Efforts around Critical TV in Cuba

Yenisel Rodriguez 

The TV programs Huron Azul and Clip Punto cu are part of a small number of cultural programs that are struggling to reintroduce a socio-cultural critique into discourse on Cuban television, which is generally characterized by formidable efforts aimed at depoliticization and sensationalism.

Other efforts of this type have been attempted within Cuban state-run television, though only in a minority of instances.  What’s new in this case is that it is precisely these cultural promotion programs that are taking the initiative to stimulate discussion about the role and function of cultural programming in current Cuban society.

More interesting still is that these reflections seek to enquire — at all costs and with masterful subtlety — into the intermediary role that the Cuban government has been able to play, in one or another way, in the paths that have connected art to the people.

The political task that these television shows aim to achieve is difficult; what takes place is an ongoing struggle to maintain the degree of criticalness achieved in previous broadcasts, though they don’t always achieve that end.

For example, a few weeks ago Clip Punto cu again dedicated one of its programs to explicitly vindicate the reciprocal influence that existed and exists between the musical contributions of the Beatles and Cuban popular music.

Photo: Paola Nunez Solorio

Though this is a dead horse that has been beaten to the point of fatigue on Cuban television, Clip Punto cu added to the issue by making visible the intermediary role played by the Cuban government to completely block this socio-cultural exchange.

The program succeeded at exorcizing many hidden prejudices and the intentional ignorance that still today weakens the relationship between the cultural and sexual revolution of the ‘60s in the United States and Cuban youth’s revolutionary effervescence in a similar revolutionary situation.

I could also mention one of the many issues that Huron Azul has raised in debate.  The most interesting for me, given the excessive level of ignorance regarding it, was when the program approached the importance of art direction in the production of videos and how the undervaluing of this specialty compromises the final quality of Cuban audiovisual work.

Consequently, I want to publically congratulate the staff of both programs for the much-needed contributions they’re making to the struggle to reconstruct popular political culture in Cuba.