Social Technologies

An occassional blog on social media and information technologies for human interaction and communication, and other ideas by @bacigalupe

Los 80: Fiction, Reality, Memory and Trauma in Chile.

Los 80: Fiction, Reality, Memory and Trauma in Chile.

Gonzalo Bacigalupe published in Spanish at Movimiento Generacion 80 Blog

Memory is fragile and the space of a single life is brief, passing so quickly that we never get a chance to see the relationship between events; we cannot gauge the consequences of our acts, and we believe in the fiction of past, present, and future, but it may also be true that everything happens simultaneously. … That’s why my Grandmother Clara wrote in her notebooks, in order to see things in their true dimension and to defy her own poor memory. (Isabel Allende in the House of the Spirits)

The fourth season of the Chilean television series Los 80 (dirigida por Boris Quercia) ended this week with record ratings in viewership. The reaction to the series by television viewers took over social media outlets like Twitter and Facebook. Despite the dissatisfaction of many with the fictional plot based on historical facts, the memories that the series evoked and its success debunked the notion that Chileans wish to be amnesic about their past. For some of us, the Chilean diaspora abroad, watching the series through an Internet videostream, watching the series is even a more intense experience that is not softened with the interruption of shampoo and car commercial spots.

For my generation, the one that lived its adolescence during the worst repressive years of the military dictatorship and then played an active role in the opposition to Pinochet during the 1980s, the series brings back the emotional tone and the remembering of the crazy repressive circumstances in which we grew up from adolescence to adulthood.

Some of the facts may be distorted to make the series more palatable to the large majority of Chileans. However, the plot as a whole, not only reminds us of a military and police repressive regime via its thread of detention, torture, and death, but also the authoritarian tone that permeated every institution—family, school, and work. Reflecting about this was in itself a dangerous task even in families. Questioning your teacher could be costly academically or personally. And obviously, to stand pacifically protesting the detention and torture of a classmate or friend was considered a delinquent act.

Los 80 move us to struggle with the difficult task of identifying the torturer with an actual human being, a person who may in its daily life have similar feelings to the rest of us. The plural identity of those who held the authority during that time is hard to accept though. This is particularly difficult since those responsible and those that defended the government-institutionalized violence have not made amends, have not offered to restore some of what was lost to the family of those that were victimized, nor have fully acknowledged the pain that they inflicted on their compatriots.

The fictional plot intermingled with radio and television footage offers us the opportunity to learn about, quoting Allende again, “the deepest truths with the lies of fiction”.  Andres Wood, the producer of Los 80—the director of the most acclaimed Chilean film dealing with the aftermath of the dictatorship from the perspective of a child—Machuca—leads us into reclaiming a piece of history that is made even more painful today in lieu of the continuous and ferocious rejection of the traumatic truth by those who still defend the military dictatorship human rights violation legacy.

To still be a witness to the denial of historical facts and the traumatic consequences, in commentaries by television viewers is, however, excruciating. The denial is vast. There is little acknowledgement by many of my fellow compatriots of the suffering by the families of the disappeared, the existence of an immense group of exiles who are not accepted as part of today’s Chile, and the lives of so many that were forever changed because of a savage dictatorship. For those of us who survived, suffered through, and/or were witness of the tragedy around us, the denial and lack of accountability is tremendously painful. The denial of facts and its consequences is a reminder that reconstructing memory in itself does not necessarily still change the soul of a large segment of the Chilean population.

The series is not at fault. Its success is based on the ability to engage the various truths that have been constructed based on historical facts. The death of a journalist as form of vengeance on the part of the Chilean secret service is undeniable. However, for some the facts are still considered a fiction, are minimized, or justified in the name of patriotic unity, economic development, or any other utilitarian goal that sustains the atrocious human rights legacy of the military dictatorship.

Version en Espanol: Movimiento Generacion 80 Blog

Los 80: Ficción, Realidad, Memoria y Trauma en Chile


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Filed under: Community, Family, Psychology, Research, technology, Transnational, , , , , ,

5 Responses

  1. Mili Fischer says:

    Hola Gonzalo. Todavía no veo el último capítulo así es que por favor no vayas a dar ningún detalle! Very good take on an excellent series. Is Andres Wood involved somehow in this season’s Los 80? Boris Quercia is the director.

  2. Estimado. Muy interesante y comparto mucho de lo que dices. He visto y refleccionado mucho sobre la serie. Y como la reflección la hacen personas con historia, mi reflección proviene de una familia que vivió el otro lado de la moneda; ese pedazo de Chile que no tiene quién le ayude a construir su memoria. Me refiero a los que sufrieron con la izquierda en el poder durante los mil días de Allende.
    He estudiado, visto y conversado miles de horas con gente de izquierda para intentar, primero, entenderlos y después emocionarme con ellos. De hijos de exiliados y de un par de hijos de detenidos desaparecidos aprendí a calibrar la potencia del miedo y lo importante que es que todo el país vibre contigo en la misma sintonía cuando se habla de la violencia. En eso tienes razón al señalar que no se deben negar los hechos traumáticos.
    Pero te propongo la siguiente mirada. Quién cuenta la historia de esas familias chilenas que tenían el mismo miedo a la violencia de izquierda? Esa gente suele ver en Los 80 una negación de los hechos que para ellos también fueron traumáticos… Pienso en mis abuelos, padres y tíos, uno de los cuales recibió un escopetazo por la espalda de un renombrado líder de izquierda.
    Cuando mis abuelos y tíos ven en Los 80 a Gabriel, ven sienten una legítima pena porque nunca Chile vibrará con ellos en la misma sintonía. Gabriel es un gran personaje porque te muestra la parte bonita de los ideales de esa generación, pero también es una versión azucarada de los monstruos que encarnan los miedos de una parte dw Chile que, lamentablemente no tiene acceso a las productoras ni a los fondos para financiar a aquellos que cuenten sus miedos.
    El día que la izquierda entienda que hay personas que también tienen miedos y que necesitan de que todo Chile los sienta con ellos, habremos dado un gran paso. Hasta hoy, todos los que critican la serie son criticados de vuelta por ser partidarios de la dictadura y justificar violaciones a los DDHH a cambio de bienestar económico. Es más fácil descartar al oponente como un ridículo troll de derecha facista en vez de intentar xomprenderlo y sentir miedo con él. En ese sentido, creo que personajes como Gabriel o don Genaro no le hacen justicia al asunto.
    Un gusto leerte

  3. Comparto la opinion de Jose. Honestamente me gusta mucho esta serie, pero creo que han mitificado romanticamente el terrorismo del FPMR y demonizado el de la CNI siendo que ambos son grupos terroristas luchando en un contexto que para grupo representa su lado de la verdad. Creo que aun falta una serie que por ejemplo muestre la muerte de los carabineros (que no tenian ni pito que tocar) que fueron acribillados por el FPMR, la internacion de armas en Carrizal Bajo que eran suficientes para crear un guerrilla como las FARC en Colombia, los robos con metralleta a los bancos, etc. Yo tenia la edad del Felix en los 80s y vivi un tiroteo entre pacos y terroristas cuando robaron un banco que habia en el apumanque, porque no se muestra lo que realmente hacian los del FPMR y solo se muestra la tortura y crimen del otro lado? El error de la serie ha sido ese: terroristas son terroristas sin importar si viene del gobierno de turno o de ideales distorcionados de una juventud sin direccion.

    • bacigalupe says:

      Esas comparaciones no hacen sentido, la fuerza del estado es una, la fuerza de los que se oponen a una dictadura, otra. Seria como comparar la fuerza nazi, sus crímenes, con la resistencia judia, no hace sentido. El homologar ambas fuerzas de ese modo, es lo que yo planteo como la incapacidad de los que apoyaron a la dictadura de reconocer sus crímenes o a el apoyo a ellos, primero eso, despues viene la posibilidad de perdonar, no antes.

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