When criticized for glamorizing violence and exploiting sex for profit, the media often claim that they are just "giving people what they want", that nobody forces audiences to watch their programming. But a survey of cable, satellite, and broadcast programming reveals that there is little meaningful choice, and few viewers are ever asked what they want. "Hispanorama TV" will offer an alternative.

It is one thing to tell people how they ought to behave, and why. It is another to show them. Priests and community leaders offer advice about charity, good citizenship, and the power of love. Teachers are pained to see their students seduced by a culture that encourages us to measure people by what they own, how they look, and how successful they are - often success gained at any price. Parents often find themselves warning their children about the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and drugs, the importance of education, tolerance.

But experienced parents know that children have an alarming habit of imitating what parents do, not what they say. And adults are not too different. People in general do not like sermons and lectures, especially when they sit down to watch television. Few of us can be argued into being generous, or kind, or good. We learn to treat others as we want to be treated through experience. And that experience includes the vicarious experience of watching people on the screen, people confronted by injustice, prejudice, and discrimination, facing economic hardship, or being tempted to lie, cheat, steal. Seeing an angry person overcome his anger and walk away from a potentially violent confrontation is memorable in a way that slogans about peace are not.

The stories of "Hispanorama TV"will avoid the formulas and clichés of much of contemporary Spanish-language TV drama. In these stories, we will see real characters who face the challenges of real life. They will not be perfect people. Like all of us, they will have flaws. be a mix of good and bad, weakness and strengths. We will see them learn what it is to be a real man or woman through mistakes and struggles, who find out that the real heroes in life are very different from movie and TV heroes.

The mini-dramas which are serving as the seeds of "Hispanorama TV" have been among the most successful public service announcements ever aired on Spanish-language television. Programmers from all over the country have told us how much they liked them, and that people have even called their stations to comment on the characters, and even to ask "when the whole program will be on."
Some scenes are gentle, as when a man showing his son family pictures is moved to call his surprised father and tell him something he has not told him in many years - how much he loves him. Or when a loving grandmother reveals that her prayers are for her grandson, for him to leave the gang he is in and become the real man he is capable of being. Several feature moving interactions between children and parents, as when a girl asks her mother if it is alright to make a birthday cake for a senior who lives next door, a little girl who has learned a classmate has AIDS asks her mother what AIDS is, and whether it would be alright to invite the girl to her birthday party.
Some of the vignettes deal with moments of realization, as when two Hispanic girls in a high school, in the midst of mocking a new student, suddenly remember their own humiliations upon arriving at the school, and decide instead to make friends with her. Or when an impatient father, angry at his son for wasting his time playing a guitar, learns from a sympathetic neighbor that the boy has won a prize for his music.

Some of the scenes deal with very painful subjects. A brother paying a visit to his sister who finds out that her husband has been beating her. A woman who notices bruises on a troubled friends daughter and learns that she has been hitting her. A concerned daughter who tells her father that his drinking embarrasses and worries not only her, but the whole family. A father overcomes his anger at his daughter who has become pregnant, and welcomes her back into the family.

All of the scenes seem real because of their directness and honesty, and have the ring of truth because they deal with humorous or painful subjects in a way that is true to life. The scenes are effective because the messages are not forced, but grow naturally out of the situations. They are memorable because of the strong emotions involved.

For more information, contact TONY BARAJAS, Media Consultant, (703) 780-0057, TonyBarjas@aol.com, or RAUL MEDRANO, Media Consultant, (240) 388-0344, medrano4m@yahoo.com

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