Recently I visited the League against Blindness, a hospital that specializes in vision problems. I was accompanying a friend who had her left eye operated on a while earlier.
While I waited for her in a room with padded armchairs and air conditioning, I was able to take a quick nap, since to get to that place early I had had to get up before dawn. Suddenly I was shaken out of my drowsiness. The comments of the other people around me woke me up.
The television sets in the hospital had a program on that caught the attention of everyone, even the doctors in the waiting room. The title of it was “The Proudly Latin Awards,” which aimed to promote the beauty of the American continent, as well as its music.
It consisted of a competition in which people from various Latin American countries were selected to give awards to famous Ibero-American artists. For example: a Mexican was chosen to give an award to Shakira, who was acting in Los Angeles; and a Peruvian was chosen to present a trophy to the group Camila while they were playing in Piedras Negras, Mexico.
The hosts of the show traveled to several spots across the continent looking for the award presenters. In those places they made little tours of where they live, visiting their homes (which were all luxurious and coincidentally decorated with posters of famous performers, especially the one they were going to meet). Then the hosts would lead the presenters to where the singers were.
All of this was adorned with a splashy frivolity that sank those present in the waiting room into a stupor that erased from their minds why they were even there. Something similar happened with the doctors; it suddenly became more important for them to know what a young woman felt when she had Enrique Iglesias in front of her than to answer the telephone, where perhaps some relative was asking about a patient who had been just operated on or helping someone who was searching for a specific doctor so they could attend to an urgent case.
All of this —the excited screams of the hosts and those selected in the competition, the beautiful houses shown, and the unique experiences of meeting “so-and-so” or “what’s his name”— acted like a narcotic: for one moment we forgot that we live on a hungry continent with military bases, that there is a wave of violence against women, and that there are thousands of people still searching for missing loved ones.
I have to recognize —thank goodness— that at least my country doesn’t produce TV programs like that: so silly, so banal… Though thinking about it more, the programs here put minds to sleep with the cheap politics they are sold.