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Two weddings and a protest

8 July 2012

I really don’t watch enough television to say why the personal lives of Eugenio Derbez and Alessandra Rosaldo are something all that newsworthy.  Derbez (whose real name is Eugenio Gonzalez Derbez:   his mother is the well-know film star of the 1940s and 50s, Sylvia Derbez) produces some Televisa comedies, and has acted in a couple of telenovelas and sit-coms, and I guess promoting his long courtship of Ms. Rosaldo has been a staple of TV fan magazines for the last couple of years, and we are talking about people who are selling themselves as a product.

But c’mon… despite the elegance surrounding the event (the Church service being held in Mexico City’s Regina Coela, a gem of Churrigueresque ecclesiastical architecture, and  the music was nice… and I guess there is some vicarious thrill in watching TV stars and their moms and dads in formal-wear… the wedding I attended yesterday — at a beach palapa, where a white beach shirt with no lettering or picture on it is what passed for overly formal-ware and the  hoc service (the judge had a last minute meeting out of town, and the legal marriage had been performed earlier in the day) did not feature a symphony orchestra and wired for sound priest, but was  shouted over the banda group entertaining in the next palapa, had a little more class.  Or at least I can relate to a wedding where at least I know the bride and groom, in person.

Which meant watching the two actors’ wedding broadcast live on Televisa was  all the weirder.  Not that I set out to watch it, but I went out to eat this evening, and it was playing at the local taquetería, and walking home, I noticed about half the neighborhood was watching the broadcast (nothing tacky about my neighborhood… but most of us don’t have air conditioning, and are too anti-anti-social NOT to be out in the street … so when it’s hot, people t set the TV out in front of the house, or in the front window, and sit outside to watch, and I get to watch them watch).

One gets the sense that the live telecast was either a sneaky way for Televisa to broadcast religious programming on prime-time television — something of a gray area in Mexican law. Supposedly no religious programming is broadcast, but besides a few evangelical “infomercials,” there are telenovelas with scripts and stories drenched in Catholic piety.  Televisa regularly pushes Church-sponsored events, or sponsors  — and gives endless coverage to — religious spectacles like the recent tour of an effigy of the late Pope John-Paul II .  Given the know proclivities of the Azcárraga family for support for the more conservative strains within the Roman Catholic Church, it’s not an unfair assumption to imagine that Televisa simply saw a chance to push the envelope on religious programming and ran with it.

On the other hand, given that Televisa is under increasing scrutiny for NOT broadcasting any real news… like the mounting protests against the network”s role in the recent presidential election, and the street protests against both the network and what is seen as the imposition of the candidate they backed and who received the most votes in what is seen as a tainted election, there is also the sense that the network is desperate to avoid anything even slightly controversial.  It’s not much discussed outside Mexico (or even in Mexico), but one reason Televisa would much prefer a PRI presidency is that both PAN and the Citizens’ Movement coalition (PRD-PT-MC) were pushing to break Televisa’s stranglehold on television broadcasting.  With a PRI majority in congress, bills to create a third network and open up channels for local and alternative broadcasters might be pushed back, or overridden.

Whether that was uppermost in the protesters minds, they did manage to shut down the wedding broadcast, at least temporarily.  Televisa had “technical difficulties” during the live program when Derbez and Rosaldo, leaving the civil wedding for the religious ceremony (only civil marriage is binding and legal in Mexico) they were met with protesters demanding “schools, not telenovelas!” and, as usual, denouncing the presumed electoral fraud and Enrique Peña Nieto.

Those “temporary technical problems” left out what happened next.   Debez briefly addressed the protesters, saying, “I’m with you. I didn’t vote for Peña Nieto either!” The only class act in a tacky production.

A wedding where everyone comments on their surprise at seeing the bride in a dress (and a lovely dress it was) … and there was no undercurrent of making a political statement or putting on a show for the masses … now that’s class!

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