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The International Encyclopedia of Media Studies, 7 Volume Set by Fabienne Darling-Wolf, Radhika Parameswaran, Erica Scharrer, Vicki Mayer, Sharon Mazzarella, Kelly Gates, John Nerone, Angharad N. Valdivia

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16

Imagination and Censorship, Fiction and Reality

Producing a Telenovela in a Time of Political Crisis

Carolina Acosta-Alzuru

ABSTRACT

Telenovelas seem an unlikely arena for political discourse. In 2003–2004 the Venezuelan telenovela Cosita Rica aired, in the middle of the country's political crisis and its deep polarization around the figure of President Hugo Chávez. In addition to the usual love stories, Cosita Rica included characters who were metaphors of the protagonists on the political scene (one character's story was an allegory for Chávez), plots that reflected the embedding of politics in Venezuelans' everyday life, and a storyline that mirrored the presidential recall referendum of August 2004. This chapter examines how Cosita Rica was produced in a time of political turmoil. It is an open window into the life span of telenovela production; through it we are able to observe the writing and the mise en scène processes and how the commercial demands of the genre, the audience's readings, the comments of the entertainment press, and the government's censorship played a fundamental role in Cosita Rica's production.

Telenovelas, long considered by some to be “the most watched television genre in the world” (McAnany & La Pastina, 1994), are melodramatic serials that focus on a central story of heterosexual love plagued with misunderstandings and obstacles. These melodramas seem an unlikely arena for political discourse. However, political commentary has been present in ...

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