Pushing Policy Through Mexican Telenovelas
In recent Mexican news, there has been some talk about an energy reform. One of the biggest and most contentious issues being discussed is whether the state-owned oil company, PEMEX, should be allowed to receive foreign investment. Whether it should or it shouldn’t is not the topic of this post.
A couple of months ago, a YouTube user uploaded this clip from the telenovela Corazón Indomable.
Translating, and attempting to keep the tone of the conversation, the dialog goes something like this:
Woman 1: “Is there an inconvenience ma’am?”
Woman 2: “I didn’t think that a foreigner could have property in this island.”
Woman 1: “Yes, we are happy that is so. We would be sad if we didn’t have investment from abroad.”
Woman 2: “Why?”
Woman 1: “Because places prosper with everyone’s talent, national and foreign.”
Woman 2: “Hmm, but foreigners take the money with them, no?
Woman 1: “Money comes and goes, what you’re talking about with the Emir, he practically leaves it here because he spends it here.”
[Some talk about the Emir.]
Woman 2: “Well, every day you learn something new.”
Woman 1: “And what did you learn today?”
Woman 2: “Well, that foreign investment is really necessary and convenient.”
Woman 1: “Don’t doubt it. Without disparaging the national ones, of course.”
Woman 2: “Well, thanks for everything and good day.”
Woman 1: “Good day, excuse me.”
This telenovela is produced by Mexico’s largest media company (and largest in the Spanish-speaking world), Televisa. Televisa generated a lot of controversy during last year’s presidential election because of an alleged secret collaboration between the PRI and Televisa. The media company has been criticized for it’s low quality content and often ridiculous telenovelas (if you don’t speak Spanish, I’m sorry, you’re missing out), but I’m not sure I have seen this blatant use of telenovelas to convince the public of a political agenda before. It even gets didactic in the end when the woman asks “And what did you learn today?”
In a country where only two companies (Televisa and TV Azteca) own practically all TV content in Spanish, it is becoming increasingly important to make sure more people have access to the internet, where they would have access to a broader variety of media content, and as the Soraya meme shows, would even have the ability to ridicule such horrible TV .