CAUTION: My girl, Carol, speaks her mind in a strong, brassy and vibrant fashion. If you are offended by straight talking, adult oriented language (sometimes, there's a "very" in there), please be aware that you may well find it here. Carol shoots from the hip and tells it like it is, pulling no punches and taking no prisoners. That's why I love her & why I hired her. If it's not your bag, let's part still friends and salute our differences in tastes (I'm sort of a strong strawberry flavor...) ~*~Katrina~*~
(disjointed) Snap Judgments
Since I have strong opinions about all three ABC Daytime soaps lately – from the sensitive souls of actors (retch) to the soulless sale of spoilers, to the soulful immediacy of Travis, the next Jonathan Jackson – might as well pull a Carolyn Hinsey and spread myself around.
BOO HOO, SHUT THE FUCK UP
Actors are sensitive souls. They have to be. If successful, they get to tap into the deepest of universal human emotions for our viewing pleasure; if in soaps, they get to do it on a near-daily basis. To pull this off seamlessly, effortlessly, they must always open themselves up to experiences, situations and the resulting emotions and thoughts that come along with the roller-coaster dramatics of living.
So, it comes as no surprise that the bulk of them are chickenshits when it comes to surfing the ‘Net’s various message forums. The mainstream stars are ever-loathe to mingle with their bread-and-butter. You think their shamed step-sisters in daytime are any different?
Almost every soap actor has admitted either to a fear of stepping virtual foot amongst the rabble, who essentially pays their bills and keeps them in the limelight, or avoiding the techno-jargon complexities of a computer system altogether (I think Ingo can barely type, much less sort through the IM versus PM). Steve Burton’s (Jason, GH) tried, but backed out after one too many misunderstandings about his hitman character hit the roof. His best buddy Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH) claims never to have indulged much in the first place. Most of these actors will claim to be so busy with their chi-chi, exotic, glamorous real lives, learning lines, rehearsing scenes, doing public appearances, planning the next big moonlighting project in an indie nobody will see, tra la la, that they hardly have time to waste sitting around mouse-clicking with (losers) people having more time to spare.
Recently, Kelly Monaco (Sam, GH; ex-Livvie, PC) came out as a closet board lurker – along with Terri Ivens (Simone), who now keeps to herself and her occasional foray into a private group devoted positively to her AMC character – in an “ABC Soaps in Depth’s” May 25th interview, before the harsh criticisms of viewers who couldn’t stand her got in the way of any potential online enjoyment:
I’ve distanced myself from that, because I was getting really bothered by it. It really affected me. It can impair what I do as an actor and make me want to portray some things differently, because it’s ‘right.’
[Side note: I could add something really nasty to the above, but I’ll hold my tongue. Let’s just say, based on knowledge I’d been given, I doubt if a positive response would’ve made any dent.]
More evidence that actors in general can’t handle the heat, however, came in the form of a NATAS ruling just one month before its Daytime Emmy show airs on May 21, designed to effectively shut the press out of the entire nomination submission and judging process, ostensibly to avoid hurting the fragile egos of the actors submitting their nomination reels for judging. Citing evidence in the past of actors feeling picked on for picking the wrong types of scenes (Susan Lucci/Erica, AMC, often received the brunt of such criticism for routinely going the overly emotive route instead of a show of range, until her Emmy), or for neglecting to follow-through on the proper submission package (the tape Michelle Stafford/Phyllis, Y&R, sent was missing the crucial finale, thus disqualifying her from the race altogether last year), NATAS brought back its time-honored tradition of censorship befitting an often-shunned and maligned clique-ish industry known for ... huge egos and short sensitivity spans.
I say, join the club. We’ve all had to endure our slings and arrows. Believe it or not, the fans themselves are a favorite, frequent target of slander and libel, over a fictional soap habit, no less. And soap fan columnists, who do much of their bitching, griping and unconditional praising for free, endure even worse.
Celebrity public figures must shoulder the added responsibility of a natural outpouring of love, hate and indifference, in a variety of writing and speaking styles. If they can’t take it, or if they can’t pay attention to the fine-tuned, anal-retentive sensitivities of their overly handled “people” supposedly looking out for their best interests, tough shit, cry themselves all the way to the bank and the soundstage, and shut the fuck up about it.
Besides, the sick, fucked-up thing is, even when we fans kiss these soap actors’ asses and ream their anal canals for good measure, fairly coming all over ourselves in abject adoration and marvel, it doesn’t matter a damn, they don’t give a shit, their people will find some shit to make a big stink about, and the rest of the cacophony of star-fuckers will drown out whatever protests fans like us had in mind.
Why do you think I jumped ship over here?
SPOILERS AREN’T STORIES
Let’s be real here. TV shows and theatre movies are merely condensed, image-enhanced versions of stories, storytelling for the lazy and unimaginative.
Either way, they’re supposed to inform, enlighten, inspire and most of all, surprise, like the better, sexier parts of real life. Nobody is supposed to know what’s going to happen anyway, on- or off-screen, so why start now?
Because spoilers mean high ratings. And high ratings mean more corporate sponsors. And more corporate sponsors mean more money to produce more of this stuff (and pad the linings of “Friends”-ian popularity). Somewhere along the line, most of the movers and shakers from Coast to Coast, Hollywood to Manhattan, have lost the storytelling details for the bottom line. They’re so hampered with a near-immobilizing fear of losing their shirts without that one surefire hit, that they’ve taken to piggybacking upon the successes of others, recreating magic with copycats, and, unfortunately, spilling the finales before they’ve had a chance to air.
A common occurrence in soaps, the practice has spilled over to the mainstream. Anybody with an Internet connection can figure out the surprise endings to anything, from reality-TV’s-latest fare, to the teen screams on the big screen, as well as some backstage dish sure to blow the lid off special effects and the ever-enabled lazy handicapped imagination.
People do it, because it sells to other people dying to know at all costs, even to the pure, unadulterated enjoyment of an honest-to-goodness story hot off the presses. Joss Whedon, who produced “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel,” put this appalling habit into the best perspective in a “New York Times” article called, “The End of the Surprise Ending” (May 9, 2004):
...the death of television surprise is the end of what he calls a "holy emotion." Surprise, he argues, "makes you humble. It makes you small in the world, and takes you out of your own perspective. It shows you that you're wrong, the world is bigger and more complicated than you'd imagined." He continued, "The more we dilute that with insider knowledge, with previews that show too much, with spoilers, with making-of specials, the more we're robbing ourselves of something we essentially need."
It’s like going to a psychic (or worse, thinking you possess psychic abilities yourself) on a high to anticipate the next great thing, just waiting around for her predictions to come true, instead of living. Now, nobody wants to know when they’re gonna die or how (there are sites out there that can do that for you), or even have higher powers orchestrate their love lives. But to feel god-like, overseeing all, showing off the bravado of such all-knowing, god-like power... it’s a heady temptation. The problem is, a little is never enough, and sooner or later, knowing turns to blowing it. You’ll be rich tomorrow, but then you’ll die of cancer, lingering at death’s door in the worst way, before you die in two years. Sorry folks, you can’t pick and choose.
The dumbest result of this spoiler habit is when you read nothing on the boards but speculations and rantings about plot turns that haven’t even happened yet, and may never. Entire board wars have occurred over the disastrous effects of Sam’s abortion and suicide to the hallowed love affair of Sonny and Carly on GH ... over a rumored spoiler not destined to be until way later this summer, if that. If you look carefully, you’ll notice nobody getting to know each other or wanting to as a result of an on-screen moment that may have touched them personally, either, the way we used to do before soaps became another casualty of selling spoilers to the highest bidder, instead of about the heart and soul of our reflections.
Any savvy soap columnist wannabe will hook onto this spoiler fetish and ride the wave into the next hottest word-of-mouth mention. It’s common knowledge that if you wanna be noticed in the soap community, you have to talk spoilers, backstage dish and rumors, in that order. The uglier, the better, exaggerate the details a bit, make up shit a lot, to generate enough controversial buzz as to become a household name. I won’t name names, but wink, wink.
As a toot to my own horn, I’m proud to say that most of my readers keep up my habit because they love my writing style, I make them laugh and think and choke with surprise at the next outlandish, uncensored shit coming out of my head, and I delve into the features of the actors’ lives as well. As a whole, my readers are extremely intelligent, working class aficionados of the written word first, the image translation second, and know the difference between fiction, habit and the real world. Other columnists (outside Eye on Soaps of course, this site is a pleasure into and of itself, which defies generalities) would do well to cover more than just the spoiler whores in all of us.
Before too long, the only remnant of TV and movie viewing will be a bunch of spoiler-struck crackheads standing around waiting for their next fix, just reading synopses, recaps and spoilers on a Wall Street-like teletype in an auditorium... before they wait in line to give their flavor-of-the-week a blow job/muff dive for $5 a pop.
ABC DAYTIME UPDATES...WITH THE SAME OLD SHIT, FEW EXCEPTIONS
So, like I wrote earlier, I’ve had to watch all three of ABC Daytime’s soaps like a dutiful little columnist. I have, with a whole lotta FFing to save time (thank you, Nu Jess!) and a whole lotta WTFawking to get me through the hard times (fuck you, Nu Em!, drop dead, Krystal!).
My reaction, as follows:
· It’s been a long time, but I finally found myself the next Jonathan Jackson (ex-Lucky, GH) over in Llanview of all places. Connor Paolo came on board like gangbusters as Travis last month, the Internet buddy who fancies himself the love of Starr’s life, and is currently forcing himself on her parents as a little helper in the kidnapping caper. From his first scene with Starr on location in the streets of Manhattan, to him jumping on a guy’s back in the train station to help beat away some of Todd’s attackers (geez, that scene was outer limits), I’ve been captivated by Paolo’s natural ease in front of the camera and that special young boy in the big woods feel capitalized on by Jackson. The story involving Travis and Starr has been rushed, granted, but who cares? These two bring out the best and the unexpected – Starr vulnerable and soft?! – in each other. Bonus: I suspect Travis’s run-in with River to be on purpose; the two have to be biological brothers. Check out the newest message board devoted to Starr and Travis, btw.
· Another new character I immediately gravitated to, albeit as a recast, is Melissa Gallo’s Adriana. The only bad thing about her is figuring out how to say her name (how’s it that Antonio and Carlotta, two Spanish people from the same family, pronounce it differently?), oh and, put the flip back out in her lustrous dark hair. She may be the first goody-two-shoes with female genitalia that I haven’t gotten a toothache from. Maybe it’s ‘cause she doesn’t subconsciously flaunt her moral instincts, but often shies embarrassedly away from them, constantly doubting herself and her equally interesting quirks (the health kick, the sincere joy she derives from her new-found family, the very-present responses to those around her, instead of phoning it in). She almost makes River look ... okay, now that’s going too far.
· Rex continues to get my goat, fairly commanding every scene, every nuance, every move, quirk, or tick he displays whether in the foreground or background, to always add meaning to his character outside the script. I’m usually crocheting an afghan when I watch soaps, but I can’t keep my eyes from riveting on the screen whenever John-Paul Lavoisier (one of the best actors ever, raved co-star Catherine Hickland/Lindsay) happens by, because he never fails to do something riveting to reward me, whether it’s a small gesture he almost seems to purposely downplay as if hiding it, or a large, gregarious move designed to subterfuge his hidden agenda. The actor is the most intelligent, in chess player terms, I’ve ever come across. I see a promising mainstream career in his future. Or, the very least, a Daytime Emmy next year, give him a story to win it with.
· The only story I’m really paying attention to, though, is the one growing around Viki’s failing heart. The smart insertion of Dorian, who’s been her life-long rival with loads of history to ricochet off, has kept me there, hoping for more. The rest, Michael’s bizarre game of hard to get (he jams his tongue down FemmeBot Kathryn’s throat at the train station, then nary a reference between them?), Kelly’s mental collapse over her own selfish co-dependent nonsense that sounds better with Addie, dusting off R.J.’s jealousy over Antonio with Evangeline whenever TPTB have nothing else to do, the now-you-see-them, now-you-don’t love story with Bo, Nora, Daniel and Eve that never gets shown except in third-person-narratives, from a child no less, the complete medical fallacy of Michael staying in a hospital when he could be recuperating in his own bed excuse for a “Rear Window” remix... all of this can go fuck itself. Bring me Viki’s heart for the drama, and Craze as sitcom relief, throw out the rest.
· I see head writer Megan McTavish at work again. Demonize former multi-dimensional Kendall to prop up one-note bitch Greenlee as a potential romantic heroine for Ryan’s affection. Trouble is, I now hate Kendall along with always having hated Greenlee. The Kendall who’s always in everybody’s faces is not the Kendall I’ve come to know and love, the Kendall who’s had to earn love and respect every painstaking, self-deprecating step along the way. No, that Kendall would no sooner browbeat Greenlee when she was down than she would absolutely condemn her mother Erica for running away.
· Will someone please take the blonde wig and the showgirl costume away from Susan Lucci, and get her Erica back in Pine Valley where she belongs, to deal with her problems firsthand? I’ve been through the painful Luke Spencer-ish masquerades in the past, and they’ve always made her look like a pathetic, aging diva, trying to campaign for younger, hipper, a tolerant woman of the people. IOW, a white woman’s lame-assed version of Whitney Houston.
· Coming from trailer trash myself (Louisville, KY, circa 1972, thank you), I can sort of get behind Krystal’s fiercely maternal take-no-prisoners, in-your-face approach. But with Tad in the picture, his no-lip, no-nonsense obnoxious shit don’t stink self, and Bobbie Eakes pushing her character’s twang and suspicious nature too far, until that’s all I see, this fledgling “love story” fails on so many levels. It’s two assholes being assholes for the sake of their asshole kids, when at least Simone could just as easily redeem the violent, anti-David cocksucker Tad back into a semblance of human form, the kind who can laugh at himself and others, instead of stand there with a stick up his tight ass, daring all comers to a duel with his witless dour notes. Besides, any true mother would never hide the death of a baby from any other mother. It would take a helluva lot more than a firm talk with God for Krystal to talk her way out of this mess.
Wow, six pages and counting. Amazing what happens when I just ramble away...
But enough from me.
I guess that you are dropping all of these names and tiny bits of plotline du jour [Give Me a Happy Ending, 5/4/04], but I do not recognize any of it. And, since I'm using a public computer, I cannot get most attachments for fear of viral meltdown.
I am guessing that you are pushing for a bit more sweetness and light in the soaps, allowing us to find more escape from the rigors of real life. Actually, I'm assuming that this is what the writers are trying to do, allowing the viewers to find some escape, but through drama and a misplaced sense of "boy, am I glad I'm not that guy that Sonny is about to blow away!"
It's curious: Why do we want to escape the realities and miseries of life by watching more of it. Or perhaps, our lives are not really that bad. You must admit, after the ten minutes of worry about the price of bananas and the cable bill, life becomes pretty mundane and banal very quickly.
Most folks I know flatline all the live-long day, especially at work, then go home to watch the "drama" of *The Apprentice* or "American Idol," all the while complaining that Keisha's a bitch, or Simon's a jerk.
Or they get on The Web, the big "W" like it's the all-knowing source of all the Universal reality, only to visit and revisit some un-updated porn site, or check out the generally pretty static bedroom cam from the girls’ dorm at North Mississippi State, hoping to get a shot of some co-ed pulling at the butt floss of her bunched-up thong while she finishes brushing her teeth.
Hey, now you know why I don't have cable, or DSL.
May 4, 2004
April 27, 2004
April 20, 2004 - GH
April 14, 2004 - OLTL