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Crossposted from MY LEFT WING

Well, THIS is certainly groundbreaking:

'AMC' Introducing Transgender Character
By DAVID BAUDER, AP Sun Nov 26

NEW YORK -

In a story unusual even for a soap opera and believed to be a television first, ABC's "All My Children" this week will introduce a transgender character who is beginning to make the transition from a man into a woman.

The character, a flamboyant rock star known as Zarf, kisses the lesbian character Bianca and much drama ensues. The storyline begins with Thursday's episode of the daytime drama.

Okay... ZARF?????

But let's just look past that, shall we? Moving on...

The actor playing the role:

Jeffrey Carlson

There have been a handful of post-surgical transgender characters in television shows, including a college professor in the 2001 prime-time CBS series "The Education of Max Bickford" and a model in the short-lived ABC soap opera "The City" in 1996, according to the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation. Showtime's "The L Word" currently features a character changing from a woman into a man.

. . .

The show wasn't interested in doing something just to be sensational, she said. GLAAD and some transgenders were brought in as consultants in shaping the character, teaching the producers when it is appropriate to call a character "she" even before surgery, she said.

Damon Romine, a spokesman for GLAAD, said he hasn't seen the show yet but feels people involved were genuinely interested in telling the story with dignity. Emotions are so close to the surface in soap operas, and this story can serve a purpose by showing what transgenders go through, he said.

"I think it's groundbreaking and breakthrough television for daytime to put a spotlight on transgender people and tell their story," he said.

. . .

After Zarf establishes a bond with Bianca that leads to the kiss, an angry Bianca tells him she's a lesbian. It triggers something within Zarf about why it made such sense to be falling in love with a lesbian.

It's not clear, Carruthers said, whether "All My Children" will stick with the Zarf character through any surgery; one suspects the reaction of the soap's audience to the story will have a lot to do with it.

"She talks about peace so much," Carlson said of his character. "I hope that she finds some peace."

Please note the LACK of drama in the second paragraph as regards the lesbian -- because by now, the presence of homosexuals in television is de rigeur. Which I find MARVELOUS. Homosexuality is so accepted as a natural part of life that it no longer registers on the radars of the censors or the advertisers.

It's beautiful. As infuriated as I am whenever I think of the TRAVESTY of the persistent, nauseating denial of their civil rights when it comes to marriage equality, stuff like this just tickles me and reminds us all... we have come a long way, baby. And I say "we" because when it comes to homosexual men and women, well, I'll let Eugene V. Debs say it, he says it best:

... years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.

Of course, Debs used "meanest" in the older sense of the word, rather than the one to which most of us are accustomed:

  1. inferior in grade, quality, or character: "no mean reward."
  1. low in status, rank, or dignity: mean servitors.
  1. of little importance or consequence: mean little details.
  1. unimposing or shabby: a mean abode.
  1. small, humiliated, or ashamed: You should feel mean for being so stingy.
  1. (Informal) in poor physical condition.

And if there's any group in our society that suffers more humiliation and degradation, mockery and shaming -- well, show it to me, because I'll argue it to my grave that there is none other than the transgendered community -- pre- and post-op.

Which is not to say that, hey, homosexuals have it MADE! now, by any means. They are still a savagely treated minority in many areas of this country; they still suffer discrimination and ill treatment, even if in "good" society, it's subtle and oftentimes unconscious.

But, like blacks in the 70s and 80s, homosexuals have broken down one of the more important barriers there are in this country: the popular culture (read: film and television) color bar, so to speak. Everybody knows a few gay people, and while they're still, absurdly, disgustingly happy to tell you how they don't think "the gays" deserve special treatment, and they'd be much more comfortable with them if they didn't have to "flaunt it" -- oh, god, don't get me started on that -- I have no trouble with HETEROSEXUALS, if only they didn't have to FLAUNT it, don't you know -- well, it's coming apart at the seams, this bigotry against gays. Finally -- and that last few feet before the finish line? Well, ask any African-American you know -- they haven't crossed that line, either. Seems like Amurka is more than happy to "let" y'all get THIIIIIS close to crossing into the end zone and spiking the football and doing your touchdown dance.

Ugh. I just murdered TWO metaphors...

Anyway. Back to our transgendered brothers and sisters... According to the article, there have been trangendered characters here and there on television, and they're right. I can remember more than one on Ally McBeal and another few on other David E. Kelley shows; Kelley, being a dyed-in-the-wool liberal of highest quality, has always had an affinity for the downtrodden, the outcast, the sexually suspect, the "freaks," if you will.

But that was here and there, a 3 episode chacter arc, at best. Last season, Nip/Tuck introduced a 6 episode character arc with a pre-op transsexual called Cherry Peck, played by an actor named Willam Belli -- and played very well, in my estimation. That entire season Nip/Tuck was wonderful for the secondary and tertiary storylines -- I wasn't thrilled with the main storyline, but that's a tale for another day.

So here we stand, on the threshhold of another big push from a soap opera, long the standard bearers of breaking barriers on television (first gay character on tv? Soap. First character with AIDS? Soap). It goeth on and on, and for that reason, I say BRAVO, you purveyors of drama in the daylight hours, you dealers of detergent, you temptresses of teenagers to dally abed with affected coughs and clammy palms á la Ferris Bueller...

I say it without a trace of irony, ladies and gentlemen: Soap operas serve a greater good than mere disinfectant -- they cleanse, to be sure, but in the case of the betterment of our social mores, they purify, they edulcorate.

And, where the products they sell would seek to deodorize, in instances of groundbreaking social change, they dredge, they purge. In dragging the taboos out of their respective closets and onto the telvision screens of America, soap operas manage to do what loftier, more "respectable" mechanisms (like those tedious, earnest pleas for attendance at functions purported to educate but more likely to enervate) so often fail to do: they create change.

Sure, it's overkill. Let's face it -- 97% of the time, soap operas are ONLY there to dish out the softsoap. But, oh, that remaining 3%. Hell, who knows if they're even more than nominally aware of the jackhammer of consciousness they rattle through their audience's collective cemented ideas... Certainly, after the fact, they're willing to lay claim to the results; and nowadays, having been proved so often right and righteous, any decent soap PR person will hopefully point to that role as being the "real" reason they do what they do. Ah, hell -- give it to 'em.

Disclaimer

I haven't watched a soap opera since my college days, when watching NBC's witty and therefore doomed Santa Barbara was far preferable than attendance at some dreary required course in biology.

I blame soap operas for my subsequent failure to snag that degree. I also blame them for global warming and Anthony Geary's 30-year old hairdo.

Originally posted to My Left Wing on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:06 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Middle American housewives (9+ / 0-)

    being exposed to this in thier favorite soaps can only help increase visibility of the LGBT community.  

    Here's to hoping that they truly treat the subject matter with a modicum of respect and not turn it into a freakshow that reinforces false stereotypes of transgendered people.

    A different world cannot be built by indifferent people

    by Brubs on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:10:04 AM PST

  •  excellent (29+ / 0-)

    it won't be fun, it won't be pretty, but it's high time more of us addressed our own feelings on this topic.

    here in the progressive community, where we are accepting of diversity...loads of gays, many of us support same-sex unions, we are religious and atheist and everything in-between...whenever there's a diary about - yes - Ann Coulter, out come the unthinkingly bigoted hordes who make what they like to think are snarky comments about "Mann Coulter," remarks about her laryngeal morphology, etc.

    I did the exact same thing - at first. My knee-jerk (accent on "jerk") reaction was to make tranny jokes about this woman we love to hate. But my friend Robyn Elaine Servyn set me straight, in a hurry.

    After taking years to absorb the concepts around womens' issues in the sixties and seventies, it didn't take very long this time around to see that what I, and others, were doing was making "nigger" jokes...except in this case, the niggers were the transsexuals.

    My thesis: we are much, much better than this. We are all humans here together. The "people" on FReep, LGF, etc. are the people who mock anyone who's not white, male and christian. They are the ones who use people's sexuality as a club to beat them with.

    That. Is. Not. Us.

    -8.38, -7.74 Schadenfreude is a dish best served piping hot.

    by condoleaser on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:12:46 AM PST

  •  Middle American housewives (8+ / 0-)

    know people like this- everyone who ventures outside their church/school/house sometimes knows glbt people.
    I'm sure they'll take it in stride.

    It was after my AMC days, but I'm pretty sure AMC was the first soap to have openly gay characters.

    Good to see ya MSOC!!!

    •  AMC had the first character to have an abortion. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maryscott OConnor, wiretapthis

      Erica Kane had an abortion (1973); the writers have driven that groundbreaking moment into the ground (the child she aborted somehow is alive today thanks to a crazy medical doctor who was later buried alive ...)

      They did have a gay character - and one with AIDS - back in the 80's.  Right now Erica's daughter Bianca is gay.  We all thought she had a girlfriend in Paris but now with this storyline who knows?

      Can you tell I watch the show?  

      The challenge here is transexuality is hard to explain.  My 83-yr-old grandma understands what gay is.  She doesn't understand, and I don't know that she could understand, all of the complexity there.  How do you tell that story?

      I don't own any stocks or bonds. All my money is tied up in debt.

      by muffilator on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:16:05 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  remember when (6+ / 0-)

    Buffy had to change channels, because Willow kissed her girlfriend?

    And Dawson's Creek dealt with Jack coming to grips with being gay as a HS football QB.

    TV may be fluff, but it does normalize what needs to be normal.

    My son watched both these shows and never batted an eye.  

    Yay for ABC.

  •  dreary biology course (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wiretapthis

    You close by suggesting that even a soap opera beat out attending a dreary college biology course. Many here no doubt feel much the same way.  But now we can learn biology by watching a soap opera.  Great.

    •  You do not learn biology from watching soap opera (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maryscott OConnor, collegekid318

      I am sorry MSOC did not enjoy her biology class, but as someone with a degree in biology and works in biomedical research, maybe that class would be worthwhile now.

      I am sure there is much science that will not be covered in the soap opera. What do you know about hormones, mode of action, risks and benefits?

      Enjoy the soap opera, but don't think you're learning anything there.

      Now I can go back to studying for my law degree by watching reruns of LA Law and Law and Order.

  •  Big shift (10+ / 0-)

    Another great example of the mainstreaming of gay characters and the shift to transgender characters as the new "edgy" is Mr. Garrison on South Park. First he is a closeted homophobe, then he is openly gay (but refused employment as a teacher), then he is coupled with Mr. Slave, and finally he undergoes a sex change.

    Frankly, as a gay man I am thrilled to see gay become boring. Many transgender people that I know would be happy to be less attention-worthy as well.

  •  I remember the hullabaloo when "Bianca" came out (8+ / 0-)

    It was a pretty big deal when All My Children took a relatively important character (the daughter of the show's star for more than 20 years, the famous "Erica Kane" who is played by Susan Lucci) and made the young girl's character a lesbian. I didn't watch the show much, but for daytime TV and its subplots of rampant heterosexuality, it seemed that they really took a big chance to have a popular character come out as a lesbian. At that time, it was one thing to introduce a gay character on a show, but to have a young woman who has been a part of the show for probably about 15 or 20 years come out as a young adult was pretty risky. They wrote plotlines that made a decent attepmt at addressing many related social issues (such as mom not being accepting and trying to "change" the daughter back, losing friendships, gay discrimination and hatred, and open homosexual relationships). I was rather surprised that the daytime TV audience didn't make a major rebellion against the show.

    I only saw the show maybe a half dozen times during this "coming out" period, and I really watched it to see how they'd treat this character that I used to watch as a kid. I was really impressed with the risks AMC and ABC had to be taking, and it seemed they did a fair job of really exploring a difficult subject to educate their audience, rather than just exploiting homosexuality as a curiosity.

    I remember a time when the American President was the leader of the free world. ****** Repeat after me: "Neoconservatism has failed America."

    by land of the free on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:22:27 AM PST

  •  This is probably a good thing. (9+ / 0-)

    I grew up in rural America with little contact with the gay community (ironically, an openly gay radio station manager in our community of 2,600 was generally accepted without prejudice--even permitted to direct the high school's senior play, go figure.)

    In any event, the emergence of Billy Crystal's Jodie Dallas character on Soap was clearly a turning point. Everyone loved that show and I have no doubt that the laughter took the edge off of the notion of having people of differing orientation in the family.

    Baby steps, but steps.

  •  Good or bad... (13+ / 0-)

    ...will depend on how it's done and how they respond to the attack you just know is coming their way.

    I'm not looking forward with pleasure at the attack that is headed our way.

    Robyn

    Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

    by rserven on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:28:01 AM PST

  •  great story (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    wiretapthis, Prince Vogelfrei

    and...when did bianca become a lesbian?

    me and my sister used to watch AMC during summers in the early 1990s....goes to show how much I kept up.

    shrill is unbecoming.

    by terrypinder on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:30:12 AM PST

    •  Proof that time is an illusion... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maryscott OConnor, wiretapthis

      From the early 1990's to now is only 10 or 15 years in real time. As I understand it, that's several centuries of soap minutes (which, incidentally, bear an inversely proportional relationship to football minutes). You could probably catch right up before the middle of next week! Hypothetically speaking, of course - not sayin' you'd want to.  ;)

      You live and learn. At any rate, you live. -Douglas Adams

      by wandabee on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:49:26 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  sss (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wandabee

        Actually, there is a kid alive somewhere in the Chandler mansion.  He went to do his homework and never came back, or was ever mentioned again ...

        Yeah, they have kids supposedly born in the 1990's as teens on there today.  Time is different in Pine Valley ...

        I don't own any stocks or bonds. All my money is tied up in debt.

        by muffilator on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:18:37 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I wish I knew their secret... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wiretapthis

          I never have enough time. It would be nice to wake up in the morning, turn on my inner teevee, and change the channel to, say, a week ago Thursday. On the other hand, I would never want to watch the reruns on channels 1994, 2000 or 2004.

          You live and learn. At any rate, you live. -Douglas Adams

          by wandabee on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 08:52:09 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  please, help me out here re: time dilation (0+ / 0-)
          I thought you were indicating that time runs SLOWER on the soaps than IRL, but ...

          "kids supposedly born in the 1990's as teens on there today"

          hmmm... it's still 2006, so a kid born in 1990 is now 16 years old; kids born in 1993 are 13... so are you saying they've grown up faster than IRL?

          {Obviously, Thestral doesn't watch enough TV...)

          •  Hopefully, 16 year olds ... (0+ / 0-)

            ... don't have 5 year old children of their own by then.  

            They mostly speed things up by just a few years (upping all the kids ages by 5-7 years) but some changes have been really noticable (like Colby - shouldn't she be 10, not 17?)

            I don't own any stocks or bonds. All my money is tied up in debt.

            by muffilator on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 12:03:14 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  ABC soaps (4+ / 0-)

    ABC soaps have always been on the cutting edge of stuff like this, even back in the 60s and 70s.  ONE LIFE TO LIVE was very forward for its day on racial issues during the 70s, for example.  There was a whole  major plotline with a light-skinned black character who was attempting to pass as white.  That seems kind of dated now, but it was a big deal in the 60s.

    In recent decades, it's been ALL MY CHILDREN that's been doing stuff like having openly gay characters, characters with AIDS, etc.

  •  All My Children (4+ / 0-)

    Has been a ground-breaking soap opera for many, many years.  They were the first to have an openly gay character (Donna Pescow). Back in '71 or '72, they had characters protesting against Vietnam, including an Emmy-winning performance by one whose son was killed in Vietnam.  

    Its just another day, and I'm still breathing...

    by Barbara Morrill on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:42:02 AM PST

    •  I found this (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Maryscott OConnor, wiretapthis

      Ruth and Joe married on screen but found their happiness cut short by the Vietnam War. Agnes Nixon had always intended for her soap to deal with important issues of the day, so to facilitate Richard Hatch exiting the role of Phil Brent his character was drafted into service. Ruth became an anti-war protester and made some of the first anti-Vietnam speeches aired on American Daytime Television. This storyline decision, although troubling to television executives at the time, won Fickett the first Emmy Award given to a performer in daytime television, in 1973. She received a Daytime Emmy nomination in 1974 for her performance in a storyline that involved her son being missing in action. This was another milestone for daytime TV, as it was the first time a war scene was aired on daytime television. The audience saw Phil being hit by a bullet and going down, then carried away by a young Vietnamese boy (played by the adopted son of a friend of Agnes Nixon).

      Its just another day, and I'm still breathing...

      by Barbara Morrill on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:56:29 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not only that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BarbinMD, wiretapthis

      But the character of Erica was the first TV character to have an abortion (though we have now learned that she didn't really have the abortion, like she thought she did.)

      "Truth never damages a cause that is just."~~~Mohandas K. Gandhi

      by LynneK on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:58:57 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I actually got hooked on that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BarbinMD

      show back in the Jurassic when I was hospitalized for a few days. It was the lovely Phoebe that kept me coming back for a while even after I got out.

  •  Great news - & what fun for the writers! (6+ / 0-)

    Always exciting for a writer to be trying something new, ploughing fresh fields. A lot will depend on their creativity & vision...I hope a good measure of sharp humor, as in Billy Crystal's character in Soap that several posters have already cited.

    Copyright 2006; "We work to bring the dawn!" -my gran'mère, who (at 15) fought Nazis in occupied France in 1943.

    by Monique Radevu on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:48:33 AM PST

    •  Yes, the A-list writers! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Monique Radevu

      A lot will depend on their creativity & vision...

      Oh, I feel certain that the writers of "All My Children" are chock full of creativity and vision, to say nothing of subtle emotional shadings and great dialogue!

      (/snark)

      •  Hey, lots of good writers were compelled to do (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Maryscott OConnor

        hack work; Christopher Isherwood, Faulkner... a bit of research would turn up an impressive list I'd guess!

        One can but hope...

        Copyright 2006; "We work to bring the dawn!" -my gran'mère, who (at 15) fought Nazis in occupied France in 1943.

        by Monique Radevu on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 08:13:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  That's pretty condescending. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wiretapthis

        They, at least, are being paid -- and paid well -- to write. They do not wait tables, nor do they work in soul-killing cubicles... I would wager they are very grateful to have the work, and that perhaps a few of them might be working on their novels or screenplays or spec scripts for NIGHTTIME television...

        Anyway. If I were a soap writer and read that comment of yours, it would hurt my feelings.

        •  Oh, for the love of God (0+ / 0-)

          If I were George W. Bush, this whole blog would make me feel bad.

          If I were Keanu Reeves, the reviews of my movies would make me feel bad.

          If I were a crappy NBA player, the sports writers would make me feel bad.

          And I guess you'd rush to their defense with "at least they are being paid to be an actor/athlete/President." Gimme a break. Since when can't we call people out for sucking?

          •  My inner (0+ / 0-)

            icarus is humiliated by having written such drivel above.  I started a sentence with "and" and my last sentence was a fragment.  Dear me!

          •  Dude, you're erecting flaccid straw men (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wiretapthis

            I am talking about the writers of soap operas. Some of whom may actually find this diary and its discussion, since DKos is so everlovin' poooopular now, and I felt compelled to offer my opinion of your comment.

            I don't give a shit about GWB or Keanu Reeves or NBA players. I give a shit about the writers whose work you so casually dismiss as crap.

            YOU try churning out scripts at that pace. Plot AND dialogue, mind you -- and YOU keep track of the glacially paced twists and turns going back 20 years or more, and juggle the egos of 6 or 7 would-be divas and divos. I sincerely doubt you could do better, and I'd be willing to take odds you'd do worse.

            This is a ludicrous exchange; I'm having my final say about it here, you feel free to take the last word and let loose with some well-crafted invective...

            •  We need to talk about the def of "straw man" (0+ / 0-)

              Members of Daily Kos, do not randomly throw around jargon. If you would like to accuse somebody of "erecting a straw man," learn what a straw man, in fact, is.

              For the record: a "straw man" is a sham argument set up to be defeated.

              For instance, if I were to characterize Maryscott OConnor's position as "soap opera writers should all be awarded Pulitzer Prizes" and went on to refute said position, I would then be guilty of setting up a straw man.

              This is distinct from disputing a major premise. In this case, Maryscott OConnor's arguments looks like this:

              FIRST ARGUMENT
              MP: Nobody who gets paid for X can be bad at X
              mp: Soap opera writers get paid for writing
              C: No soap opera writers can be bad at writing

              SECOND ARGUMENT
              MP: It is bad to criticize people if it would hurt their feelings.
              mp: Icarus criticized people in a way that might hurt their feelings.
              C: Icarus' criticism was bad.

              My response was to dispute the major premises by way of example. The first MP is, as I pointed out, flawed, unless you accept that George W. Bush isn't a bad President, that Keanu Reeves isn't a bad actor, and that Pete Chillcut wasn't a bad basketball player.

              The second MP is, as I pointed out, flawed, unless you accept that criticizing GWB is bad.

              Maryscott OConnor replies that she "do[es]n't give a shit about GWB or Keanu Reeves or NBA players." If that is the case, she needs to restructure her arguments in such a way that GWB, KR, and NBA players would be exempted from her MPs.

              Simply announcing that one does not wish to defend the entirety of one's major premise, however, does not strengthen one's argument, and dismissing inconvenient scenarios as "straw men" is simply incorrect.

              •  asdf (0+ / 0-)

                Oh, I feel certain that the writers of "All My Children" are chock full of creativity and vision, to say nothing of subtle emotional shadings and great dialogue!

                Your MP's:
                You are a judge of good and bad writing.
                Soap Opera writers are BAD, just because you say so.
                "All my Children's writers have no creativity or vision.
                You are an expert in writing and can make that call.
                We must believe you have watched and studied it, enough to make that call.
                One's employment defines their skill level.
                We should sit up, shut up and believe you.
                Since YOU have deemed they SUCK, it is okay to paint their suckage with a broad brush, and indefensable to defend them.

                Did I miss anything?

              •  I used it correctly. (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wiretapthis

                For the record: a "straw man" is a sham argument set up to be defeated.

                I'm fairly certain that's exactly what you did with your inclusion of several purported targets of my ire, none of whom actually fit into the subject at all, but who were suitable for your purpose in trying to make my argument seem ridiculous.

                Of course, we may have different interpretations of what a "straw man" as not-so-strictly defined as it is in any dictionary -- but I know exactly what it is, and I called it like I seed it.

                Damn. I said you could have the last word, didn't I? Well, HAVE it, then -- but don't go impugning my comprehension of English vocabulary terms and expect me not to respond, eh?

                Incidentally... I think we're both looking rather ridiculous at this point. A couple of intellectual snobs trying to one-up easch other on a BLAAAAAWG. Ugh.

        •  whats wrong with (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          pkbarbiedoll

          waiting tables?  It IS acting.  For money.  My inner waitress is aching over this.

          /pulling your chain.  heh.

  •  Zarf? Seriously? (3+ / 0-)

    Did they use the "Douglas Adams Method of Formulating Outlandish Character Names" to come up with that one?

    The whole concept is certainly a step forward, but how about a real name?  I hope they don't screw the storyline up.

    i am jack's complete lack of surprise -- fight club

    by bustacap on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 06:51:25 AM PST

    •  Yeah, the name is worrisome (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bustacap, wiretapthis

      In fact, it leads me to suspect that they will not treat the character with respect.  (I beg your pardon to anyone named Zarf, but) I've never heard the name "Zarf" before.  It seems almost . . . non-human, alien.  Not a good first impression of how the character will be handled, afaic.  But I guess we'll see.

      "We must use what we have to invent what we desire" -- Adrienne Rich

      by rcald on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:17:24 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Transamerica (3+ / 0-)

    anyone who hasn't seen Transamerica - it wasn't as preachy as you may imagine - actually fun ;)

  •  How bias free are we? (4+ / 0-)

    There is a great series of tests that look at our implicit associations about sexuality, color, age, weight, ethnicity and so on.  You can access it through this site:
    http://www.tolerance.org/...

    I've taken two of the tests.  They don't test for your actions or professed attitutes.  For example, I have spent a lot of time and energy on getting women more access to scientific careers, but the test shows I still think that it makes more sense to see men doing science.  I could even feel that during the test, as I struggled to associate "grandmother" with "physics," while the same for "grandfather" gave me no problem at all.  

    I was surprised when I counted as having no unconscious bias against African Americans, but then it's taken me at least thirty years to get there.  Whew!  And the help of my son in fact, who was so puzzled by the bias around him.

  •  I have a transgender niece (5+ / 0-)

    (soon to be nephew) who has created our own family drama. Her parents are 'born again' so there's the drama side. Those of us in the family who appreciate diversity love the irony there. The rest of the family who are fairly close-minded are grappling with Mel/Ryan in various ways. If one wants to see the true colors of one's family I highly reccommend having a transgender in the family.

    roseeriter

    "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones"

    by roseeriter on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:05:07 AM PST

    •  Sucks (3+ / 0-)

      I know.  Being ts and having a fundamentalist family is horrible.  It doesn't matter if you go to church yourself, the mere fact that you are (in their warped opinion) going against the will of (their) god will result in blind, paranoid judgment.  

      I feel for your relative.  

    •  Dare I suggest that it is the (4+ / 0-)

      family that has created the drama, and not your niece?

      If there's one thing I've never, EVER had trouble accepting, it's the FACT that transgendered people ABSOLUTELY cannot help being what they are. That they would do just about ANYTHING to be "normal," but simply cannot live in the bodies they've accidentally been handed.

      •  I agree (4+ / 0-)

        I worded it wrong.

        roseeriter

        "Time is for careful people, not passionate ones"

        by roseeriter on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 08:32:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  How dare you suggest (0+ / 0-)

        that they are not normal ? Its people like you who think they are abnormal that cause the beatings and deaths of transgendered people.
        Don't you see that you are being bigoted and harmful?

        And if abc includes a normal character onto one of the stupid soaps , so what , its just another story about a normal human being . For you to take any notice of it at all shows that you have mental problems .

        Now if they wrote in a ann coulter character and had all the others endlessly insult that character , now that would be something . I'd tune in for that .

        •  Um, dude... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          indycam, rserven, wiretapthis

          They're NOT normal. Heterosexual and gender "appropriate" is "normal" in this species -- hadn't you NOTICED that?

          To call someone "not normal" in this sense is not pejorative -- it's descriptive.

          I did NOT say "unnatural." Scientifically speaking, every damned subtle difference in human sexuality is natural -- by definition.

          "Normal" is a sociological term, in this case.

          So chill, darlin' -- I am ON THE SIDE OF THE TRANSGENDERED.

          You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

          •  I am offended (0+ / 0-)

            by your remarks .
            Would you please buy a clue?
            Why do you insist on offending us ?
            In your "apology" you managed to be more offensive than you were in the original.
            Move on with your life.

            "They're NOT normal."
            Yes they are ! Its completely normal , its been this way from the dawn of time and will continue to be this way until the end of time . It is found in all cultures around the world . Always has and always will be .
            Would you dare ever say that blacks , jews or arabs are not normal ?

            "Heterosexual and gender "appropriate" is "normal" in this species -- hadn't you NOTICED that?"
            I fully reject that . That is not right . Your catagoreizing normal vs not normal is harmful and damaging . It leads to small minded people doing nasty things to good honest decent people .

            "I am ON THE SIDE OF THE TRANSGENDERED."
            No you are not , you dehumanize TRANSGENDERED people and embolden the haters . Your words lead to genocide , can't you see that ?

            "You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is."
            BINGO !!!
            We have a winner !!!
            That is ultimately what I was writing about .
            Thank you for putting it in black and white for me .
            Its been written in many ways by many people but some still refuse to hear what is being said , so now that you have said it maybe they can / will understand .  

            •  there is a huge difference (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              indycam

              between the numerical norm, meaning "average" and calling something wrong or unnatural.

              You are calling someone on a semantic definition that wasn't her intent.  

              For the record, I will proudly never be normal or average, for that matter.

              There is also absolutely nothing the fuck wrong with me, or that fact.  

              •  wiretapthis (0+ / 0-)

                "For the record, I will proudly never be normal or average, for that matter."
                Being non norm is the norm , so you are normal .

                wiretapthis is normal , na na na . Take that ! Ha !

                "There is also absolutely nothing the fuck wrong with me"
                Sure sure .

                If you have not been reading all the ,
                transgendered / ann coulter / insults / you may not say that / bla bla bla posts ,
                My post above will make no sense at all .

          •  indycam thinks he's responding as I do (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            wiretapthis

            clueless

            Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

            by rserven on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 05:49:44 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  here is a clue for you (0+ / 0-)

              You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

              •  I asked questions. (0+ / 0-)

                You gave answers.  The tirades came from you.  I wasn't even angry.  That all came from your side.

                Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

                by rserven on Tue Nov 28, 2006 at 06:38:49 PM PST

                [ Parent ]

                •  "That all came from your side." (0+ / 0-)

                  1-"Continuing with the gender-related cracks?"
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  2-"Would you please buy a clue?"
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  3-"Implying that Coulter is transgendered is offensive to transgendered people."
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  4-"Why do you insist on offending us?"
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  5-"So how can you claim that anything about her gender is unkown."
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  6-"If you would have ever been called an "it", as I have, you might understand just how dehumanizing such references make transgendered people feel."
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  7-"As for your "true hermaphrodite/chimers" crap, elouise used to spout that crap, but it was rejected by an intersex activist.  Are you elouise in disguise?"
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  8-"Move on with your life."
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  9-"You're an insulting ass."
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  10-"Why can't you absorb this? The reason you can't, of course, is that you do not want to do so. From this perspective, it's all really quite sad."
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is.

                  11-"I mean, Jesus, dude...how gullible are you?"
                  You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is."

                  "I wasn't even angry" vs "You're an insulting ass."
                  "I wasn't even angry" vs "Why do you insist on offending us?"

                  "And stop emailing my account." vs "It's called Freedom of Speech.  Do you have a problem with people exercising that freedom?"

                  "I've described your behavior to some of the DKos....to some of the DKos membership.  They told me it was stalking." vs "It's called Freedom of Speech.  Do you have a problem with people exercising that freedom?"

                  "Nobody here was arguing until you showed up." vs "It's called Freedom of Speech.  Do you have a problem with people exercising that freedom?"

                  •  I'm not the one who said something offensive... (0+ / 0-)

                    ...that you seen totally incapable of letting go.  I said you said something offensive.  You had a choice of reactions you could make to that.  One would be to just accept that you had offended someone and move on with your life.  Another is to ask why and try to come to some accomodation.  A third was to attack the person who was offended, defend your right to be offensive even while claiming you weren't, all the while being even more offensive in the defense of yourself.  Each time you said something offensive, I pointed it out and you got ever more angry.  I, on the other hand, was quite calm when I was posting.

                    You have ever right to say what you wish to say.  Freedom of Speech.  But other people have that same right and get to respond by telling you their reactions to that speech.  If they are offended, they get to say that.  You are the one person who does not get a say in how other people feel about what you said, because they are reporting their feelings, not yours.

                    Is the "exact opposite" of what you are supposed to be someone who did not say something offensive on the occasion it was pointed out that you did?

                    I called you an ass because on the occasion of your increasingly vitriolic responses, you were acting like an ass.  I'm sorry if the truth hurt you, but it was the truth.  

                    It all comes down to the fact that you tried to use the transsexual/transgender identity as a weapon against Coulter.  A transsexual woman told you it was inappropriate to do so and you started using even more language generally used in tranny-bashing incidents.

                    It's quite possible that you didn't mean to be offensive, that you didn't understand the import of your words.  That can be fixed.  You could have spent the past month trying to learn why what you said was deemed offensive.  There are thousands of Kossacks here who could help you understand that, because they do understand.  Instead you have fixated on this issue.  It seems to have become an obsession with you.  Why?

                    What do you expect to happen as a result of your behavior?  

                    Your current fixation

                    Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

                    by rserven on Wed Nov 29, 2006 at 06:49:05 PM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                    •   "I'm not the one who said something offensive" (0+ / 0-)

                      You are incredibly offensive , you read something and decide you are offended because of what you read into the statement . Then you feel free to make all sorts of wild , filthy , unfounded and inappropriate statements .

                      "It all comes down to the fact that you tried to use the transsexual/transgender identity as a weapon against Coulter."
                      Once again with this same old untruth ?
                      When will you let go of this false claim ?
                      Its a lie that you have made up .
                      Its incredible offensive !
                      Its libel . Its defamation .

                      You fail to see the truth at every chance , I'm sick of your petty small minded unthinking accusations . Your so stuck on yourself you refuse to see your failures , you are so certain that you are right that you can never admit that you got it absolutely wrong , you can't even start to think about seeing the truth thats been put to you over and over and over again .
                      I thought I could help you see what a mistake you have made , but I see that no matter what I say you will never get the truth . You are living example of the phrase
                      None are so blind as those who will not see .

                      I give up on you completely .

                      "You might want to read a bit more carefully before launching into a tirade accusing someone of being the exact opposite of what she is."

                      •  filthy? (0+ / 0-)

                        The only name I used was ass.  That's filthy?

                        My claim is not false.  You used statements that are incredibly offensive to transsexual women.  Even implying Coulter is one of us is offensive.  That's the truth.  Truth is always a defense against accusation of libel and slander.

                        Are you claiming you never said those things?  

                        Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

                        by rserven on Thu Nov 30, 2006 at 10:57:13 AM PST

                        [ Parent ]

      •  Wednesday's Poem du Jour... (0+ / 0-)

        ...will be "We are Normal: a duet".

        I've come to wonder why normal is a worthy objective, but you are correct about most transgendered people.  Life circumstances being what they are, however, normal is not an option for many of us.

        Robyn

        Teacher's Lounge opens each Saturday, sometime between 10am and 12 noon EST

        by rserven on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 10:56:02 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Robyn (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rserven

          my normal encompasses you.  :)

        •  For the record... (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rserven, wiretapthis

          I've NEVER considered "normal" to be a worthy objective. In my estimation, it is glorified mediocrity.

          To be "average" -- is this not something most people consider an insult? "Average" talent is laughable; "average" intelligence is derided as the "lowest common denominator."

          I've never once considered myself normal, for instance -- I've too much pride and arrogance for that.

          IN AA, we refer to people who are not alcoholic as "normies." "Normal" people. And there has been, ever since the inception of the widespread use of that word in AA meetings, a constant, endless semantic debate over whether it's a "good" thing to call "them" "NOrmal."

          The insistence and seemingly inexorable pull toward making moral issues out of scientific ones is one of humankind's most despicable, disposable habits. We won't see the end of it in our lifetime, and I seriously believe it will share the same lifespan as organised religion. Only when humans outgrow their desperate attachment to religions that rely on faith in an all-powerful being that disapproves of, for instance, the sexual actions of a creature supposedly created by said all-powerful being to have sex and enjoy it -- this is the nadir of human inclinations, in my opinion.

          Anyway... boy, I did ramble on there, eh?

  •  GLBT lit for young adults (4+ / 0-)

    Julie Ann Peters wrote an awesome young adult novel, entitled Luna, which follows the story of a transitioning transgendered teen, as told through the eyes of his sister.  Nominated for the National Book Award, it eventually ended up losing to Pete Hautmann's novel Godless (another fine work).

    Anyway, just thought I'd mention Luna, because I think it's a groundbreaking work.

    As for All My Children, good for them!  

    "The cheering can be heard not just in America itself but around the planet." -- Martin Kettle

    by Mad Mom on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:09:34 AM PST

  •  Based on the highly insulting storyline (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maryscott OConnor

    that Bianca got via head writer Megan McTavish, I wouldn't hold out too much hope that this will be handled in a responsible way.

    It was great that Bianca's groundbreaking character was introduced on AMC, but many fans were horrified by the way McTavish did everything possible to keep Bianca from having a normal relationship. Rape, pregnancy -- you name it.

    I'm surprised AMC is going down such a controversial path again with this new character.

    "God bless America. Let's save some of it." - Edward Abbey

    by Naturegal on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:09:35 AM PST

    •  Bianca -- AMC's 'Magical Negro*' (3+ / 0-)

      On  All My Children, the ‘Magical Negro Roles’ are played by ‘damaged’ White people in continuing roles rather than  by African American characters,  (who are usually occasional players portraying ‘competent adults’ who advance plots, but are rarely protagonists in  their own stories. )

      If you're looking for Problem Solvers who offer good advice, good character, or even decent conduct,   you're looking to "Retarded Stewart" (high functioning developmentally challenged easle artist ) “Crazy Lilly (idealized Golden Poster Child for autism spectrum disorder, )  Senior Citizen Myrtle (she’s old, she’s wise, she’s on camera once every once in a while)  “Broken Jonathan” (only pretending to be Stuart-like) ... and of course the Brave and Sensible (and largely asexual,)  Lesbian Mother Bianca.  

      In the distant past, AMC’s writers did give themselves the trouble of researching the peculiarities of their ‘special’ characters and used them as ‘teaching opportunities’ about the ‘issues’ and ‘disabilities’ the characters represented.  These days – ‘not so much.’

      So there ought to be a train-wreck fascination to how the ‘Battling for Babies’ crew is going to treat the “woman trapped in a man’s body” McGuffin.  Given the way they treat Heterosexual Breeder Women  (write an interesting character, remove  25% of body mass, as well as any traces of Honor,  Reason or  Empathy)... I doubt that advocates for the Transgendered will have TOO much to complain about.

      *A word of explanation for those who need it: starting in the mid-60s  Black literary critics started taking exception to  "Magical Negro" characters whose entire purpose was to illuminate and solve the problems of the White characters. "Uncle Tom" and "Man Friday" are the prototypes but "Jim" in Huckelberr Finn is one too ... and half the roles played by Sidney Poitier and Whoopie Goldberg can be shoehorned into the category.

  •  Did I read this right? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maryscott OConnor, wiretapthis

    Not only have we a real live m2f on a soap, but she may be lesbian too?  Beautiful.  Kudos to ABC!!!

  •  I love the Eugene Debs quote (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maryscott OConnor, wiretapthis

    We truly are all connected no matter where we stand on the rungs of society.

    Glad to see you back!!!!!

    ..do you know why George Bush is so pissed off at Arabs? They brought us algebra. --Kurt Vonnegut

    by proudprogressiveCA on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 07:34:43 AM PST

  •  AMC has been groundbreaking before... (0+ / 0-)

    like when they had a religous cult storyline back in the day.  Some of those cult-members are rumoured to be kossacks....

  •  I have to say (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maryscott OConnor

    that trans is one of the more confusing things for many.  I totally "get" being born as the wrong gender and changing, but the relationship thing confuses me.

    I remember being at a party in DC, my cousin Jimmy had thrown, and one of the couples there was a man having the m2f operation.  

    This cousin Jimmy, may he RIP,  BTW:

    I asked, "Well if you're both attracted to men, and he has the operation, won't that make you, uh straight now?"  They laughed at me, and said, thats just one of the things they couldn't explain either.  Love transcends, and besides, some joke about being too used to eachother to break up over a "little thing" like that.

    Heh.  Gotta love Jimmy's friends.

    Anyway, if my SBNN status still leaves me confused, hopefully this show will open dialogue for the narrow folks out there, and help us all get it better.

    •  Gender and Sexuality (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wiretapthis

      It's only confusing because we tend to conflate gender with sexuality.  When the two are separated understanding trans folk is much easier.  Our expression of gender, and what may or may not be between our legs has nothing to do with our orientation.  There should be nothing unnatural about the existence of lesbian MTFs (pre or post op), or gay FTMs (pre or post op).  The only thing that surprises me is the level of misunderstanding and laziness by the masses with accepting those different from themselves.

      •  Thanks pk (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        pkbarbiedoll

        for trying to address this for me.

        I knew both men for years, and they had no problem with my inquisitive nature.  They were both decidedly gay men, originally.  

        That readers digest version of our discussion, was true as written.  As the evening progressed, they did say they were concerned what would happen post-op, but their love of and for eachother would keep them together.  

        My confusion didn't stem from orientation of someone who had the op, just the partner of someone who someone who had it, and happened to be gay.  

        The fact they were both open to being, (delicately put) inventive and enjoying how they already interacted, made them flexible enough to make it work.

        Of course, they did know couples it didn't work out for.

        There is nothing "unnatural" under my sun.  Like any relationship, only the people in it need to get it, and choose what makes them happy.

        Please understand, I am neither lazy nor trying to be dismissive of anyone.  That is why I ask these things, so maybe someone who went through it could help me understand better.

        •  Asking questions (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wiretapthis

          isn't a sign of laziness or unwillingness to learn - sorry if I suggested otherwise.  My comment about laziness was directed at people who should know better, but don't.  I've run into a handful of otherwise very progressive people who would rather trans women be excluded from lesbian circles.   I'm shocked that attitudes like that still exist, which is why it's so important for little things like this soap opera reaching mainstream America.  

          People fear(and ostracize) what(and who) they don't understand.  I hope one day we break through and show the mainstream and yes some misguided progressives that we are just like them - although with different histories.  Some of us are attracted to women, others to men.  It's life.  

  •  1975 was the first time I remember (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Maryscott OConnor, wiretapthis

    seeing this subject matter treated on television.  It was a two parter season opener of "Medical Center".  Actually, I thought it was very well done.  

    http://www.imdb.com/...

    One of the very best was the two part season opener of the 1975 fall season. One of the hospital staff, married with a wife and teenage son, has decided to no longer submerge his true self. Robert Reed, a closeted gay man in real life ironically enough, plays the doctor. Needless to say his decision to have Sexual Reassignment Surgery causes a jolt among family, friends, and colleagues.

  •  Meantime, in Massachussetts (4+ / 0-)

    our ass of a governor (not for long, thankfully-- we just elected ourselves a real governor :)) is clearly running for president.

    Gay marriage has been legal in MA for a couple of years now, and the sky has not fallen. The bigots can't even get the question on the ballot to disallow it through the Constitutional Convention mechanism. So guess what Romney is doing? He is using our tax dollars to ask our Supreme Court to order that this question be put on the ballot. Not to mention he is playing with people's lives. What an ass.

    And of course, to add insult to injury, we had a plant explosion right before Thanksgiving. Took out a couple of residential blocks around it. But it happened at night, so no one died. Romney called it "a miracle." My husband blew a gasket. I tend to see it as insulting myself. See, his God apparently didn't bother to stop the explosion that left many people homeless, he only bothered to make sure no one died. If you continue the line of thought, it would appear that if the explosion was stopped alltogether, we wouldn't know there was a miracle. Only by allowing the devastation the miracle would be established. What an ass.

  •  Great Diary Mary Scott (4+ / 0-)

    To answer your question regarding other groups that have had it rough... I would include kids / adults born with obvious handicaps like Downs Syndrome, autism and the like.  Anything that marks them as deficient or "retarded" opens them up to ridicule, abuse by caretakers, and even attacks by others.

    Maybe not on the same level of violence directed at gays and transgendered, but even the less obvious abuse and ridicule can result in long-term harm to someone.

    Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. -8.75 / -6.10

    by Alegre on Mon Nov 27, 2006 at 08:17:59 AM PST

  •  Soaps: Smart vs Stupid-Ass (6+ / 0-)

    Soap operas -- and I think, in particular, ABC soap operas -- have pushed the envelope on certain social issues. And, because soaps are on 5 hours a week, say 50 or so weeks out of the year, that's a lot of time to fill up with character exploration (whether realistic or not).

    For example, Maude may have had the first pre-Roe abortion on TV, Erica Caine (All My Children (AMC)) was the first character to have an abortion post-Roe. She did it because she a) didn't want a child and b)... that's pretty  much it.

    Of course, ABC has since wiped out that milestone with a (relatively) new storyline in which we find out that the foetus was transplanted into another woman's womb. That now full-grown child -- well, male adult -- is currently running around Pine Valley, causing havoc.

    I find this storyline to be one of the most loathsome, ever, although it doesn't quite top the soap-opera staple storyline: bad girl gets sexually assaulted and is suddenly reformed. To ABC's credit, however, they seem to be trying to make up for the abortion-that-wasn't storyine: on another ABC soap -- General Hospital -- the child of Luke and Laura recently had an abortion.

    ABC also has had several gay characters, though the stories have been handled anywhere from well, to really awfully (One Life to Live turned a psycho killer into a gay psycho killer for reasons that I never quite understood).

    ABC has also had more than a few characters who lived with (and died from) AIDS. Cindy, another character on AMC is fairly early example -- as of 1987 she had contracted AIDS from her drug-using husband. She died 2 years later, in 1989. The plotline included ignorant townspeople who tried to harass her into leaving town.

    GH currently features a character -- Robin Scorpio -- who is living with AIDS. Robin's recent romance storyline included discussions of safe sex, spermicidal jelly, and viral loads.

    Robin contracted the disease from another GH character, Stone, who had been a drug user in his youth. The Stone storyline ended in 1995 with his death. Meanwhile a huge controversy erupted among fans of the show over whether the GH writers were going to "infect" Robin with AIDS. Fan opinion was very much against it, in part because the character who played her had been introduced into the show at age 7 and the same actress played her continuosly. Infecting the character with AIDS was seen as a death sentence. GH went ahead, however, and Robin was infected (realism in a soap -- who knew?) but the character has been living with the disease now for more than 10 years. (The actress did leave the show for several years and rejoined the cast within the past year or so.)

    Soaps tend to deal with emotion rather than with reality. Or, rather, soaps take incidents that COULD occur in reality (a heart attack) and those that couldn't (a madman designs a weather machine to take over the world!) and then concentrates, not on plot, but on the emotional upheavals that surround such events. Emotion trumps plot and logic, so if it's wrenching to have a character plunge over a 500-foot waterfall on his wedding day, it's even more wrenching if he survives but has amnesia and wanders around for several months while his bride-to-be and all his nearest friends and relations believe him dead. And, well, how much more emotionally wrenching is it when the woman he spurned kidnaps him and convinces  him that she is actually the one he loves!

    So, expect soaps to take risks. They have a few advantages over prime-time shows:

    • They have more time to develop storylines (sometimes too much, as any long-time soap viewer can attest, as when you can tune in to the show twice, 3 months apart, and know exactly what's going on).
    • They have a rabidly devoted yet factionalized fanbase  which, IMO, makes boycotts  not quite as effective
    • They fly under the media's radar most of the time -- the scorn that his heaped on the genre means that the press rarely pays attention and therefore soaps can escape some of the pressures of the culture wars. Soap actors also don't get much national media attention outside of publications devoted to the genre.

    Basically, soaps can and sometimes do behave responsibly -- at least the first time or two they tackle a particular issue. But the more the subject matter becomes a stock part of the drama, the greater the likelihood that it will be seen as -- and used as -- just another method of ratcheting up character (and viewer) emotions to even greater heights. (For example, ABC has recurrent breast cancer-themed stories, complete with public service announcments (PSAs). But as time goes on, the treatment of the disease  has gotten progressively  more "soap-y." She's dead. No, she's alive!!!)

    If you haven't guessed by now, I do watch soaps although I'm currently in the middle of a 2-year or so hiatus from them. They regularly become so stupid that I am driven away, only to have my curiosity get the better of me and I get sucked back in (er, usually during a holiday weekend when I'm home and have some time to catch up. Why, yes, I did watch the remarriage of Luke and Laura. ::ahem::

  •  First in NORTH AMERICA perhaps (0+ / 0-)

    But not in the rest of the world.

    The British soap opera Coronation Street is a much more realistic, closer-to-real-life soap opera than any over-dramatic American piece attempting to operate in that category (Disclaimer: grew up with my mom watching CS every weekend, will sit down now to watch with her).

    And with regards to transgendered characters, they got there first. The show, which has been on the air continuously since December 1960, introduced Hayley in 1998, and she has been present ever since. When introduced, she was still pre-operative, but has since had the last surgery needed.

    Coronation Street has also included, among other touchy topics, teen pregnancy and teens with fluxing sexual leanings.

    -8.75, -5.79
    It's the end of the world as we know it (and I feel fine)

    by Kara Jade on Tue Nov 28, 2006 at 03:39:08 PM PST

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