Thursday, September 3, 2015

Initial Thoughts and More: "El Privilegio de Amar"

Telenovelas are a genre unfamiliar to me prior to this class and yet I am already so hooked and fascinated by them and their role in Latin American society. I found it very interesting to learn in class of the various components that comprise telenovelas: a central love story, characters meeting and falling in love in the beginning, obstacles/problems/misunderstandings in the middle, and then a happy ending. The idea, too, of despecho highlights the underlying motive of the telenovela and how everything stemming from deep internal conflict or issues of the heart can lead to external turmoil and unsatisfied characters.

I've chosen to watch "El Privilegio de Amar" this semester. I've only just begun and am still on the first few episodes, but the basic plot line is that of a young maid, Luciana, who is employed by the Velarde family. Juan de la Cruz, the Velarde's son, is preparing to leave for seminary to become a priest. He and Luciana sleep together the night before he goes, which results in Luciana becoming pregnant.

From various scenes in the first episode, I was already able to draw the idea of the Cinderella representation to this particular telenovela, which also I would say is very much on the Rosa side. Luciana is beautiful, poor, and connected to her faith; the opening scene of episode one has her distressed, crying and praying to God. When Luciana goes to help carry Juan's laundry to his car, he comments on how smart and talented she is. He says that when she first arrived to work, she knew very little, but now she has so much potential and is learning her times tables. This is a good illustration of this stereotypical Cinderella typology. Juan has the upperhand, coming from an upperclass family, going to seminary, and admired by all.

When Juan de la Cruz is first introduced, it's in a scene with him and his mother. It's obvious that his mother puts him on a pedestal and thinks very highly of the fact that he is becoming a priest. We later find out that he feels pressured into this vocation, saying he wasn't able to think for himself. I'm particularly intrigued by the role of Catholicism in this telenovela and hope to discover more about how it's portrayed and carried out throughout the episodes.

Some of the reasons in class we discussed today of why the Cinderella theme works could end up being applicable to "El Privilegio de Amar" as well:
-Stark contrasts
-Dreams/fairy tales as key ingredients (wanting what you can't have; e.g. Juan wanting to be with a woman before he has to give that up by vowing his chastity in priesthood)
-Global feminization of poverty
-Plots that rely on reversals of fortune resonating in cultures accustomed to economic uncertainty

I'm excited to keep exploring this telenovela. Other elements I want to pay close attention to are the music, costumes, and setting. I noticed whenever Luciana and Juan were together, the same cheerful tune played in the background. It's interesting how the almost subconscious components of the telenovela can contribute in just as big of a way as the actual dialogue and character interactions.

1 comment:

  1. This is a very interesting post, Maggie. Thank you for sharing about the telenovela you chose to study! From how you described the plot, it does indeed sound like a typical “Cinderella” story — a poor, beautiful woman falling in love with a wealthy man who is aspiring to become a priest.

    As you stated also, I am particularly fascinated by the role of Catholicism that seems to be visible in the storyline. In class, we discussed how telenovelas serve as a country’s voice and platform for discussing economic, social and government issues. The storylines in telenovelas “represent” reality in some shape or form, whether it is an exact representation or a blurred representation. Dr. A mentioned that many people will describe a telenovela as a mirror, or an exact reflection of society, while others will say it is a lens, with some aspects of society magnified and others minimized. This concept is fascinating in and of itself, as humanity attributes high validity to many things despite not knowing the source. However, as a class, we ultimately agreed that a telenovela, a movie, a news article or video is a version of reality regardless of the source. This idea is what intrigues me about the role of Catholicism in El Privilegio de Amar.

    I think it would be worth paying attention to how the telenovela portrays Catholicism. Are the producers casting Catholicism in a negative light? Are they encouraging viewers to frown upon Catholicism as a result of its “strict” rules and laws that a priest must remain celibate? Is Juan’s mothers’ greed and concern for appearance something that the producers want you to attribute to the Catholic leaders in society? To me, it seems as though the producers may be taking a piece of reality and twisting it to make viewers adopt an idea about Catholicism. Let me know what you think—thanks for bringing up such an interesting topic!