Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Final Soap Frontier

Lulu had an abortion (Monday, September 18th). For those of you who don't watch soap operas and don't feel like clicking the link, we're talking about "General Hospital" here, but that doesn't really matter.

For years, soap operas have been telling their viewers that abortions are legal, and they're safe, and they're a valid choice for a woman to make, if it makes more sense than bringing a baby into this world.

I'll tell you all right now up front: I'd be afraid to have go through with a pregnancy. Yes, afraid. Afraid that I'd do a terrible job raising a child, afraid that I'd go insane if I carried a child to term and then gave it up, afraid of what being adopted might do to the kid's psyche, and not least of all, afraid of what it would do to my rapidly aging, already messed-up body. I try to be responsible by never being irresponsible, if you get my drift. There are options in this world, and I use them.

So I cannot personally censure abortion for moral, or even religious reasons, what with my being Jewish. There are specific Jewish teachings about when a fetus becomes a person, and they conveniently tie in with what my own mind came up with before I went out and found them. I've written about this a lot, if you want to check.

Soap operas have been notoriously chicken about pissing off their pro-life viewers. I cannot imagine any other reason, when the characters on these shows routinely lie, cheat, steal, and kill all for our entertainment. And most of the time, especially if they're a lead character, they find some way to get away with it, and we're all supposed to forget that Miranda suffocated her ex-husband to death 3 years later when she's going to marry Desmond, the handsome pediatrician who 6 years ago was both blind and paralyzed, but is walking and fully-sighted today. Soap opera fans suspend their disbelief and their conceptions of right and wrong every day just so they can lose themselves in the story - the story which never, ever gets boring.

I've chatted about this topic with several friends, and none of them thought that Lulu would actually go through with it. Last minute change of heart, right there on the table, one said. Another suggested a miscarriage would take the decision out of everyone's hands. They were positive that a soap opera wouldn't "go there" and actually terminate a pregnancy, because it would generate lots and lots of hate mail and boycotts. Well, I've found a couple of discussion boards where there is indeed dissenting opinion, but I haven't heard the raging outcry that they were expecting. In fact, I see a lot more comments that this is a good issue to bring up, and that choice is important, and even that showing the repercussions of choice is important. Not that soap operas really do that.

So what does this all mean, what's my point? My point is that one of the cheesiest mainstream outlets for schlock watched by millions of people, every day tested a boundary. Someone actually went an had an abortion on a show viewed by roughly 5.2 million people, and no one mentioned it on the news. Perhaps the lack of outcry is because there's a lack of outrage; perhaps people are coming to their senses.

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