PRATIE PLACE

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Univision, bimbos, mothers, fathers

I learned Spanish watching telenovelas on Univision. I turned on the Spanish subtitles and stopped the tape when I needed to look up a word. These shows are comfortingly repetitive. Every episode, five nights a week, somebody hisses: "¡No puede ser!" (It Cannot Be!) There will be somebody in a hospital. There will be somebody ELSE in a wheelchair. There will be somebody weeping, "¡No me engañes!" (Don't Betray Me) and eventually (months and months later) the villains will expire horribly and the nice people will have a huge party or street celebration or wedding, cue music.

There will ALWAYS be a very sweet, dignified, humble, noble mother sobbing "Hijo! Hijo!" Well, of course -- consider the target demographic. The one here on the left is Rosario. She is the mother of Manuel Fuentes Guerra, the extremely handsome (guapo is the word) bastard son of the richest landowner San Cayetano has ever seen. Rosario here was a humble Indian farmworker on his hacienda and the dad had his way with her. Then she went into the world's oldest profession. Now, though, after being her son's servant for a while, she has been restored to her rightful place, wearing nice dresses and sobbing "Hijo! Hijo!" as a mother should.

Anyway, off limits for me until now have been Univision's strangest - some might say stupidest - shows, because they don’t have subtitles. They’re also full of bimbos with huge breast implants and ugly comedians rattling off jokes I wouldn’t understand even if they were explained to me in English. But my son and I happily watch Sabado Gigante even though the Master of Ceremonies, Don Francisco, mumbles like Demosthenes with a mouth full of pebbles.

My cable airs three of the five hours the show runs every Saturday night. Don Francisco has been doing this every single weekend for 42 years (Guinness Book of World Records). Five hours on his feet 52 weeks a year for 42 years! In the picture you see him wearing one of the funny hats his fans send him at a rate of a few hundred per year.

In the Yiddish world, guys who looked like him were tagged Berl (bear). D.F. could have been one of them. The supremely Latin Don Francisco is actually Mario Kreutzberger, son of German Jewish immigrants who fled Europe for Chile in the late 1930s. (When I told this to my Latina mentee, her mouth dropped into a perfect O of astonishment, and my people shot up in her estimation.) Mario defied his father, who wanted him to be a clothing designer, and became a television mega-Czar instead.

Good choice! Fathers, do not choose career paths for your children. Consider the frosty Irish immigrant Thomas Mellon (right), whose dad wanted him to take over the lousy family farm at “Poverty Point.” Poverty Point? For some reason this did not appeal to Thomas, who went on to college and law school and became one of the four wealthiest men in America and owned banks and universities and Presidents and stuff.

Don Francisco is no doubt doing very well too. He has his show, a book, a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, presidential candidates go on his show (sandwiched in between the bimbo segments) and his website offers many products for sale including folding chairs.

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3 Comments:

At 4:27 PM, Blogger Fabe said...

Very interesting your page, it is true, is very pleasing to find pages as these, kept women, written well, and singular.
I congratulate you, you meet a very complete woman. I Am from Chile, the natal land of Don Francisco. Luck.
Englishman forgives my evil.

 
At 6:37 PM, Blogger Kim said...

I find myself strangely drawn to the novellas, and I love the idea of watching with the subtitles on (it would really imporve my grasp of the language). I also enjoy some Sabado Gigante... it's like a child's gameshow for grown-ups. But have you seen the freaky show with the woman who is a "little person", but plays a child. That completely creeps me out.

 
At 10:25 PM, Blogger Jorge (koky) Zeballos said...

GRande don Francisco!!!.

Caí de casualidad en tu página pues estaba recolectando información sobre piratas judíos en Chile (que hubo algunos) y terminé "paseando" por tu blog,

Buena, saludos,

Jorge Isaac,
Ñuñoa, Chile

 

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