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Intermediality and Brazilian Telenovelas

by Ethan Tussey

by Ana M. Lopez for IN MEDIA RES

In 2012, the two top telenovelas aired by Brazilian media giant TVGlobo – Avenida Brasil and Cheias de Charme (Full of Charm)– deployed a complex universe of new social actors onto the mainstream: an emerging middle class (the “Clase C”) and starring roles for domestic workers, especially maids. Cheias de charme also positioned these new social actors in relationship to a larger cultural network, focusing on the use of the internet and new technologies as tools for success, both for the characters of the telenovels and for spectators. A Cinderella-like story,  the main plot line of Cheias de charme revolves around three maids -- Cida (Isabelle Drummond), Penha (Taís Araujo) and Rosário (Leandra Leal) --  who achieve meteoric success as the singing group “As Empreguetes” (the Maid-ettes). Deploying the most complex transmedial platform it has used to date, TVGlobo successfully narrativized transmediality -- among other strategies, a viral homemade music video is what catapults the three maids to instant stardom – and used it to engage spectators no longer simply as a TV audience but as savvy users of new technologies and digital media and participants in new dynamics in the social sphere.

Beyond the Cinderella plot -- and the charming and catchy music of "As Empreguettes" -- Cheias de Charme is fascinating because of how it positions the “Clase C” as protoganists legitimized by technology who become visible and legible insofar as they exist in a cyber-cultural world. The Cinderella plot reiterates the unlikely achievement of fame and glory (and love, of course), but that achievement is figured as the insertion of the characters in social dynamics that demand the savvy use and consumption of technology.  When this middle class goes to heaven....heaven is mediated by multiple screens and technological tools.

Cinema Journal and Brazilian TV

A slideshow of images from Cheias de Charme

from Cheias de Charme (2014)
Creator: Ana Lopez
Distributor: YouTube
Posted by Ethan Tussey
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