Messages commenting about the topic of women’s rights are
a strong presence in the forum especially when this issue is portrayed
in the telenovela. The posters often refer the struggles of the
character to their own reality, and then to the struggles of the
women in the world in general. Women who are denouncing the problem
and speaking out against women’s oppression post the majority
of the messages. The forum has a more visible male participation
in the beginning of the novela, but it decreases with time and the
later messages are mainly posted by women.
By exchanging their views, values, and ideas in a dialogical communicative
manner, the discussion of the telenovela’s scenes also “raised
consciousness” about problems of stereotyping, confronting
preconceived notions of relationships, in the Muslim world, and
the power structure between men and women regardless of culture
or religion. In doing so, the participants create a social learning
The different opinions voiced and exchanged in the forum expressing
critical involvement verify that the message writers have thought
about the educational content of the novela, in the case of this
study the portrayal of the Muslim culture, and the repercussion
of this portrayal not only among the Muslim community but also the
non-Muslim. By thinking about the characters or the novela they
are also demonstrating cognitive parasocial interaction. The dialogue
that is formed with the expression of different values, experiences,
and backgrounds, enriches the discussion and helps to form a learning
It is important to note that some of the Muslim participants in
the forum voice a similar concern to the Moroccan ambassador to
Brazil, that the telenovela does not portray their country in a
realistic light. The messages convey that the novela incorporates
different customs from the Arab world and sometimes confuses the
viewers as to whether it is a custom or a religious teaching. Even
though Gloria Perez had a consultant to help to elaborate the novela
in order to avoid misrepresentation, careful attention needs to
be drawn upon a real characterization of cultures. The forum participants
can clarify their doubts and learn to differentiate what is culture
and what is religion, while the average viewer might not have the
opportunity to further clarify their doubts, taking the portrayal
of the novela as accurate.
These bring us to the initial inquiry about the utilization of the
Brazilian telenovelas as a medium to disseminate knowledge about
different cultures and customs. According to Yoder, Horner, and
Chirva (1996) one of the challenges of evaluating the effectiveness
of an entertainment-education initiative is the difficulty in attributing
the behavior change to the specific message. In the reception studies
scholarship the same problem appears. People receive many different
influences and it is therefore quite complicated to link the acquisition
of knowledge or behavior change to the telenovela in particular.
However, the qualitative analysis of the messages allows the verification
of the posters’ opinion about their own learning of the Muslim
cultural issues portrayed by the telenovela. It is also important
to say that this knowledge is further enhanced by the interactions
in the web site. Therefore, in the posters own words:
…the problem i have understanding about Arab culture (I've
learned not to apply all of Islam to this) is this crap about dishonoring
the family, aka honor killings.
We have learned more about all the positive aspects of these
cultures than we possibly could have otherwise.
In fact, no question is stupid. Questions show that people
want to learn. Questions show that people want to clear up their
own confusion or misconceptions. Questions show that people are
NOT making assumptions or swallowing everything they hear or see.
your one of the people who is really openhearted about islam
and i really appreciate that. it feels good to know there are people
like you who want to learn about it and see everything neutrally.
u can see that there are women oppressed in every culture and every
person has their faults. unfortunately not everyone is like you.
there are alot of ignorant people who automatically assume that
its the teachings of islam that allows those terrible people to
commit their crimes.
I really enjoy knowing, learning and appreciating other cultures.I
started to listen to Arabic Music back in early 90's, because of
a friend. Thanks to this novela and forum and I've been able to
re-introduce myself to this beautiful and enchanting music. Now
my collection includes......Amr Diab, Tarkan, Natasha Attlas, Tony
Mouzayek........................ and I'm still listening..................
But, then again, there's the factor of marrying into a particular
culture. As we've learned on this forum, it's very often the various
cultures that impose restrictions on women, not Islam itself.
Therefore one might say that the use of the telenovela as a medium
to disseminate knowledge about other cultures might be one avenue
to explore in the effort to improve cultural knowledge.
While these research results are limited to the population studied,
it can nevertheless provide important insights about the international
audience of the telenovela’s fans. It also contributes to
the Latin American telenovela’s scholarship and proposes a
theoretical model for future research.
Last year, while watching an interview in Brazil with a little girl
that was training to be a gymnast, the reporter asks asked the girl
to show some dance steps, and the girl promptly starts started to
belly dance. It is certainly not possible to confidently say that
the girl learned to belly dance watching “ O Clone”,
however, this telenovela might have introduced this dance to many
of its viewers. The lasting effects of this telenovela are yet to
be studied and the possibilities of research are infinite.