Things That Matter

Find Out Why One West African Country Adopted Mexican Telenovelas As One Of Their Own

Picture this: A muscular man and an attractive woman are in the middle of a passionate love scene in a horse stable on a pristine Mexican hacienda. They’re both kissing, sweating, and, as the scene progresses, wearing less and less clothing.

In a matter of moments, a jealous ex-lover rides up to the hacienda on a beautiful white horse, walks into the horse stable, and fires a gun, immediately killing one of the lovers.

Though this scene is completely fabricated, it’s a sequence of events that tends to be used repeatedly in Mexican telenovelas and could easily have been played by someone like Cuban-born actor, William Levy, or Mexican singer actress, Thalia.

CREDIT: Credit: Facebook

Telenovelas have grown to be a important part of Mexican culture since they first appeared as radio programs in the 1930s, which were later transformed into television series throughout the United States and Latin America. Each has its own story line but they tend to follow themes related to love, family, murder, and crime.

But the popularity of Mexican telenovelas, which some estimates show, attract more than 40 million viewers on any given night, have also spread to countries outside of Mexico and Latin America.

The West African country of Ghana is home to over 27 million residents and is considered to hold one of the largest Mexican telenovela viewerships outside of Latin America. Mexican telenovelas like “Esmeralda,” “Rosalinda,” and “La Ursupadora” have become so popular in Ghana that they have been consistently translated and dubbed, forcing television companies to create shows dedicated to offering commentary and analysis on Mexican telenovelas.

The world is becoming increasingly smaller and interconnected, today, through digital platforms like Facebook and other forms of social media, but Mexican telenovelas in were introduced to Ghana long before the internet frenzy.

Ghanaian cultural critic, Ameyaw Debrah, remembers the moment Mexican telenovela “Acapulco Bay” was first introduced to Ghana in 1997 by TV3, a Ghanaian television company.

CREDIT: Credit: Melanie Stetson Freeman/Getty Images

“TV3 first introduced ‘Acapulco Bay’ and it became a smash hit because aside from the love story there was a lot of suspense and crime,” explained Debrah, who has amassed an enormous social media following for his analysis on Ghanaian pop culture. “This made it interesting for both male and female audiences, and then, seeing the success of telenovelas, also introduced ‘Cuando Seas Mias.'”

Like “Acapulco Bay,” “Cuando Seas Mias” featured two prominent Mexican actors, Silvia Navarro and Sergio Basañez, who played the leading protagonists.

In a country where women have had a large role in the country’s informal and formal market growth in the past ten years, they often, according to Debrah, often leave work early or close their businesses to rush home and watch the shows.

“Telenovelas have been disruptive to the normal TV viewing culture of Ghanaians,” described Debrah. “It has been known to affect productivity, especially with working females and even housewives. So market women close early to catch their favorite show.”

Ghanaian women also viewed telenovelas as a way to learn about concepts of love and romance.

“In a country where women have had a large role in the country’s informal and formal market growth in the past ten years, they often, according to Debra, leave work early or close their businesses to rush home and watch the shows.”

“My entire life revolved around telenovelas,” explains Delali Quarshie. “They were such beautiful stories and were my first introduction to what ‘true love’ seems to be about. As a girl growing up in my society, I was swept away by prince charming and fighting against the love triangle.”

“Even if it doesn’t end with love, there’s always that note of a positive light ahead for them, and that’s something that I think makes a telenovela the beautiful genre that it is.”

It’s not the first time, however, that Mexican telenovelas have become extremely popular in a country outside of Latin America.

Both China and Russia had their own telenovela craze in the early 1990s and have since created their own adaptations based on their cultural customs and language.

Ghanaian television companies have yet to follow China and Russia’s model. But a new generation of filmmakers and creatives throughout the country are realizing that creating authentic Ghanaian-based films requires depicting the impact that Mexican telenovelas have had on one of Africa’s most diverse nations.

Popular musician and filmmaker, Blitz the Ambassador, born Samuel Bazawule, whose upcoming film, “The Burial of Kojo,” depicts the life experiences of two Ghanaian brothers, understands the impact of cross-cultural storytelling in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected.

CREDIT: Credit: Blitz The Ambassador

“The film is about two brothers who deal with tragic consequences,” the filmmaker described over the phone from his home in Accra, Ghana. “The brothers are miners and engaged in illegal mining with gold and diamonds, which is a trend that continues to grow with Chinese investors.”

The prominent musician and emerging filmmaker is part of a growing group of Ghanaian creatives who grew up with telenovelas as part of their cultural experience.

“Telenovela culture is huge here and we’re very attracted to the melodrama and its very African when it comes to the very dramatic nature of things, it’s pretty much up our alley,” he described.

CREDIT: Credit: Blitz The Ambassador

Because Bazawule wanted to portray an authentic Ghanaian experience, he and Mexican-American cinematographer, Michael Fernandez, felt like it was important to create a storyline for their film where they could reflect the influence of Mexican telenovelas in Ghana. 

But affording the licensing fees required to purchase the rights for an established telenovela was outside of their budget, forcing them to find creative alternatives like to creating and shooting their own telenovela, which they titled “Puebla Mi Amor.”

“When I was making this film we couldn’t afford the telenovela license,” he explained. “We had to find a way and we had to be clever. So in the telenovela that we create for the film, there’s similar circumstances and there’s a parallel to what’s happening in the film.”

Filming the “Puebla Mi Amor” was initially supposed to take place in Miami, but Bazawule — who self-funded most of the film — was forced to shoot in Ghana.

CREDIT: Credit: Blitz The Ambassador

“We were planning to shoot in Miami but we didn’t have enough money, so we had to recreate scenes that looked like Miami using Puerto Rican and Spanish actors.”

Finding ways to work around budget concerns was a common occurrence during the film’s production, but including a telenovela scene in the film’s production was a way to show Ghanaians, like anyone else, live in an interconnected world.

“Nobody is on an island and as much as we may not recognize, our ideas about love, relationships, and family are often borrowed and it’s huge.”

Still, he hopes that one day Ghanaian culture and media can have the same impact that Mexican telenovelas have had in his own country.

“Nobody is on an island and as much as we may not recognize, our ideas about love, relationships, and family are often borrowed and it’s huge.”

“What’s not happening is the reverse, as much as we know about the world, you rarely go to Latin America and people know about Fela Kuti and other African musicians.”

“The influence has not been an exchange.”

As the Ghanaian filmmaking community continues to grow and consistent collaborations between Bazawule and Fernandez continue, perhaps Bazawule’s wishes might come true.

CREDIT: Credit: Blitz The Ambassador

“Michael is Latino and understands the importance of black and brown media images. The work that we continue do has to be global and has to leave a footprint.”

At that rate, what’s to say that Latinos in the U.S. and Latin America won’t be glued to their television screens while watching Ghanaian telenovelas in twenty years?

READ: 11 Crucial Life Lessons I Learned, Not From My Parents, But From Telenovelas

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The Los Angeles Dodgers Are Playing In The World Series And People Are Excited

Entertainment

The Los Angeles Dodgers Are Playing In The World Series And People Are Excited

Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The World Series is still happening despite Covid because baseball just can’t be held down. The Dodgers are playing their first World Series game today and fans are so excited to finally get some more baseball in their lives.

The World Series is here and Los Dodgers are playing their first game.

Baseball is America’s pastime and few teams have a fanbase as energized as The Dodgers. Ask any Dodgers fans about how difficult it is to get to the stadium and their commitment to the team is clear. It is not anywhere accessible by public transportation so you really have to want it.

People are super energized to celebrate and support their team.

The Dodgers made it to the championship game against the Houston Astros in 2017. The Dodgers lost to the Astros that year but three years later the Astros had the title stripped because of a cheating scandal. Now, The Dodgers have a chance to make win a title and Dodgers fans are excited to see it happen.

Even the furry fans are getting excited about the games.

It’s a fact that if a team has furry fans then they have the best fanbase. Who doesn’t want to end up at a stadium or party with these cute fluffers walking around in their Dodgers’ gear? These four-legged fans are better than child fans because they are going to get everyone’s spirits up.

The team has a lot of big names behind them cheering them on.

Los Angeles is home to some of the top celebrities and athletes. It must be nice to know that some of the most influential people are out there pushing for you to make it all the way. Bonus points if they are other athletes who know just how exciting and hard it is to compete at the elite level.

Let’s go, Dodgers!

The Dodgers play the Tampa Bay Rays tonight at 5:11 PST. Be sure to tune in and cheer for your favorite baseball team as they try for the championship again.

READ: From Serving Tacos To Being Signed With The LA Dodgers, Here’s What We Know Of The LA Dodger’s Pitcher

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“Selena: The Series” Trailer Is Here And The ’80s Hairstyles Are Everything

Entertainment

“Selena: The Series” Trailer Is Here And The ’80s Hairstyles Are Everything

contodonetflix / Twitter

Update October 26, 2020

The trailer for Netflix’s “Selena: The Series” is here and it is everything fans have been hoping for. The Netflix Original series is shining a light on the Selena few of us have had a chance to explore. The story will be told of a young Selena as she is starting her music career.

The trailer for “Selena: The Series” is out and it looks magnificent.

The first trailer is here and it is showing us all of the ’80s Selena vibes and looks we love. We never got a real good look at the early years of Selena y Los Dinos so this show is giving us a chance to better know Selena. We all know Selena as the Grammy-winning artist who was tragically murdered by her fan club president, but we have not really known her at the beginning of her career.

Let’s just all take a moment and appreciate those curly-haired looks.

We have all seen the photos of Selena with the curly, ’80s-style looks. Her curly hair always seemed like some intangible moment in her history. For the first time in a long time, we get to know the Selena who worked to become the most famous female Latin artists of all time.

We are just over one month away before the release of the new show.

“Selena: The Series” premieres on Dec. 4 and all the Selena fans cannot wait. Be sure to catch in on Netflix so we all have something to talk about online while still in quarantine.

Original: One of the most popular and cathartic things to do in the time of Covid is to binge-watch shows on streaming platforms. Why drag something out when you can watch an entire season in a day? Well, Selena fans now have one more thing to binge after Netflix announced the release date for “Selena: The Series.”

The world will forever change after Dec. 4.

Netflix is finally releasing the highly anticipated show “Selena: The Series” and we are so stoked to finally see it. The show has been on the radar of Selena fans everywhere since it was announced in 2018. We have all patiently waited for two years to finally see this show.

This is not a drill. This is not a prank. This is a gift from the entertainment deities who want to make sure that we all have something to make these hard times better. All you need is access to a Netflix account, doesn’t matter whose, and the enduring love for Selena that most of us have.

People are marking their calendars for a big day in entertainment.

That’s right. Netflix is releasing “Selena: The Series” and Disney+ is releasing “Mulan” for Disney+ subscribers at no extra charge after trying to rent it for $30 through the app. Dec. 4 is gearing up to be one of the most exciting days for people who just don’t want to leave the house during the current Covid pandemic. What a time to be a live, huh?

Netflix knows exactly what they are doing by releasing this show.

This show is approved by the Quintanilla family so there is that. This show was announced at the same time that Telemundo announced that the Spanish-language network was releasing their own series “El Secreto De Selena.”

The Telemundo show was based on the book written by journalist María Celeste Arrarás. The family has vehemently denied the accusations made in the book multiple times and Telemundo’s decision to make the series, which aired in 2018, angered viewers.

We have been promised a story about Selena that we have not seen in the past.

The Netflix series will not be rehashing what we have already seen. We know the story of Selena’s musical rise and tragic death thanks to “Selena” with J.Lo.

“Selena: The Series” is going to be showing us the life of a young Selena before the fame and musical career. It is truly amazing that after all of these years, there are still new stories to be told about Selena and her important place in American Latino history.

“Before she became the Queen of Tejano Music, Selena Quintanilla was a young girl from Texas with big dreams and an even bigger voice,” reads the description of the show. “The two-part coming-of-age drama ‘Selena: The Series’ explores the once-in-a-generation performer’s journey as a young artist, from singing small gigs in Corpus Christi with her family to becoming one of the most successful Latin artists of all time — and the years of grit and sacrifice the Quintanilla family navigated together before Selena’s meteoric rise to fame.”

So, mark your calendars and gather your loved ones.

This day should be a holiday as we all know that Selena is one of the greatest unifiers in the Latino community. We still sing her songs to this day and her legacy is being passed down to younger Latinos. Selena gave us representations before we knew we wanted and needed it.

It’s like we can already hear those old-school Selena y Los Dinos songs playing in our heads. Dec. 4 can’t get here fast enough and that’s a fact.

READ: Chris Perez Says He’s In the Dark When It Comes To Netflix’s ‘Selena: The Series’

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