Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru was the keynote speaker at the Global Feminist Media Studies Conference at the end of March organized by the Institute of Communications Research at the University of Illinois-Urbana.
The title of her presentation was: “She’s too harsh and opinionated:” The transgression of femininity in Venezuelan telenovelas.
For over a decade, Venezuelan telenovelas have been her preferred locus to study the links between media, culture and society. This paper focused on her investigation of writer Leonardo Padrón, whose television work breaks with the traditional telenovela rosa mold, without disregarding the genre’s enduring codes. Furthermore, in a country still dominated by the twin ideologies of machismo and marianismo, gender issues are one of the staples of Padrón’s telenovelas. In particular, he often includes female characters that represent a transgression of Venezuela’s limiting and limited definition of femininity. The paper examines the production, representation and reception of these characters. In addition to teasing out the nuances of their encoding and decoding, and the perennial tensions between the commercial requirements of the genre and its potential to deliver gender-related messages, and analyzes whether Venezuelans’ reception of such characters has evolved through the years.