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The Problems With Latino Music Award Shows And 3 Solutions To Fix Them

08.5.2014 | By |

Latinos guess what? Next year, Telemundo will produce a Spanish-language version of the American Music Awards! According to The Hollywood Reporter, Telemundo is creating new programing in order to help close a ratings gap with Univision. The Spanish-language broadcaster has acquired licensing rights from Dick Clark Productions for the live special event, which will feature top music stars from Latin America, the Caribbean and other Spanish-speaking regions.

This is obviously great news for our community because, well let’s face it, Latinos make a huge part of the great American web of diverse ethnicities and races.

Slowly but surely, we are making sure our presence is felt in the U.S. entertainment world and this upcoming project is just one more addition that will certify that our culture, and of course our music is celebrated and recognized. It also speaks strongly to the consumer power that Latino audiences have.

And although this is amazing, I can’t help but to be fearful because to tell you the truth…boy have I’ve been BURNT!

Let’s look at shows like “Mira Quien Baila,” “Bailando Por un Sueño,” “Despierta America” and “Un Nuevo Dia.” These ALL fall under the categories of: cheap, cheesy and overly sexualized. I’m an avid viewer of “Dancing With The Stars,” “Good Morning America” and “The Today Show,” and when comparing these shows to their Spanish-language counterparts, I can’t help but to feel ashamed, they leave me thinking: “Why can’t Latinos have nice things? Why are we always the ugly step sister of American TV.”

At the same time, I haven’t lost faith and all thanks to two very successful and well-done adaptations – “La Voz Kids” and “Metastasis.” 

What a joy it is for me to sit down with my mother and enjoy a show on the network and language of her choice. These are shows that have reached the perfect balance when it comes to audiences. They have managed to reach out to my mother – a woman who spent most of life in Colombia, speaks Spanish predominantly and sticks to watching Telemundo and Univision 90% of the time. At the same time, they have also grabbed my attention – a young bicultural and bilingual millennial raised in the U.S who watches English-language television primarily. In short, these two shows have successfully mended the gap between generations and cultural differences.

The fact is that this is not only about whether a Spanish version of the AMAs will succeed or fail, there’s a bigger picture question in place here: what can Spanish-language networks do to improve their overall Spanish-language content that is originally based on an English-language show?

There are three things that I have learned from watching both the crappy and excellent adaptations that I think can greatly improve future shows:

3. Production Value

One thing “La Voz Kids” has taught us is that a nice, MODERN set design is possible! There is no need for “Bailando Por un Sueño” to look like they had to dig up the set of 60s show. Bad set designs make Spanish-language shows look tacky so spending a little more money – and of course choosing a designer with good taste – can go a long way!

2. Mix of stars

Adaptations like “Metastasis” and “Amas De Casa Desesperadas” already come from well-known original series and have followed the story very close, which allows them the freedom to use stars solely known in a Spanish-language context. When it comes to shows like “Mira Quien Baila,” “Bailando Por un Sueño,” and of course the upcoming AMAs, it is a must for them to have a good balance of crossover stars (Juanes, Romeo Santos, Shakira, etc.) and those only known in a Latino context. This, I feel, is one of the keys to attracting to Latino millennials that have zero interest in Spanish-language television simply because they can’t relate.

1. Heighten The Culture

One of the things I have complained about for years, is the lack of professionalism in many Spanish-language shows and how much they cheapen Latino culture. Every morning I much rather wake up and watch “The Today Show” and “ Good Morning America” even if I don’t see myself reflected on screen simply because at least I’m not left feeling offended. “Despierta America” and “Un Nuevo Dia” can be described in two words: boobs and gossip. Spanish-language talks shows and live events need to offer less random, naked women dancing in the background and a better mix of gossip and lifestyle topics.

What do you think about my suggestions? Share your thoughts in the comments below. 

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