I’m in Mexico!

The days out here fly by so fast!  I cannot believe it.  Since I’m having some trouble with the IRB at the moment (things are getting sorted out; interviews starting soon) I have been spending the majority of my time hanging out with youth in my population age group (11-18 years) and watching TV shows that they have mentioned they watch.  The kids are so much fun and most have told me that they watch all types of TV shows, from cartoons, to TeenNick shows, to evening telenovelas.  It surprised me that the younger ones, who still enjoy “Spongebob Squarepants” and “El Chavo”, also watch dramas like “Por Ella Soy Eva” and “La Mujer de Judas.”  The cartoons I have watched along with them mostly show innocent humor and humorous mixups.  The telenovelas are a little different.  They display an array of more mature topics, from revenge, to lust and infidelity, to anger and deceit, but there is always that common understanding that the good will prevail and the bad will get what they deserve.  I suppose that is the way in which telenovelas try to teach morals and values through the plot, by making the good come out on top in the end, even though it may be after much suffering and drama, and by having to bad (antagonist) end up losing something, be it their lives, their money, their reputations, or their loved ones.
One thing I heard from one of the boys I was talking to in El Encino surprised me quite a bit.  I asked him if he noticed a discrepancy between his personal value system (or the one he was taught in the home) and the value system promoted by the TV he watches.  He answered yes.  Then I asked him what the discrepancy was.  He told me that TV was teaching him that manners were important and that he had to work at being better.  This shocked me because I expected him to say that TV was teaching him negative values and that morality wasn’t important.  I had never considered that TV was teaching values that the viewers would find as more positive or a good influence.  This just means that I really am going to learn a new perspective.  I don’t mind that my expectation was wrong.  This is about learning about the people and learning from them and if they have a different perspective than I do about TV, then great!  I wonder if I’ll hear the same response from other kids, or if this boy is one of the few with this opinion.  I’m excited and ready to find out.

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3 Responses to I’m in Mexico!

  1. Woah, that’s interesting that he responded that way. But, now that I think about it, I guess I could say the same for me. I remember being punished if I did something wrong, but I was never actually told why I should act like a good person. I think that I learned those things mostly from other sources, like church and cartoons. I guess those shows are kind of predictable, and if you can predict what happens, that’s evidence that you understand the moral system that the show is working with. That’s my take. This is super interesting. I want to hear what else you find.

  2. Ben says:

    I’m glad that you’ll be able to really start your project soon. Way to overcome that nastily difficult IRB stuff. Just a thought about the response that this particular participant gave. First, I’m glad that you’re learning and open and willing to see findings that oppose your hypothesis- it shows that you’re a great researcher and thinker. I also wondered though, would it be possible as well that perhaps the negative values that are shown through these telenovelas are done so in such a manner that these kids don’t even realize that they are being taught these bad things. Or possibly, again, they are so used to them or unaware of them that they don’t bring them up when asked directly. Just an idea that I had when you were explaining to me this situation last week. I hope that all goes well with you and your project. Keep us updated!

  3. Jay says:

    It’s so interesting what this boy thought about being taught morals through television. I think the assumption held within my own culture is that children need to be protected from depictions of wrongdoing so they won’t be led to believe those things are okay. Have you been able to explore at all whether people in the ranchos have a similar assumption? Or do they feel that showing bad actions with the naturally bad consequences is a better way to teach morals?

    I’m so eager to hear more about your project and the things you’ve been learning since last month.

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