Broadcasting Modernity: Cuban Commercial Television, 1950-1960

Duke University Press
Free sample

The birth and development of commercial television in Cuba in the 1950s occurred alongside political and social turmoil. In this period of dramatic swings encompassing democracy, a coup, a dictatorship, and a revolution, television functioned as a beacon and promoter of Cuba’s identity as a modern nation. In Broadcasting Modernity, television historian Yeidy M. Rivero shows how television owners, regulatory entities, critics, and the state produced Cuban modernity for television. The Cuban television industry enabled different institutions to convey the nation's progress, democracy, economic abundance, high culture, education, morality, and decency. After nationalizing Cuban television, the state used it to advance Fidel Castro's project of creating a modern socialist country. As Cuba changed, television changed with it. Rivero not only demonstrates television's importance to Cuban cultural identity formation, she explains how the medium functions in society during times of radical political and social transformation.
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About the author

Yeidy M. Rivero is Associate Professor of Screen Arts and Cultures at the University of Michigan. She is the author of Tuning Out Blackness: Race and Nation in the History of Puerto Rican Television, also published by Duke University Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Duke University Press
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Published on
Apr 19, 2015
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Pages
264
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ISBN
9780822375685
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Caribbean & West Indies / Cuba
Performing Arts / Television / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Tuning Out Blackness fills a glaring omission in U.S. and Latin American television studies by looking at the history of Puerto Rican television. In exploring the political and cultural dynamics that have shaped racial representations in Puerto Rico’s commercial media from the late 1940s to the 1990s, Yeidy M. Rivero advances critical discussions about race, ethnicity, and the media. She shows that televisual representations of race have belied the racial egalitarianism that allegedly pervades Puerto Rico’s national culture. White performers in blackface have often portrayed “blackness” in local television productions, while black actors have been largely excluded.

Drawing on interviews, participant observation, archival research, and textual analysis, Rivero considers representations of race in Puerto Rico, taking into account how they are intertwined with the island’s status as a U.S. commonwealth, its national culture, its relationship with Cuba before the Cuban Revolution in 1959, and the massive influx of Cuban migrants after 1960. She focuses on locally produced radio and television shows, particular television events, and characters that became popular media icons—from the performer Ramón Rivero’s use of blackface and “black” voice in the 1940s and 1950s, to the battle between black actors and television industry officials over racism in the 1970s, to the creation, in the 1990s, of the first Puerto Rican situation comedy featuring a black family. As the twentieth century drew to a close, multinational corporations had purchased all Puerto Rican stations and threatened to wipe out locally produced programs. Tuning Out Blackness brings to the forefront the marginalization of nonwhite citizens in Puerto Rico’s media culture and raises important questions about the significance of local sites of television production.

The cultural politics creating and consuming Latina/o mass media.

Just ten years ago, discussions of
Latina/o media could be safely reduced to a handful of TV channels, dominated
by Univision and Telemundo. Today, dramatic changes in the global political
economy have resulted in an unprecedented rise in major new media ventures for
Latinos as everyone seems to want a piece of the Latina/o media market. While
current scholarship on Latina/o media have mostly revolved around important
issues of representation and stereotypes, this approach does not provide the
entire story.


In Contemporary Latina/o Media,
Arlene Dávila and Yeidy M. Rivero bring together an impressive range of leading
scholars to move beyond analyses of media representations, going behind the
scenes to explore issues of production, circulation, consumption, and political
economy that affect Latina/o mass media. Working across the disciplines of
Latina/o media, cultural studies, and communication, the contributors examine
how Latinos are being affected both by the continued Latin Americanization of
genres, products, and audiences, as well as by the whitewashing of “mainstream”
Hollywood media where Latinos have been consistently bypassed. While focusing
on Spanish-language television and radio, the essays also touch on the state of
Latinos in prime-time television and in digital and alternative media. Using a
transnational approach, the volume as a whole explores the ownership,
importation, and circulation of talent and content from Latin America, placing
the dynamics of the global political economy and cultural politics in the
foreground of contemporary analysis of Latina/o media.

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