Sunday, September 4, 2011

Mourning a Chilean Icon

I doubt any of you in the states heard about this, but on Sept 2nd, a Chilean entertainment icon died in a plane accident.  His name was Felipe Camiroaga, and you can read more about him here if you feel so inclined.  However, I don't think the Wikipedia article will really do justice to it.

Imagine, if you will, that Oprah was a dashingly handsome man.  Now imagine (s)he had a morning talk show for 4 hours every morning on the most popular of the 3 TV networks - a show that alcoholic teenagers and 60 year old landladies alike watch.  Also imagine that (s)he had a late-night show as well, and also had intermittently starred in soap operas and movies.  Now imagine that his plane (a military plane, piloted by Chilean Air Force) disappeared off the coast of a small island during a storm when they couldn't land.  A door was found, along with 4 bodies (24 total on the plane).  Everybody is presumed dead.

This is more or less what the situation is down here.  So far on TV, I've now seen the presidents of all three major networks speak, as well as the PRESIDENT OF CHILE give a 30+ minute speech on the loss of this beloved icon.

I don't know if there's an American equivalent to this.  Maybe back in the days of 3 networks, it would have been possible.  But I don't think there's a single media figure whose loss could depress both grandmothers and fleites (Chilean hooligans - gangbanger types) like it has here.  The only comparison I can think of is the JFK assassination.  The whole country is shell-shocked, spending any free time they have checking the TV or asking others what they've heard/seen. 

The attitude around town has been noticeably different these past couple days.  I went to a restaurant to get lunch yesterday, and instead of serving people, the waiters, bartenders, and cashiers were all staring at the TV, which was talking about the news.  I went to a friend's house yesterday, and I met his grandmother/mother (usually there, but in their rooms) as they were in the living room watching the news.  My landlady had a couple friends over for dinner yesterday, and the entire time they were there, their eyes were glued on the TV, accompanied by quiet, somber conversation (as somber as Spanish gets, at least).  As we went out last night, we talked to a few people who were planning on stopping by the makeshift memorial outside the TV station.  At 6 am.

From my perspective, it's been crazy.  As I really didn't know the guy (actually, I didn't.  No "really"), I've felt relatively unaffected by this tragedy.  It's just been crazy to see everybody wandering around here in a state of complete shock.  I just take this as further proof of my theory that it's still 1980 in Chile.

It started to warm up, but now it's getting cold again.  I'm more than ready for summer at this point.  Bring on the heat, porfa!  (porfa = por favor)

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