Editor’s Note: The following is an excerpt from a project I did in completion of my Master’s degree in rhetoric and composition at Colorado State University in 2015. For that project I researched soaps and online activism and their juncture in the Save Our Soaps movement. In the section this excerpt is taken from, I argue against some faulty judgments leveled against soap operas and the soap medium. See if you agree! As always, please comment, discuss, and share!
Refuting Common Criticisms of Soaps IV: Soaps Are Not Soft-Core Pornography
People often inaccurately and bizarrely accuse soaps of being soft-core pornography. First, individual soaps vary in how often and for how long they show love scenes, so a blanket statement about soaps and sex is wrong off the bat. Second, soaps are not gratuitous in their inclusion of love scenes. They may go on a little long at timees, sure, but they are always a part of a story/characters’ lives. And they are more an expression of two characters’ love for each other, rather than two random people going at it in a bathroom at a club. The term “making love” is one that is truly the apt term in this case, as euphemistic as it may be in others.
When One Life To Live became the first show on television to have a regular gay character whose portrayer had a multi-year contract at the show, also, it would have been offensive and wrong not to show him engaged in love scenes, for doing so was part of the work the inclusion of a gay character accomplished—exposing people to gay sexuality and love. Soap characters need love lives, because they represent us, we flesh and blood people, and we have love lives.
I hope our culture can move past childish, Puritanical accusations of “soaps are pornography,” and accept that sex will be part of a show from time to time, given that those it reflects have sex from time to time! Also, those who offer prudish outcries about the supposed prevalence of sex on soaps should simply know that soaps are rated, like all television shows are now, based on even more measures than films are, and they can find these ratings in any format soaps are shown, perhaps aside from bootleg airings, which soap creators have no control over. Soaps make it easy for the viewer to discern a show or episode’s appropriateness for certain audiences, such as children.
By Akbi Khan
Edited by Akbi Khan