Telenovelas. I have been told that these are different from soap operas. They have an ending, for one, even if it is revoltingly cliche. But I think, unless it takes a unique angle or the romance is not the driving plot then I will never have a place in my heart for telenovelas.

My biggest criticism of Avatar was that its plot was too soft and formulaic. I am a digital media major, hoping to model and animate creatures like those that appeared in Avatar – obviously the part of the movie that James Cameron wished to highlight most – but it appears I cannot even separate the innate writer in me.

The whole point of the article about telenovelas is just how much broad appeal they have. Their stories are based on a cliche, but there is a reason why – they are tried and true and tested. Not everyone can engage in an intricate story for years on end, but telenovelas are easy to go back to after a long spell.

But the writer in me won’t give up without a fight. Just because cliches work doesn’t mean that’s all the audience wants. I personally enjoy keeping the audience guessing. The feeling comes with being a writer much like putting our own characters through hell. It’s what we do.

The United States apparently does not have a place in its heart for them either since the writers apparently butchered ‘Ugly Betty’ and now it’s been canceled. Aside from ‘Ugly Betty,’ I find it interesting that telenovelas are having a hard time in the United States for the whole population, not simply the Hispanic American niche. There’s an article in Television Week from 2007, which states, “Advertisers are eager to romance the continually growing domestic Hispanic audience, estimated at 43 million and rising….reaching 71.7 percent in 2010, up from 69.9 percent in 2005.” And basically the advertisers would like to invest in more telenovelas since they are so popular in Latin America.

(Article can be found here.)

The U.S. has this predominant view that telenovelas are soap operas and only middle-aged home mothers would care about them. However, networks are always looking for smash hit shows and if ‘Ugly Betty’ could start off so well on a main network for all of America rather than just Hispanic America, why haven’t there been more attempts to purchase licensing fees for other hit shows? Is it national pride in our own Hollywood productions that we limit our foreign consumption (can we really be blamed for our concern on this? I mean, we already owe China trillions of dollars in debt from our imports) or is there something else? I find it difficult to believe that a main network wouldn’t at least try a telenovela if it meant millions of dollars rolling in.

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Japanimation

February 21, 2010

I, for one, have never been a terribly big fan of anime. I’ve seen some shows and movies and it’s very rare when I can’t at least enjoy myself. Cowboy Bebop, Vampire Hunter D(2nd movie. Haven’t seen the original), Gundam Wing, Chobits, Princess Mononoke and the list goes on. They have all been good in their own strange way, but there is one in particular that really stands out to me: Gundam Wing.

I have heard anime fans both decry and praise it all at once and I think part of its charm for me is mostly due to nostalgia. I watched Toonami on Cartoon Network during its golden years and Gundam Wing was one of those animations. The target audience was roughly 11-15 years old and yet here was an anime that not only feature big robots, but also a little bit of edited violence (Cartoon Network would later air the show uncut at midnight) and very adult topics such as politics and war.

I own the whole series on DVD and I have watched it again. It is a thick show. Much too complex and intelligent for young teens to fully grasp and I think that’s the reason why I still like it today. Another thing that has going for it is that it had an end! I’m looking at you Dragon Ball Z. It spawned multiple spin-offs, but it actually finished the show and in 49 episodes. Not bad.

As the article by Shinobu Price said, “Animation here [in the United States] is predominantly kiddy fair.” I actually wondered if people working on Toonami who purchased the licensing fee to air Gundam Wing really thought kids were made of tougher stuff and would love it or if they merely stereotyped it as “kiddy fair.” I think that because Toonami aired it uncut later at night points to the fact that they were not oblivious to the violence and political content and even their other line-up of shows implies that Toonami was not for the little kids of 5 and 6 years old, but for teenagers who can handle a lot more: Sailor Moon, Reboot, Dragonball Z, Outlaw Star, Gundam Wing and it’s other spin-offs.

Even in the United States, private adult jokes are often sneaked into Disney animations. I have had the privilege to view most of these cartoons a second time as a college student and there are jokes in Reboot that I never picked up on when I was 11-years-old. I think animation is underrated by adults in the United States, but now that the generation that first saw these animations and played video games is growing up, the market for anime will open up a little bit more.

China; Land of the Dragon

February 14, 2010

I felt it was fitting that I post this on their New Years Day. I actually went to the auditorium to watch the New Years performance the Chinese students were putting on and to support a friend. It was really quite entertaining.

That aside…China itself really confuses me. I don’t know how they do it, but I cannot reconcile their political system with their market. It’s communist, so everything should belong to the people on an equal level – or that’s what Marx devised – but they have a Capitalist society, which is pretty much in and of itself based on personal profit. What makes their government Communist? Well, as per a government other than capitalist, they pretty much control the media with an iron fist, and just about anyone making a living as a journalist or even a writer must fear for their freedom whenever they publish something. China has arrested more journalists in its country than any either this past year!

As I’m certain I mentioned before, I am a rather big proponent of freedom of speech. I certainly would not be writing this blog, unless it were to be a censored addition, if I didn’t in some ways support freedom of speech. It’s partly how I can reconcile supporting a system like the Capitalist system.

Capitalism is really, truly an ugly system. It seems to be founded mostly on the idea of making a profit, no matter whom you hurt or what negative effects it might have on the land or the government. Regulated Capitalism, like in this country, is pretty much the closest you can get to a pure capitalist society. It’s difficult to agree with the common man when you also recognize the evils of capitalism, but Communism is impossible and capitalism offers the highest quality of life for the greatest amount of people. The advances in technology in the past twenty years are staggering, and they are as a result of capitalism. The high quality in that technology and in everything else is also a result of capitalism: if you want the consumer to buy then you better have a good product or you won’t make any money.

…and I run off onto a tangent. Again. Hard not to when you’re talking about China and its political system. But while we’re talking about political systems:

I am supposed to believe that Tibet is a part of China. It seems now that we have satellites to improve communication around the world, not a single country has not gone undefined. There might still be some islands or kingdoms that have not permeated the general knowledge, but for the most part the lines are drawn and every country knows what land is theirs and what isn’t. But China just cannot seem to get over the fact that Tibet and Taiwan are supposed to be sovereign nations.

But, unfortunately, the United States’ hands are pretty much tied. I think privately we pretty much agree that Tibet is separate from China, but for fear of China asking us to pay our trillion dollar debt to them from imports keeps us from coming out and saying it.

Canada, O Canada

February 7, 2010

I’ve only been there a couple of times and each time just briefly. Niagara Falls was beautiful though, but rumors of the absolute blistering cold there means I’ll likely only ever visit there in the summer time.

I have a couple of friends in Canada and the article we had to read described virtually what I had already suspected. I knew Quebec was largely French-speaking, but I was a little surprised to hear that French is still very much a widely used language up there. One of my friends did say that all government officials had to be fluent in it if they wanted a job. I definitely admire their efforts to keep both languages alive in the country, though I can imagine it’s a little difficult.

And it’s probably made twice as difficult by a media powerhouse like the United States constantly muscling in on their airwaves. This has been discussed before, but media from the United States, particularly blockbuster hits, seems to proliferate the rest of the world while we only get the bare minimum of foreign films. I still kind of wish we got more. Loved Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Its spiritual predecessors were good, too, but not quite to the degree that I loved the first movie. Hero comes a close second though.

Pan’s Labyrinth was amazing, too. Now if only I could get over the violence in that movie. There wasn’t even that much, but it just barely squeaked past my usual threshold. Seen it twice and I’ll probably see it one more time.

Now Degrassi – I know it’s a TV show and this is a leap! – I had never even heard of that show and apparently it’s Canadian and it’s actually quite big in Global Syndication. Only thing is I’ll probably gouge my eyes out before I watch it. If it talks like The OC and walks like The OC then I’ll flip to the next channel.

I never have quite understood this unbelievable fascination with soaps. I suppose it’s the reason why I found myself able to watch Fullhouse the other day when my roommate was in control of the TV. I can’t believe I used to watch that show when I was young and there was enough cheese to melt the screen! But it’s at least a watered down soap at best. I guess it’s nice and consistent that I don’t read crappy romance novels either. I’ll watch Firefly – still haven’t seen it! – before I watch something akin to Degrassi.

I abandoned reading Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time after it started turning into its own soap opera. I just read the cliff notes version of Twilight and I thought my brain was going to start running out of my ears in a liquefied mush after the eyesore of those novels.

I think it’s pretty easy to see I’m a Sci-Fi/Fantasy girl. Tasteful romance intermixed is great, just watch out for the goop.

Venezuela

February 7, 2010

No cheesy or even slightly clever titles today. I’ve got nothing.

I remember Hugo Chavez featured pretty heavily in the media during the tail end of the Bush years and I wonder where he’s gone since. I know there was a slight hullabaloo when Obama met him, but since he seems to have sunk back below the media’s eyesight he apparently doesn’t find Obama as much a threat as Bush.

When I first heard of Chavez, I remember he thought Bush might invade his country. As has been stated in many of my previous posts, I really don’t trust the U.S. media and they seemed to be painting him as a slightly threatening figure to the Bush administration so I took little stock in what they actually said. But very little else was reaching me about Venezuela. He didn’t seem very threatening, and the documentary in class pretty much confirmed my initial impressions of him:

A blustery, pompous man and that’s about it. He’s no real threat – to anybody – except perhaps the people in his country. I think just about everyone can agree that the Communist Manifesto looks great on paper, but once you actually try to enact it, everything just falls apart. People, and I speak of the species as a whole, just are not content with the bare minimum. There are always exceptions to the rule, but our natural instinct appears to be one that wants nothing more than to dominate over his neighbors. In the case of Americans, that usually quantifies as having more material goods than the next person.

I certainly cannot speak for Venezuela in this regard. I know very, very little about the country other than Hugo Chavez was actually democratically elected and it has some of the biggest oil reserves in the world. And from what I learned in the article the class had to read and the documentary we watched, he was not an entirely bad leader. It brought most of the people out of poverty and even made the country largely literate. That’s something to admire, but it appears from the end of the documentary that his time as the leader of Venezuela is likely waning.

Now, to clumsily segue into the potential article for this, Hugo Chavez – and this is going to sound very bizarre – reminds me of Sarah Palin.

Oh Palin. Could someone please knock her off the stage already? She still knows nothing about politics! If the Tea Party actually considers her a leader and is willing to follow her then they need to wake up from their dream.

Obama was hammered throughout his campaign for having so little experience in a national office. What does Palin have in the way of experience? She was a small town mayor. That’s it! She didn’t even complete her first term of office as governor of Alaska!

All pomp and bluster and knowing very little about international politics let alone national politics. Hillary Clinton had brains and experience and I still didn’t want to see her in office.

At least Obama is a constitutional lawyer and knows the limits of his power. Can’t say the same for Bush and definitely not Palin.

3/8/10
And yet here is another instance of Hugo Chavez attempting to get a rise out of the US.

Only a week earlier, he had been accused by Spain for plotting with ex-Rebels to assassinate the President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. I just spent twenty minutes trying to find the article that covers it, but apparently CNN no longer covers Hugo Chavez, however the presumed attacks were mentioned in the link above.