Telenovelas’ Heroes

[Português]

Brazil has no famous superheroes. It´s as simple as that. No Batman or Superman. The children idolize the American heroes and watch Japanese cartoons on TV. But people grow up anyway, and maybe their childhood heroes don´t seem to be that fun anymore.

Latin America has a big phenomenon that you´ve probably already heard about: the ‘telenovelas’, or soap operas (just a quick linguistic note: I´ve heard that in English the name soap opera came from the fact that in the sixties they were sponsored by soap producers. The word ‘novel’ is used for books). Recently, the superheroes of the “grown women” are basically the main male characters of different telenovelas. They don´t fly or have a superpower that can save the world, but they get into their hearts in a different manner, and this is what I am going to talk about here.

The most famous telenovelas usually come from Mexico or Brazil. They have some things in common, like for example the “tema de abertura” (opening theme). The opening usually shows some scenes that may define what the telenovela is all about with a cheesy (but catchy) song. Here are some of my personal favorites:

* María la del Barrio (Mary of the neighborhood), from Mexico
* Laços de Família (Family ties), from Brazil
* O Rei do Gado (The king of cattle), from Brazil

In Mexico the telenovelas are usually a “working class melodrama”, in most of the cases about a poor girl who falls in love with a rich man or something similar. This rich man usually becomes the so called ‘hero’, because he not only falls in love back, but also goes against his family`s will to be with her. During the story he is probably seduced by a mean woman and blah blah blah, but in the end everything is fine and the two main characters live happily ever after. He is seen as the good guy and all the female spectators fall in love with him and hope to find someone like him in real life.

The Brazilian telenovelas usually have a more complex plot that include some more controversial subjects, like violence, drugs, poverty or abortion. Nonetheless, they also have their necessary dose of romance and luxury. The ‘superhero’ in the Brazilian telenovelas may vary – he can either be the poor man that does all he can to be with the girl he loves, the guy that is good to the others or just the really handsome one. In any case, many Brazilian women – single, married, young, old, poor or rich – love him and watch the soap opera just because of him.

The men in the telenovelas are not really superheroes – but they are our heroes. They are the ones who get into the girls hearts and make sure that every story has a happy ending. But after all, isn’t this what a hero is for anyway?

Take a look at a part of a Brazilian telenovela: The guy at the scene that starts at 4:15 is the hero of this one.

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