Drugs, Thugs, and Divas: Telenovelas and Narco-Dramas in Latin America by O. Hugo Benavides
Soap opera speaks a universal language, presenting characters and plots that resonate far beyond the culture that creates them. Latin American soap operas—telenovelas—have found enthusiastic audiences throughout the Americas and Europe, as well as in Egypt, Russia, and China, while Mexican narco-dramas have become highly popular among Latinos in the United States. In this first comprehensive analysis of telenovelas and narco-dramas, Hugo Benavides assesses the dynamic role of melodrama in creating meaningful cultural images to explain why these genres have become so successful while more elite cultural productions are declining in popularity.
Benavides offers close readings of the Colombian telenovelas Betty la fea (along with its Mexican and U.S. reincarnations La fea más bella and Ugly Betty), Adrián está de visita, and Pasión de gavilanes; the Brazilian historical telenovela Xica; and a variety of Mexican narco-drama films. Situating these melodramas within concrete historical developments in Latin America, he shows how telenovelas and narco-dramas serve to unite peoples of various countries and provide a voice of rebellion against often-oppressive governmental systems. Indeed, Benavides concludes that as one of the most effective and lucrative industries in Latin America, telenovelas and narco-dramas play a key role in the ongoing reconfiguration of social identities and popular culture.
O. HUGO BENAVIDES is Associate Professor of Anthropology, Latin American and Latino Studies, and International Political Economy and Development at Fordham University in New York City, where he directs the M.A. program in Humanities and Sciences.
Table of Contents
1. Melodrama as Ambiguous Signifier: Latin American Telenovelas and Narco-Dramas
2. Seeing Xica and the Melodramatic Unveiling of Colonial Desire
3. Producing the Global West through Latin Tales of Seduction and Envy
4. Karen's Seduction: The Racial Politics of Appropriate Dinner Guests
5. A Mother's Wrath and the Complex Disjuncturing of Class
6. Being Narco: The Evolution of a Continental Sensibility
7. Saintly Figures and Icons: The Migration of a Continental Dream
8. La Reina del Sur: Gender, Racial, and National Contestations of Regional Identity
9. Sex, Drugs, and Cumbia: The Hybrid Nature of Culture
10. Conclusion: The Postcolonial Politics of Melodrama
Postscript: Ugly Betty
What People are Saying About This
"Drugs, Thugs, and Divas offers a truly original contribution to studies of Latin American popular culture. The book treats two genres whose popularity is growing exponentially within and outside of Latin America, and its extended, nuanced investigation of narco-dramas, in particular, makes it a truly cutting-edge study."