This is a simple column by a complex
“Bianca sucks, let’s rape her!”
When I was raped in the summer of 1982 by a boy who assumed the high school gossips were right about my being a whore, Susan Lucci and Eden Reigel didn’t warn my family and friends on The View’s talk show the morning of, promos didn’t herald previews of my rape as if hawking it like a piece of costume jewelry at Shop the Soaps (Tragedy! Torture! Terrible acting! Yours for just five hours a week! Don’t miss the action, the adventure, the Emmy moments of a closed set!), and bystanders didn’t rave about my rape using the five stars and two thumbs-up method on message boards everywhere.
When OLTL’s Marty Saybrooke was gang-raped by Todd Manning and his frat buddies, GH’s Laura Webber date-raped by Luke Spencer, AMC’s Erica Kane sexually molested by her father’s movie star colleague, etc. etc., before spoilers became all the rage, I never saw it coming. Just like real life. Just like millions and millions of rape survivors.
But this is soaps, circa 2003, after all. And a free radical world where everything, up to and including human emotions, human thoughts, human subconscious, must be predicted, replayed, manipulated and sold to the lowest bidder on ebay—however fiction, however entertainment, however inconsequential.
I’m surprised ABC Daytime isn’t selling the dirty, soiled, raped clothes of Bianca along with Erica’s gaudy engagement ring. You too can feel the glamour of being violated in your own home!
Kit Fisher received the same treatment several years ago on AMC in the 1990s. Fans barely managed a yawn, tapping feet impatiently. In fact, bloated with self-important savvy and cynicism, they did attorneys for the defense proud by blaming the victim. Because Kit was boring, the actress couldn’t act, didn’t belong with precious perfect Edmund (nobody did, except Maria), TPTB decided to rape her, to win – instead of earn – viewers’ interest, compassion. Redemption by rape, the oldest trick in the book, next to a whodunit in lieu of a character-driven melodrama.
Now that Bianca’s been raped by Michael in a two-day extravaganza, the week of July 7, fans are sitting around crying “Brava!” and praising the character’s brilliance, declaring this storyline a touching inspiration that truly depicts the horrors, messy and ugly, of a rape. The actors involved looking solemn, responsible, honored and committed to bringing life to a PSA.
A PSA. That’s all this is to me.
I watched, third person removed, duly noting the dark set, the quiet ambiance, the attempt at moving me to tears. I felt invisible hands maneuvering me in the genuflect position. Feel this, think that, see how ABC Daytime as owned by Disney beloved the world over takes social issues affecting its primarily female audience seriously. Buy it.
Too much noting, not enough experiencing.
But what else do you expect from me after one too many infomercials centered around the next social issue of the week?
What’s the point of introducing breast cancer, AIDS, poverty, racism, heart disease, baby death, rape in soap stories when, time after time, it winds up being nothing more than cheap theatrics? Sacrificing character integrity, history and storytelling aesthetics within months to a year, a forgotten footnote onto a new gimmick, the latest youth demo fad.
Reaction to AIDS in the ‘80s resulted in AIDS-related stories that were quickly dispensed with in the sexually carefree late 90s and millennium. For all the dire and dour lectures masquerading as brilliant performances, hardly any couple in daytime practices safe sex or even mentions it in conversation. Stone died of AIDS and Robin has HIV on GH, but the people that survived them still screw around with abandon. Maxie underwent heart transplant surgery, after nearly dying as a child, yet she’s able to frolic with Ecstasy and naked Internet sex with nary a reference, save for a recent verbal fart having little to do with the plot device at hand. Let’s not even get into the utter stupidity of TPTB ignoring a major rape factor at the hands of Ric’s manufactured one-night stand with Carly.
Obviously ABC soaps don’t take these social issues seriously. They’re used solely to titillate in any way to brainwash you to keep tuning in. And they’re not above using controversy to do it.
Call me jaded, but I could not enjoy – for want of a more appropriate term – Bianca’s rape. I felt nothing, no kinship, no recurring memory, no flinch, as I usually do when art imitates life for nothing other than, a natural evolution of people yearning to capture every essence of life, even the horrific.
Before the rape, I could not stand Bianca. The character is extremely self-righteously self-involved, holier-than-thou, the usual good girl pretense everybody in town falls for. Portrayer Eden Reigel actually sees Bianca as kind, forgiving, understanding, a heroine in her own right. I see a petulant, spoiled brat who treats her mother like shit and her half-sister like shit on shit, who hardly thinks twice about ratting out her friends, or lecturing them about morality, who put Lena through the 12 labors of Hercules despite the fact that Lena had blackmail on her side, who, even with Kendall’s joyous news about a breakthrough with Erica, could not spare one drop of kindness (a kindness she made pains to afford David, Lena, anybody else).
Once again, as with Kit Fisher, TPTB have seen fit to rape a character in order to redeem her, to gather forces, to lure critics to her side. Plus, she’s Erica’s lesbian daughter, the beloved of all Pine Valley – several social issues in one glorious “brilliant” package. And she sings Broadway, too!
Her reaction as a rape victim will predictably follow a formula I don’t care enough about the character to bother with. Skittish, paranoid, snapping at people, pushing people away, doing the whole brooding, trembling shtick to a T, and fans will go Ooh! and Aah! and be verily impressed, smelling Emmy.
IOW, Bianca on a normal non-raped day.
Normally I shy away from watching rape of any kind. The experience proves too viscerally painful, and I’m haunted for weeks afterward. I’d planned to watch AMC’s version, reluctantly, after much ballyhoo to the press, preparing to avert my eyes, shut down my heart and soul. But it turns out, I needn’t have worried.
Daytime being daytime – where an explicit rape (or, in OLTL’s recent case, a memory of Victor molesting a young Victoria) is deemed too explicit, as confirmed by several protesting fans who refused to watch something that “offensive” to their fragile senses – Bianca’s rape played out quite sterile, orchestrated with every ballet move disguised as predator upon victim, fear against shock, the full effect merely suggested, with fabulously ominous lighting.
However, spared the shrieks of agony, the rhythmic thud of silent intrusion, the blood everywhere.
Nobody cleaned my sheets. Nobody told me beforehand. Nobody rehearsed, blocked and shot for your viewing pleasure.
Nobody will care in a year’s time.
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