Standing Up For Soaps!

David Arwood

David Arwood

 

Every soap fans feels battered by the many cancellations and loss of our favorite shows and beloved stars, but there is one thing soap fans should not feel and that is defeated! We have the power to bring our soaps back, but it will require thinking outside the box and taking our case to the political and economic leaders who can make a difference. The most successful movements have been those that combined passion with practicality and the movement to bring back the soaps is on the cusp of that magical partnership. Now it’s up to us!

So what can soap fans do to breathe life into the genre and bring back our soaps? The answer lies both within and without. First, we must get organized and put pressure on those decision makers who can make a difference. These decision makers sit in the executive offices of broadcast networks as well as in governmental offices. We must make our voices heard in every possible way to make sure decision makers know that we love our soaps and want them back. We must also let them know that if we get them back we will support them by watching and remaining as loyal as we ever have. We must be willing to up our game and withhold our support from networks that dismiss soap operas as a genre. As they say, money talks and in the world of television ratings equals money. We are the most loyal fans on Earth and we love to watch television in the daytime. Without us, there are no ratings and so there is no money. That message above all else needs to be presented forcefully and in all activities, we must be smart, direct and effective!

They say the squeaky wheel gets the grease so let’s squeak! This blog is called “Let’s Talk About Soaps” so let’s talk about soaps and let’s talk about them a lot! Let’s tell everyone who matters and can make a difference about the magic of soaps. Let’s tell them that soaps aren’t just some television genre where shows come and go. Let’s tell them that soaps are part of American history! In fact, soaps are part of US social, economic and political history. The first soap went on the air, not on television, but on radio in the 1930’s when Americans suffering through the Depression needed the escape soaps offered to making it through the tough times. Soaps have been offering this therapeutic device ever since and the soaps that remain on the air still do.

Soaps also moved America in new directions. How many viewers were moved to speak about adultery, abuse and alcoholism because they saw their soap families confront these issues? How many women were empowered to pursue a career or fight for their rights because of what they saw on the soaps? How many people came to accept the once thought of unacceptable like mixed-race love or gay rights because the soaps made it acceptable? Soap Operas have changed America and should not be discarded so easily. When we lose a soap we lose a piece of America!

Soaps are also an integral part of the economic history of America. They are not best known by their industry moniker “Daytime Dramas.” They are best known as “Soap Operas” and that is because Procter & Gamble created the genre to sell Ivory Soap! It was a historic achievement for a major American company to partner with the entertainment industry to create a sales vehicle. With a captive audience of mostly women, Procter & Gamble had its own platform to advertise all of their products and it worked beyond the company’s wildest dreams, bringing them fame and riches. When the soaps no longer offered that platform because of VCR’s, cable TV options, etc. the company turned its back on the soaps and left fans high and dry. Do you feel like buying Ivory Soap or Tide after what Procter & Gamble did to “Another World,” “Guiding Light” and “As the World Turns?” I don’t!

Soaps don’t belong in some forgotten history book, they belong in the Smithsonian! Soaps don’t belong in a list of cancelled TV shows, they belong on the air so we fans can enjoy them

That first Procter & Gamble soap hit the airwaves in the 1930’s and the studio was in New York City. Today there are no soaps in New York City and that must change. We need to take the message to city leaders that they are missing out on billions in revenue from this lost production. A recent study showed the cost of lost production. When movies and television leave an area like New York or Los Angeles they take with them tens of thousands of jobs and billions in economic revenue. Bringing the soaps back to NYC could result in up to 40,000 new jobs and $4 billion in revenue. DO you think Mayor De Blasio and city leaders would want another $4 billion pumped into the NYC economy? I do!

It’s not just actors, writers, director, producers and camera operators who come to work, its caterers, set designers, costumers and all the small businesses that open to service these people. We must tell the story of soaps to the city leaders. We must write them, email them, attend city meetings and ask them about bringing soap production back to the city. Do they know what they are missing and that there is a loyal fan base waiting for the soaps to return to NYC? Probably not! Let’s tell them!

We can’t stop at New York City Hall though. We must take the movement to Albany and to the steps of the Governor’s Mansion and the state legislature. Governor Cuomo speaks frequently about boosting business in New York and the state has a special movie and television commission that works every day to lure new production from California and away from other states. The state legislature has even passed tax breaks and other incentives to bring production to the state. This is all well and good, but as they say charity begins at home. Why focus all efforts on getting new production or taking it from other states? Why not spend some time simply reinvigorating production that is ready to go now in New York City. The infrastructure and talent remain in the city. Let’s lobby the Governor and the legislature to give incentives and tax breaks to the networks that already have headquarters in NYC and who can get the soaps back on the air.

We have to keep up the economic pressure on the companies that own the current soaps and the rights to the cancelled soaps. The boycott against ABC has been effective and we need to examine the pressure we can bring to bear on Procter & Gamble and Sony. At the same time we must support the networks and companies that still support soaps and soap fans. I know this is hard, but we have to watch the soaps that remain even if we don’t have a history with them. I know many of you are loyal to Erica Kane but she is not with us at the moment, and she would be the first to do whatever it takes to get what she wants! Do you know what is going to make ABC rethink its position and bring back our beloved soaps? When they see CBS and NBC thrive because the ratings for “Days of Our Lives,” “Young & the Restless” and “Bold & the Beautiful” go up they will jump back into soaps big time. They will strengthen their commitment to “General Hospital” and they will bring back “All My Children” and “One Live to Live.” Nothing motivates businesses like competition and when the competition is making money from soaps, ABC will be back in the soap business!

 

Finally, we have to be prepared to not rest on success. When the soaps come back will we watch and support them? We must! If we don’t they will not stay on the air and this time they will never come back. Watcher every soap you can find and be vocal in your support for soaps and soap fans. Don’t take them for granted as in the past and don’t get mesmerized by the latest fad like the “Jerry Springer Show” or the OJ trial, which drew viewers away from soaps and helped get them cancelled.

 

Are we as soap fans willing to stand up for soaps? I say yes!

Hell Hath No Furry Like Soap Star Scorned

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September 2013 marked two years since ABC cancelled the much beloved “All My Children” and took soap icon Susan Lucci and her alter ego Erica Kane away from the daily lives of soap fans. When ABC made this move they cited declining ratings and expensive production costs and they scheduled talk shows to replace these iconic soaps arguing that the cost to produce such shows would be far less than the cost to produce the soaps. What ABC didn’t count on was the fans of “All My Children” and sister show “One Life to Live” rising up to say enough and turning their considerable ire towards ABC and its parent company Disney. Fans even threatened to turn on another beloved daytime icon, Oprah Winfrey, when she announced that she would not carry the two cancelled soaps on her OWN network.

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