Right Behind You, I See the Millions
Once upon a time, the most scandalous things used to happen to Middle America on soap operas. I mean the most scandalous things like infidelity, rape and murder. Baby switching and getting trapped in mines happened weekly, like they were a big idea. And that may be our problem with my favorite soap All My Bianca.
This is Bianca, third child of reigning diva Miss Erica Kane and the only one who has known all her life who her parents were. A few years ago, the soap opera world went mad when Bianca came out as a lesbian. I thought, 'Delightful! It's past time we had beautiful damsels kissing without smearing their lipstick. Cosmetologists everywhere will dance in the streets!' Unfortunately, Bianca's love stories take place mostly off-camera (or - for most of the last year - off-continent), as American soap fans may not be ready for something as simple and natural as women in love.
This reticence did not stop the writers of All My Bianca from penning a transgender character in love with gentle Bianca, who this time came out swinging. One open-handed slap later, Bianca's just as irrational as every other character running from room to room without a single thought unmotivated by panic. Of course, I don't expect decent plot or character development on a soap, and I've stopped expecting anyone to think anything through without drawing the dumbest possible conclusion. A little over a year ago, the writers concocted a scenario where Bianca's baby was stolen by her best friend where the unspoken inference was that the best friend and her husband would be better for the baby than a single mother. I had a knot in my stomach for months but other soap fans hated this plotline with a surprising vehemence. Thus, I have been shocked this week to see outright mob violence on my soap.
This is actor Jeffrey Carlson, who plays Zarf/Zoe, the canvas on which the writers paint this study of a conflicted person with the wrong conflict in the wrong place and at the wrong time. Never in the decades I've watched soaps have I felt that squeeze in my chest, that bone-rattling fear of the mindless, angry mob. Characters I've enjoyed watching for years are making me utterly sick. No one thinks anything of grabbing Miss Zoe and literally manhandling her. No one mentions that a series of crimes has been perpetrated against this person for being a sexual suspect, not a murder suspect. No one even notices. No one questions the brutality and cruelty. There's one character who asks the mob to see Miss Zoe with their hearts, which makes me want to scream: Don't talk to a mob, princess: get on the horn with the fucking FBI.
The deeply disgusting thing about this is that in 2007 - two thousand goddamn seven - people still have their heads so far up their clutched sphincters that a transitioning person appears to represent some kind of threat to the thin-lipped hetero lifestyle. It doesn't. Nobody's marriage is a threat to anyone else's. Nobody's love story has to bother anyone else. And if people need to externalize internal identities, what is it to anyone else?
I brush up against some of this almost every day and I can't figure out why people can't just let it go. I'd like to stop being pissed when someone examines some aspect of Me, finds it unconventional and tries to correct it. I am not saying I encounter what others do, but I am saying hatred and prejudice and violence are everywhere, and we are utterly soaking in it. Which is nothing new. Which people blog about daily far better than I ever could. Which is making me so, so angry at All My Bianca I might have to stop watching it until the male characters quit beating Miss Zoe like an overstuffed pinata.
I miss Greenlee. She quoted Auntie Mame and spit out remarks that made me howl. She was bitchy and charming and had a fantastic athletic build unlike others on the soaps. I hated how the wardrobe department never put an entire outfit on her even in winter, but you can't have everything. Greenlee as a straight female character was more secure in her manhood than all the current characters with penises.
It'd be nice if that were going around.