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


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