I’ve had this conversation a few times now with adults my age. Usually we start talking about the way we grew up, what it was like living in homes where we had only one television set, and where more often than not we’d spend our evenings watching telenovelas with our parents. We didn’t know it then, but in doing so we were building the foundation for what would become our shared cultural knowledge.
Our cultural intelligence, if you will.
Who would have thought then that personalities and television shows like Don Francisco, Cristina, Siempre en Domingo, Lente Loco, Marimar, and so many others would define our generation. Knowing these staples of Latino entertainment meant that we understood something that the mainstream United States culture did not. It meant that this underground culture of entertainment in español was all ours.
Ours to celebrate and enjoy. Ours to mourn in unison when a part of it was taken away or lost.
When Siempre en Domingo finished few of our non-Latino friends even knew anything about the show. When Sofia Vergara became Hollywood’s newest sweetheart few knew that she had been our sexy siren for decades before ever setting foot on the set of Modern Family. And so forth and so on. Ricky Martin, Thalia, Shakira, Enrique Iglesias, and a bunch of others were never crossover stars to us. They were always stars en español, they just now happened to be dabbling in English music as well.
And who could forget the almost unbelievable uproar about the tragic death of La Reina del Tex-Mex herself, Selena.
That was probably the quintessential moment in U.S.-Latino culture when non-Latinos finally began to get it. When her posthumous tribute edition of People magazine flew off the shelves everyone understood there was something there. A counterculture of sorts that had been growing and developing for years and years prior to her death, and that in that one swift moment in time brought about the significant potential of its participants.
Since then, arguably, the lines between U.S. Latino and U.S. entertainment have pretty much been blurred. On the one hand, we now have so many options for entertainment and ways to enjoy our entertainment that we are no longer restricted to watching only what our parents might be watching in the family room. On the other hand, Latinos are increasingly becoming a huge part of the mainstream U.S. entertainment industry and vice versa for non-Latinos in the U.S. Latino entertainment industry.
I mean El Gordo y La Flaca are just as likely to talk about Justin Bieber and Kim Kardashian as they are about Juan Gabriel and Itati Cantoral.
That’s a good thing, I think.
Only when you think about it, our underground culture isn’t just ours anymore. It’s a part of the larger mainstream culture, and that also means that our kids aren’t probably as savvy about the nuances of this underground culture as we once were. Ask them. Do they know who folks like Alejandro Fernandez, Lucero, Angelique Boyer, Laura Bozzo, or Gloria Trevi are? Probably not. But they can spot a Selena Gomez or Demi Lovato from a mile away.
That’s just the reality of changing times.
For us, however, it is important that Edgar has an appreciation for the programs and television shows we grew up watching. We want him to understand that Spanish-language entertainment has just as much to offer as English mainstream content. Undeniably, there are certain things that just don’t translate.
Right now we’re making it a family experience and we’re enjoying Spanish, Spanglish and even English programming with Latino characters together on Comcast’s FreePass Latino. It’s a two-week trial that allows us to enjoy all the culturally relevant movies, documentaries and shows we want. Starting on September 26, in fact, we’ll be able to binge watch shows “Texas Trocas,” “The Riveras,” “Instructions not Included,” and “El Señor de los Cielos” as often as we want until October 9. We’re even considering signing up for the yearlong Spanish language package after the trial period is over.
If you’ve ever watched telenovelas you know you can’t stop watching one once you’re invested. Believe me, we are way beyond invested now.
But I think it’s an investment in much more than just entertainment.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Comcast. The opinions and text are all mine.