March 3rd, 2008

Soap Operas


photo credit: Super*Junk

I am curious why anybody watches soap operas.

The same question could no doubt be asked about most reality TV shows, romance novels, and other drama-induced forms of so-called entertainment. What draws people to spend their time this way?

While on my mission in Honduras, I encountered many fans of “telenovelas” (the Spanish equivalent of a soap opera). Observing the types of people who were regular watchers of these shows, I came to a conclusion: people who watch soap operas on a regular basis desire to live vicariously through the actors and infuse their life with more drama, passion, and intrigue.

Almost all of the telenovela fans I encountered were women. These women led fairly boring lives which constituted cooking, doing laundry, cleaning, and other menial tasks. Some had drama of their own to worry about, but even these would regularly watch their favorite telenovela (or two or three) during the day.

In our country, you likewise don’t see too many men watching soap operas. One might argue that this is because the men are usually at work during the day, but I’m not even sure that an unemployed couch potato would subject himself to watching a soap opera (though there are probably numerous exceptions to this assumption). Soap operas seem to target themselves to women, saturating the plot lines with romance and passion that naturally appeal to women.

But even so, I’m intrigued whenever I hear of anybody watching a soap opera, regardless of sex, age, or socioeconomic status. There are far better ways of filling one’s time; they are efficient, however, at reducing one’s intellectual capacity and moral bearings.

Much like watching Fox News.

10 Responses to “Soap Operas”

  1. salt h2o
    March 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm #

    In Chile, both the men and the women watched telenovelas- to interrupt them during a telenovela was the highest offense. This obsession had nothing to do with gender, it was purely cultural.

    I doubt you’re going to get many responses to this post from
    soap watchers, I’d think that soap watching and political blog reading would be mutually exclusive.

    Unless the purpose of this post was to do a not so subtle side kick to Fox News. In which case that montage the video link showed could have easily been done with any other broadcasting network as well.

    To compare FoxNews to Days of our Lives would be intriguing if you could draw some comparison between Stephano and Bill O’riely, However as this post stands it looks like you just spent a lot of time trying to figure out an original way to present an unoriginal argument.

  2. Connor
    March 3, 2008 at 3:29 pm #

    However as this post stands it looks like you just spent a lot of time trying to figure out an orignial way to present an unoriginal argument.

    If five minutes constitutes “a lot of time”, then you’re close. But I don’t consider my ramblings in this post original by any means… more just the curiosity of why people do the things they do.

    And, of course, the obligatory bashing of a sorry excuse for a news station.

  3. salt h2o
    March 3, 2008 at 3:41 pm #

    So is this post about soap operas or about fox news?

    I couldn’t tell if the soap opera analysis was to present the Fox punchline or if the fox punchline was an after thought.

    I think you should consider watching an episode of Days to draw parrallels between the two, sure your IQ would drop 10 points but it’d make for some good blogging.

    As for me- I watch CNN, Fox, MSN, listen to NPR an KSL. I figure I have to listen to all viewpoints to figure out the truth for myself.
    As a side note I did watch soap operas one summer when I was in the 3rd grade. My mom had no idea.

  4. Connor
    March 3, 2008 at 3:45 pm #

    So is this post about soap opera’s or about fox news?

    Yes.

  5. Scott
    March 3, 2008 at 4:39 pm #

    I consumed a lot of TV as a kid, but I simply don’t have time for it nowadays. But I haven’t really consumed much TV of any kind for years, except for general conference. We don’t have satellite or cable. Each time we go on vacation and stay at a place that has these amenities, I am quickly convinced that instead of a few channels of nothing useful, they simply have lots of channels of nothing useful. The only stuff I know about most TV personalities (including people on FoxNews and CNN) is stuff I have derived from other sources. If I ever sit down in front of the TV, I soon find myself getting up and wandering away to something more pressing. It just can’t hold my interest. I don’t understand what others see in it.

  6. Connor
    March 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm #

    Scott,

    People like you and I are an aberration, since as this site reports:

    According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches more than 4 hours of TV each day (or 28 hours/week, or 2 months of nonstop TV-watching per year). In a 65-year life, that person will have spent 9 years glued to the tube.

    That’s repulsive.

  7. DougT
    March 3, 2008 at 7:53 pm #

    I know that the reason many old women watch these shows is for social reasons. They fit in with the group when the subject of these shows comes up. It’s like some guys with football or basketball – equally mindless shows.

  8. David
    March 3, 2008 at 9:14 pm #

    I think Doug makes a good point about the social factor. I think that soap opera’s are also the television equivalent of romance novels (which also appeal more to women). I think it’s the female equivalent of porn as women respond more strongly to the emotional stimuli of the soap operas and romance novels just as men respond more strongly to the physical stimuli pornographic imagery. (I’m not sure I would go so far as to suggest that soap operas have the same destructive capacity of porn.)

    Even if one doesn’t partake of porn – as a man it’s easy to recognize the pull that it can exert. I’m sure women are the same, even if they don’t watch soap opera’s they probably would recognize the draw if you were to ask them about it.

  9. March 4, 2008 at 2:27 pm #

    It’s the power of narrative/storytelling that hooks people on a soap opera and keeps them involved. And, unlike a typical t.v. series drama, the story continues every day, not just once a week.

    My mom had a couple soap operas she used to watch back in the 1970s. Usually she was ironing or folding laundry, she never just sat and watched. I don’t watch soap operas, but I’ll listen to nearly-mindless radio, like NPR or Dr. Laura, while I’m mopping a floor. Something entertaining that doesn’t interfere helps me stick to a task till it’s done, something I wouldn’t bother with if I didn’t need to get the spaghetti sauce off the floor.

    When I was in my early 20s, some of the gals I worked with set their VCRs to tape the soaps, then they would discuss them the next day. So, there was a social function. It was, at least, an improvement on speculating and gossiping about real people.

  10. March 8, 2008 at 2:56 pm #

    Nibley used to make frequent comments about television fare, and how it depicts a world sharply in conflict with a Zion society. Are we prepared to participate in a society that most people, when putting them side by side, would look at Zion and respond with a judgmental “how boring”?

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