State TV channel Tves launched a new soap opera this week, in order to get out of the last place of the ratings.
The premiere of Teresa en tres estaciones received a heavy push of publicity, thanks to communicational hegemony. The first episode was seen not only in Tves, but in VTV as well. They could put it in cadena nacional if Chavez said so.
I took my chances and watched it out of curiosity. I gave up after 15 minutes.
The saddest part of the whole enterprise is not that it is bad, but that is simply more of the same. With the exceptions of the setting, the program follows the same cliches, the same story formulas and the same bad acting Venezuelan audiences have gotten used to for decades.
But Teresa fails in other aspect: it feels like a half-hour commercial for the National Train Institute (IFE). One of the main characters works there, and the stories are set around the Caracas-Tuy Valley line. The main writer has denied that the project was meant to be propaganda, but it looks that way. Like Battleship was a 200-million US$ toy advertising.
And there’s where the disconnect between what the Chavernment wants to present in its “cultural battle” and the everyday life of today: a Venezuela where no major problems exist, expect the personal little dramas every person has. Where everyone is content.
The Caracas-Tuy train service has been facing problems for quite some time. Delays caused by mechanical failures are a common occurrence, including a tragic collision last year. But the breaking point was reached on the morning of October 18th: some passengers forced a train conductor to change its course. That, combined with a lack of information, sparked a riot in the train station of Cúa. Footage of the incident (above) does speak for itself.
Soap operas, like other works of fiction are not supposed to be always 100% accurate, but when reality is adapted well beyond the suspension of disbelief, in order to embrace an ideological or political narrative, then audiences could be alienated. Skipping to the end: if the State’s cultural policy is like its communicational policy, the final result will be a flop.