ethnicity I talked a lot about Teresa and the term "La Mexicana." In most of the episodes "La Mexicana" comes across as normal because Teresa will introduce herself as this or her best friend will call her it. However, there several cases when Sheila calls her "Mexicana" and it is very offensive and rude. I believe that this term is not racist unless it is placed in a racist comment such as Shelia trying to bash Teresa and get her sent back to Mexico. What do you think?

    Also, I discussed the fact that all of the protagonists are light-skinned. I would have never noticed this characteristic if we had not discussed the topic under ethnicity in class. Dr. A. let us know that majority of protagonists are light-skinned because they are associated with a higher economic status. She told us about one of the telenovelas that had a dark-skinned protagonist that did not get very good ratings - I was very surprised by this! I wonder if we will ever come across any other darker-skinned characters in La Reina del Sur but so far I have not noticed even one.

    1. Lindsey,

      Thanks for your comment! I read your blog post on ethnicity in "La Reina del Sur," and I really enjoyed your analysis! I agree with a lot of your points, and I was able to recognize things like the nickname "la mexicana" during my independent watching as well. You bring up a great point about the term being used in both a positive and a negative light by different characters. I always found it endearing when someone would compliment her by calling her "la mexicana."

      To be honest with you, until you mentioned it, I had never considered the fact that all of the characters thus far are lighter skinned. I guess that we will have to keep watching to discover if this changes or not!