By Marlena De Lacroix
I’ve never lost sleep over a soap opera before. But when I saw Michael buying a gun on General Hospital, the thought of what most likely will come next so disgusted me I couldn’t calm down. Now that Michael — at approximately age 12 — is packing heat, either he or his little brother Morgan is going to get shot, or one of them will shoot an adult. Someone could even die.
General Hospital is lower than dirt. I want to go on record saying that, even though we don’t know yet exactly who will shoot whom, and what the atrocity masquerading as a storyline is going to be.
This is February, sweeps month, when soaps will do anything to get ratings. So Jill, Brian, Mr. “On Strike” Guza, don’t insult me by trying to pass this story off as a cautionary tale, or attach a public service announcement to the story saying children and guns don’t mix. We know what you really want. Bang! Bang!
There’s a good reason that you’ve never seen a child do the shooting or get shot on daytime before. Soaps are still a women’s medium, and many women who watch soaps are mothers. Mothers can’t bear to see a child shot. Neither can fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins or grandparents.
For sixty years, daytime soaps have stayed away from stories in which children are seriously endangered. Years ago an aspiring soap writer friend of mine pitched a story to Another World about a child being shot in a convenience story robbery. He did it to delineate the animosity between the child’s divorced parents. As soon as the NBC vice president saw it, she screamed, “We don’t do children in peril stories!”
If GH has a child doing the shooting this month, or has anyone, especially a child, being wounded, then the soap medium has taken another significant step toward its own self-destruction. Over the last ten years, GH has sought to change soaps by including the mob and excessive violence in the their stories. With this latest bit of impending violence (whatever it may be), GH proves once again that it totally misunderstands the medium it’s in. We are women. We love children. We are soap opera watchers. We want the warmth of love and our family — not the bloodletting of our kids.