TV Tropes, Violence, and the Online World

I want to start by stating the obvious.

General Hospital in Port Charles is NOT real life.   The Facebook General Hospital page is NOT real life.  Oh, it has real people expressing real opinions, alright, but most of them (myself included):

DO NOT know the other fans.  DO NOT know the producers.  DO NOT know the actors.  DO NOT think the characters are real people.

This last one is important, because there is a large and very vocal minority on Facebook (and on forums) who do not seem to understand that General Hospital is a fictional show with fictional people.

Why is this important?  Well it’s not, in the grand scheme of things.  But I have noticed something and it bothers me a great deal – not only do some fans think the characters are real, but they condone things the characters do.

Like physical violence and murder, emotional/psychological abuse, and running organized crime syndicates.  Along with the usual soap opera staples like blackmail, kidnapping, and adultery.

I have got to wonder why it is that these folks defend these characters, particularly one named Sonny Corinthos.

Sonny Corinthos is a mob boss.  His character has been on the soap opera for a little over 20 years (no, I have not watched all that time, having better things to do).  In that time, the character has:

~ murdered many people,

~ threatened to kill numerous others (including his current love interest),

~ blackmailed people into doing various awful things,

~ owned a stripclub that was a front for prostitution,

~ held a pregnant character against her will and theatened to kill her once she gave birth,

~ drugged another female character and raped her,

~ seemed to get a kick out of emotionally torturing people, mostly the women in his life.

He is the head of a crime syndicate that “imports coffee from Colombia” (which confuses the fans because it is never stated what illegal things he actually does import – oh, except the character claims he would NEVER deal drugs, so it can’t be that).

He is basically a completely immoral, cowardly, violent, and heinous character.

His recent escapades?

Shooting and killing his adopted son’s biological father (because he mistakenly thought the man had killed one of his many girlfriends). for which he went to prison (for about 2 weeks)…

Escaping from prison (in a hail of gunfire, of course), after finding out about a plot to bomb a party on a houseboat (which his adopted son was on)…

Running over to said houseboat where he ran into his adopted son (who had found the bomb and was carrying it outside with the intent to toss it overboard), grabbing the bomb and jumping into the water with it…

It exploded, and of course they dragged his body out, where his current love interest performed CPR on him (the cops having walked off and left him, and who could blame them really?) and revived him.

Sonny gets taken to General Hospital, and when he is being wheeled back out to be transferred back to prison, the governor of the state (New York, I guess…kudos to the real governor for not letting himself be cast in that role) walks up and pardons him.

For escaping from prison and jumping into the bay with a bomb.  A bomb that probably wouldn’t have been there if he wasn’t a mobster with equally evil enemies.

So, the character gets away with murder… again.

The fans?  Wow I have never seen such weirdness on Facebook, ever.  When Sonny was in the water, many fans were crying (really!  they wrote, “I’m crying”) and generally freaking out. Despite the many reassurances some sane fans were making (the actor had just re-signed, his character wasn’t going anywhere), there was a mood of hysteria on the page.

When he was revived, some were STILL crying.  Others made comments like, “My man Sonny!  Way to go!”   When pardoned, many fans expressed disgust at the writers for, once again, making sure this character didn’t pay for what he did (my thoughts, exactly).

Then it really got ugly.

Pages and pages of fans name-calling, writing long paragraphs explaining why this character was justified in murdering another character (the character he murdered was an alcoholic, I guess that’s a capital offense in soap opera crazyland), and referring to the character as “my Sonny”, or “my Dimples” (the actor has dimples, apparently this is a mitigating factor when committing crimes).

These, for the most part, are young people (by “young”, I mean 20-35 or thereabouts).  The reasons behind the justification for this character’s latest actions were mainly of the “you have to kill people who kill someone you love” variety, though it was usually written in language I will not repeat on this blog.

And they were serious.

That’s what bothers me.  They are serious in that they really, truly believe that.  I think about all the violence in this country that is a result of this twisted way of thinking.  “He did x, so I am gonna kill him.”

I spent a fair amount of time in psych hospitals running anger management class once a week.  Most of the hour was wasted in the neverending quest to convince people of 2 things:

1.  You do not have to react to negative things with violence.

2.  Your actions are under your control, no one else’s.

It was a losing proposition.  Patients would look at me as if I had lost my mind when I told them that yes, it is possible to go through your entire life without throwing a punch at anyone, or getting into any kind of physical altercation.

They didn’t believe it.

It was always, “He/she MADE me angry”, “he/she LOOKED at me, I knew what he/she was thinking”, and “everyone acts like this when _________ happens.”

No amount of examples could shake these ideas.  I would, for example, pick someone out and ask, “What would you do if someone walked by you on the street and called you a bitch?”

Of course, the answer would be some sort of violent reaction (hitting, shoving, etc).

I would then say, “Ok well if that happened to me, I would just wonder what their problem was, and walk on.  Then I would forget it.  So, tell me, what’s the difference?”

Crickets chirp.

Continuing on (I knew it was hopeless but I had to see it through), I would say, “The common thing here is what the person said.  But there were two different reactions to what was said.  The difference is NOT what was said, but how the other person looked at it.”


Sighing…”No one can MAKE you do anything.  You CHOOSE to respond violently, or not.”

“You’re wrong.  You’re lying.  You would hit them.  If you didn’t, no one would respect you.”

That was nearly always the response from the room.

Anger management does NOT work, precisely because the people who use violence to deal with things do not believe that they are responsible for it.

And so it is with the soap opera character and his legions of fans.  He wasn’t responsible for shooting the other character because it was his right to get revenge.  Even though he was wrong about who killed his girlfriend, he still wasn’t responsible – the character who led him to believe that the alcoholic killed his girlfriend was.

In other words, SHE made him do it, by lying to him.

In fact, this whole trope called “mobster with a heart of gold” is so prevalent in this show that nothing will ever shake it.  Ok, fair enough.  But it seems to be something people believe IN REAL LIFE.  And that’s scary and disgusting.


2 thoughts on “TV Tropes, Violence, and the Online World

  1. Victoria Post author

    Ha! I forgot about that…and they used to have these long, drawn-out storylines as well. I recall someone at the time asking me if I followed the ‘plot’ and I had no idea what they were talking about. Doesn’t surprise me that they squashed the two genres together at one point.

    They can believe it’s real all they want, but to do that AND to condone the violence that goes with it….pisses me off and scares me a bit.



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