HAVANA TIMES – A few days ago, I was reading Havana Times when I came across an article on the home page that mentioned an episode of TV comedy show “Vivir del cuento” (Living by one’s wits).
Even though I normally keep well away from Cuban TV, I had heard some good comments about that episode in particular, starring the popular Panfilo.
The idea that a TV show could contain strong criticism about Cuba’s political system really excited me, so I clicked on the link and downloaded the video from YouTube so I could watch it more comfortably at home.
However, it was the same old story. Apart from Panfilo’s fleeting moments of wit, I though the rest of the of the show was just a sloppy representation of Cuban reality.
Having a show like this on Cuban TV with all of the censorship on national culture, especially when TV is hyper-controlled, is apparently an achievement.
Apparently, it’s a sign of change now and that things will change in the future. Maybe the subliminal message that we will have freedom of speech, prosperity, association or democracy one day? In any case, it’s the same old promise of what they can “give us”, not what we can win over for ourselves.
Apparently, Cubans are no longer what we were, our fear (which was a trauma we chose and not imposed by the Government) has dissipated and we are protesting like model citizens. That is to say, it’s a new way to show that we are revolutionaries.
I would maybe give the show credit if it were more current, with better performances and better production on the whole. Stereotypes featured are so poorly-conceived that only Panfilo’s character is believable, plus the plot is missing a dynamic pace which is unforgiveable during these times of audiovisual vertigo.
It just contributes the same thing that the news, Mesa Redonda and other news programs do, in my opinion. It tells you about a masked Cuba, hiding under the guise of lies and some twisted truths.
Its characters are obedient citizens, some are politically correct while others gently protest within the makeshift set up of the fake comedy that doesn’t represent us.
However, the most important thing is that opinions about the State which are expressed via these stereotypes, aren’t constructed in a truly free space.
Any criticism of the system loses its worth when the system itself is making it, not taking on responsibility but rather drip-feeding this questioning under the guise of a democratic opening.