Thursday, April 30, 2009

An open letter to Frank Cooper

Dear Frank,

You'd better sit down, Frank. I know you've had a great shock today. You have to admit, though, that there have been signs. Big signs. Billboards. Lesbians on the lawn wearing sandwich boards. The Spaulding jet writing "Otalia" in a trail of smoke. If you just try and think about it (I know that hurts...but thinking is like doing sit-ups: no pain, no gain), you'll realize that most platonic women friends don't do everything together, all the time. Or guiltily drop hands and stop touching just because someone walks into the room.  And, most times, if a woman really loves a man, and they've just had sex for the first time, she won't rush off to get back home to her "best friend." And, I know this may be surprising, but when a guy gets jilted at the alter, and he chases after his girl...most times her "best friend" won't feel compelled to stick around during that private discussion, let alone do all the talking.  And, just between you and me, Frank, my platonic friends and I never stand six inches away from one another, holding hands, staring intently into each others eyes, weeping. I save that for sort of thing for for, say, a woman I'm desperately in love with. I'm just saying. 

Now, you're not a bad guy, Frank. In fact, you're a pretty good guy. You're more than that. You're a little bit of a patsy, to be honest. Because, Frank, while I don't for a minute think Olivia and Natalia set out to hurt you, the fact is, you were the perfect fall guy. All you had to do was fall in love with Natalia (not too hard to do - she's easy on the eye, and sweet as pie) and not be too quick-witted. And you're good at that. The not-too-quick-witted part, I mean. The falling in love part was never all that convincing. If you're honest with yourself, I think you'll find that you weren't so much in love with Natalia as you were with the idea of not being the loneliest guy in town, anymore.  But, you know, Blake is finished being the grieving widow, and you guys used to knock boots back in the day. She looks more than eager to pay some attention to you, again. Make no mistake, Frank, it'll be pity sex, pure and simple. I mean, she was married to Ross Marler, for heaven's sake. That's a hard act to follow. But, as far as I can tell, she's 100% heterosexual. Good luck with that.

xo Snapper

P.S.: Oh, and stop making those junkyard dog eyes at Olivia. It's embarrassing. You and I both know that she could wipe the floor with you. 

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

So...I was saying

Yeah, I know. I started this thing last year, deleted most of what I'd written, and then just let it sit.

I've reconsidered. I have too much noise in my head, too much to say, and my loved one never signed on to hear me ramble for hours on end about stuff she doesn't give a damn about. Stuff like the awesomeness of Guiding Light's Otalia, or the hilarity of The Young and the Resteless' psycho chipmunk story (which is awesome in its own, special way.)

So, yeah...Otalia. Best, most touching, closest-to-real-life portrayal of same sex love I've so far. I don't mean best I've seen on daytime, or best I've seen on television. I mean best I've seen anywhere, outside of my own apartment.

Let me put this out there before I go on: I love soap opera. Love it. I see it as this beautiful, under-valued bit of Americana that has helped shape the world we live in. I remember reading an interview with the late, great Joel Crothers who said that, yes, acting on a soap often meant being involved in ridiculous, implausible plots, and delivering lines that were just cringe-worthy. He went on to say that, for every really crappy, dumb thing he'd had to do as a soap actor, there'd always been some really gorgeous, well-written, meaningful story to tell or bit of dialogue to deliver. He said that being part of something that was sometimes so damned good made the less-than-stellar parts of his job well worth it for an actor. He said that he knew of few actors who had been lucky enough to be involved in as much great drama as he'd been during a lifetime of acting on soaps. I loved that. The Otalia story line is one of those gorgeous, well-written, meaningful bits of soap opera that Crothers was talking about. It's not just entertaining. It's not just eye candy.

When it's good, soap opera mirrors real life, even as it magnifies it. When soap writers keep in mind the things that are important to people: family, relationships, history, faith, human struggle, etc, they can go a long way towards reaching millions of viewers with important stories. The friendship and blossoming love between GL's Natalia and Olivia is one of the most important stories I've encountered in over 35 years of soap opera viewing.

It's a rare thing to find anyone even trying to tell my story. Popular media is still overwhelmingly straight. Families on television and in film are still overwhelmingly traditional: married mom and dad + children. This is not a true mirror of the real world, only a partial one. The fandom that has developed for Otalia is about people such as myself: hungry for our own stories - stories about people like us. People whose life choices don't fit a cookie cutter mold, but are no less valid than the choices of people who lead more "traditional" lives or have more “traditional” families. We are hungry for stories that portray same-sex love as it most often is in real life. It is clumsy and awkward, sweet and touching, not always easy, sometimes disastrous. It is funny and tender. It is about mutual respect and affection. It is hard work. Sometimes, it’s just funny. Or stupid. Or annoying. And scary. It is just like any other type of romantic love.

My partner - a smart, beautiful woman who, sadly, does not share my love for soap opera- and I are not out to take over the world. We do not sit around at night figuring out ways to recruit your children or ruin the social fabric of this country. We're too busy watching Mad Men or folding laundry. Maybe for the first time in television history, Guiding Light has successfully captured this in the form of Otalia - a love story that revolves around friendship, humor, mutual respect, the healing power of human kindness, and the importance of family. This is why the support for this pairing is so staggering. Otalia tells a real story. Our story. It tells this story with kindness, dignity and respect. It tells this story without compromise. It is the piece of the mirror that has been missing for such a long time. It's important.