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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 environment.

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 environment.

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.



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