Not that anyone should take television gossip shows very seriously most of the time, but when it comes to Spanish-language networks like Univision and Telemundo they mean big business and draw a huge number of viewers each day.
This week, these shows have been sinking their fangs into comments made by Mexican actor Eduardo Verástegüi last week in which he opposed Obama's decision to back marriage equality and also announced that he was celebrating ten years of being celibate. In other words: Catnip for these type of shows.
This wouldn't be on my radar except for the fact that Mr. Verástegüi, if you recall, emerged as the Spanish-language face of Proposition 8 in California which amended the California constitution to ban marriage equality. There is much more to this which I might address in a separate post.
In any case today I tuned in to "El Gordo y La Flaca" on Univision and I wasn't too surprised when host Raúl De Molina opened the show by alluding to Verastegüi's "friendship" to openly gay music pop star Ricky Martin in setting up the story about the Mexican actor's celibacy.
The veiled homophobic yuck-yucks continued when a cast member was brought out to read a top three reasons Verastegüi had chosen celibacy. Top reason: "Because it hurt a lot".
But I still would not be writing about this if De Molina had not pulled the following stunt:
Speaking about Obama's support for marriage equality, De Molina mentioned Univision's huge viewership numbers and said that viewers overwhelmingly supported Verastegüi's views against marriage equality. Something that didn't surprise him, he said, since Latinos were pretty conservative.
"Who's right? The President of the United States,
Barack Obama, declared himself in favor of gay marriage. Eduardo
Verástegüi is against gay marriage and Ricky Martin is in favor - who do you think is right?"
De Molina presented it as if polling had closed.
I logged in at 4:14 PM - while the show was still on the air - and found out that - GULP! - marriage equality was losing by a margin of 67% to 33%.
Oh, I also found out that only 30 online visitors had bothered to vote. So much for a true representation of that huge Univision viewership.
This might seem silly but think about this: These shows are watched by millions of people who don't necessarily tune in for the social commentary or to get educated. But when they get "facts" such as the ones De Molina is trying to sell it does have influence. Particularly among those who might be sitting on the fence.