Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Rape in Day Time Soaps

General Hospital is an American soap opera that owned my after school hours with my mother. It was all so intriguing witnessing the blossoming and drama that surrounded the relationships of many of the characters. The other day after doing some research on the day time phenomenon  (my mom totally DVRs it now); I came across the story of Luke Spencer and Laura Webber, the superstar couple that captured the hearts of so many women watching. Through the progression of the soap the writers have Laura fall in love with Luke despite the rape— their relationship meant to signify an act of love and redemption. However, as a young audience viewing what could be perceived as a sometimes noxious relationship, it is difficult not to question whether their relationship was healthy or even right for Laura Webber.

What puzzled me most was the dramatic climax of the rape depicted through a series of visual snippets (Luke’s aggression and Laura attempts to stop him) and Laura’s declarations and insistent 'no' to Luke. Further I was puzzled by the method used to frame the scene because it could have been construed as moment of seduction rather than rape.It is because of Laura’s blatant verbal refusals that the audience can really understand what happened

In reality the popularity of Anthony Geary, the actor playing Luke, increased exponentially even winning him an award from a devoted fan that read “America’s Most Beloved Rapist” (Levine 2007, 209). It is interesting to see how audiences accepted the rape and how some women worshiped Geary’s character. In Wallowing in Sex, Elena Levine notes the in the 1970s many daytime soaps used rape to add to the drama of their story lines. Days of Our Lives, Guiding Light even The Young and the Restless depicted acts of domestic violence to create appealing stories for their audiences. Thus leading to Levine’s question “… why was this subject so compelling for so many soap producers, as well as so many soap viewers, at this particular historical moment?” (Levine 2007, 224).

Through the years many soap operas still use the dramatic flair of domestic abuse and violence in constructing their story lines. As a viewer I wonder, as does Levine, why is this depiction so compelling? Further, why did audiences accept the character of Luke after he committed an act of rape?

Devonne Cusi | Communications Intern

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Public Display of Anger


People watching must be one of my favorite past times. I usually can’t help but make up colorful stories about   the fabulous and mysterious lives of strangers. So the other day, while enjoying some gossip and post work relaxation with one of my closest friends, we spotted the cutest couple at the bar.

I began my story…
He seemed a perfect mix of handsome, intellect and charm. She seemed happy and they spoke closely as if they were sharing an important secret…

Back to reality…
As I began to concoct a funny secret for them to share, both my friend and I were shocked by his abrupt and explosive outburst. “Why would you ask her if everything is okay? She’s my woman… You should ask me!” the man screamed at the startled bartender. A verbal battle began to ensue and all while the man’s  girlfriend began to shrink into her chair obviously embarrassed. “ I just wanted to make sure her food was alright,” said the bartender. “Well you should have asked me!” he shouted back. Grabbing his girlfriends arm roughly he forced her to defend his outburst as well. “Am I right?” he said.

 Long story short the metro police came and forced her boyfriend to leave. But I will never forget that forlorn look on her face that screamed ‘not again.’

Actions like these are not uncommon in unhealthy relationships. Public Display of Anger is the new PDA to look out for. Set off by the tiniest thing, public anger and abuse can escalate unless something is done to combat it. In this instance the police got involved and escorted the man out of the restaurant, but there are many instances where people stand idle. What would you do if you found yourself a witness or even participant in a situation like this?

Devonne Cusi | Communications Intern