Mexican Novelas Are Fun, But Reinforce Negative Stereotypes

 By Wuicho Vargas

Mexico is awesome, I will never deny that fact, but one thing that’s particularly Mexican to me is the fact that we like novelas. We love the awesome Mexican soap operas because they are our drug to avoid certain harsh realities — they are also very entertaining.

I have nothing against the daily fix of Mexican novelas to alleviate certain worries and avoid certain realities. What I am really worried or against is the social class exploitation that gets portrayed on every novela. Televisa is the champion of novelas and they have somehow formulated an equation that guarantees certain success. Their novelas are always filled with passion, love, betrayal, money, rich, poor, mustaches, horses, haciendas amongst other very “Mexican” things. All of this sounds great because by all means every Mexican novela is a creative work therefore it should contain limit less probabilities.

Here is a list of things you will find in novelas which portray class distinction at its best:

  1. They will have a rich guy falling in love with the poor girl.
  2. They will have a priest that is always nosing on everyone’s business.
  3. This priest will be the link between the rich and poor.
  4.  The priest will have a kid, which will question the purity of the clergy, very cleverly.
  5. The poor will speak very colorful and with a peculiar accent also known as chilango.
  6. In novelas the people from Northern Mexico all wear sombreros and have mustaches, people from the south of Mexico will have colorful clothes and sometimes, there have been cases, they resemble indigenous people.
  7.  The rich become poor and the poor become rich.
  8. The poor are humble, the rich are arrogant.
  9. Real, authentic Mexicans will never be the heroes or protagonists. Instead they will have someone with colored eyes or even blondes. The more conventional Mexican image does not suffice in this equation: estar chaparrito, morenito, no facial hair and brown. That only works if they are servants, ignorant, low class and without class.
  10. La vecindad, or the apartment complex will be there with people celebrating every religious party and the religious side of Mexico gets exposed.  Everyone in Mexico loves La Virgin de Guadalupe.

There are more things that you could easily spot on every novela but since time and space are very limited I should continue with this.

Novelas exploit and generalize every region of Mexico and diminish the real true Mexican image. When have you seen a morenito, and chaparrito as a protagonist? Those kinds of features are present on the majority of people in Mexico, they have a much greater tie to the roots of Mexico. Novelas do not show this. They will always portray Mexico filled with color-eyed dudes with dark hair.  Even the poor guys in the novelas have these “bonito” features.

We know this, oh yes we do.  Maybe the influence of novelas has gotten so out of proportion in our Mexican culture that we have created an imaginary world filled with plastic trees. Most of the cultural growth revolves around novelas and the influence of Televisa. It is really annoying to see that the real Mexicans can only make it as servants and probably gardeners.

Maybe, just maybe, I’m getting too annoyed by this because I hate Televisa, television and other commercial crud that is fed to us Mexicans on a daily basis. Or just maybe, I really love Mexico and wished to see a more intelligent and informed individual who can distinguish between entertainment from plain absurd and hurtful cultural commercialization.

After all of this nonsense let us hope some sense was made here. If I was morenito, chaparrito and watched novelas constantly, I would probably feel weird about my future.  I would try to be some rich guy’s worker and hope that he has a daughter who would like me so I could fall in love with her and become rich. Also, I would get in contact with the priest who has a secret daughter from a secret passionate love with a rich girl whose love was not approved by his or her parents. Then, I would appreciate these novelas — because they would have become true.

Yes, I know novelas are fictional and untrue but, c’mon. They are an exaggeration of our reality — but these exaggerations have become astronomical in nature. Give me a real Mexican protagonist and instead of “bonito” covering Mexico. Let a Mexican with brown eyes and black hair be a hero for once. Help me believe that all Mexicans don’t live in well-decorated apartments without having to work for a living, anything, but show me our awesome culture in a way that’s just a little bit more real.

Wuicho Vargas is a writer who lives in McAllen, Texas.

[Photo By dno1967b]

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