TV Tropes, Violence, and the Online World

“I like the character because everything he does is for his (many illegitimate) children.”  This is basically the stance that the character’s fans take.  Anything this character does is excused by this one (supposed) character trait.

His physical and psychological abuse of women?  “They deserved it, the heifers.”

You can probably guess how I feel about that answer.  You will probably also recognize it as something people actually still say, in real life, about real situations, about real women.

The actor himself doesn’t make any strong statements about his character, ever.  What he does is parrot what the “pro-Sonny” fans say.  Usually something about Sonny’s love for his kids.

But, to be fair, I have never seen an interview with the actor that asked any hard questions.  When asked what he thought about fans stating that Sonny never pays for his crimes, all the actor would say was something to the effect that there were plenty of fans who didn’t see it that way.  It wouldn’t bother me so much if he was like that across the board in terms of his character’s impact, but he’s not.

He likes to talk about how his bipolar illness was written into a storyline, and how that helped so many people.  So I think it’s kind of crappy for him to not even acknowledge the negative aspects of his character, and how it reinforces harmful thinking and behavior.

I know it’s the writers who create the acts/dialogue for the actor.  But actors, especially long-term ones in soap operas, do have input into storylines and such.  Tony Geary, the “Luke” half of the wildly popular “Luke and Laura” supercouple (also on General Hospital – and yes, that was also disgusting), recently returned to the show under the condition he approve his storyline.  Otherwise, he was going to walk.

The writers caved.  Geary is starring in his own little storyline now.  So I am pretty sure this other actor can intervene in his own storyline, if he wants to.  Just as he did to include his portrayal of bipolar disorder.

At the very minimum he could denounce his character’s lifestyle and the behavior that goes with it.  Plenty of actors over time have done this, especially when some fan goes overboard and does something really awful or stupid.  I really don’t know why he doesn’t do that, unless he’s ok with it for some reason.  In other words, he buys the fans’ – and the writers’ – bs.

There is an actor named Roger Howarth, who played a rapist on a soap, and found that he was beseiged by women shouting, “Rape me!” when he was in public.  That actor went public with it and stated how horrified he was at that behavior.  When the writers tried to pair him with his rape victim, and make them a romantic couple, he quit.   I applaud him for that.

And it didn’t ruin his career.  As a matter of fact, currently he is on General Hospital playing a crazy artist, and also plays a reporter on the tv series, “The Flash”.

In terms of fiction, it is much better to play a villain AS a villain, and not some poor misunderstood guy “with a heart”.   Because, after all, it IS fiction.  And when an actor starts buying his own character’s bs, I think maybe it’s time to kill off the character.

Continuing on with the fan chatter: The adopted son is “being disrespectful” and “deserves to be slapped” because he still won’t forgive this character for killing his bio-dad (the alcoholic).  It’s been um what?  A month or two.

Because “you should always respect your father, no matter what.”  Apparently if you don’t, you ought to be hit in the face.

This haunts me because I have heard this so many times during my time as a therapist.  People driven to suicide because they cannot forgive a relative for something horrible he/she has done, but badgered so much by other family members to “get over it” that they didn’t see any other way out.  They believed something was wrong with them because they were angry with their abuser.  And their family reinforced that belief.

Hours spent holding someone’s hand, telling her (it was usually a female) that, no, she doesn’t have to forgive her father/mother/whoever for abusing her mentally/physically/sexually just because the person is related to her.  If she wants to, fair enough – but forgiveness, I believe, is best for the person harmed, and not for the person who caused the harm.

Forgive if it sets you free.  Don’t forgive in order to let someone off the hook for their horrendous, destructive behavior that sent you spiralling off into the depression that landed you in a psych ward on suicide watch.

But what can that person do, reasonably?  Their whole family, and seemingly everyone they know, believe that, no matter what, you are loyal to your family.  Retaliate only in reaction to….

…a disrespectful look (or sometimes just looking, period), body language that irritates you (whatever form that takes), disrespectful words, swearing, threats of violence, and of course “he/she threw the first punch”.  Or maybe sometimes because you are in a bad mood and the other person should read your mind and act accordingly (ie, however you want them to act).

And ONLY if it’s not your elder.  (It’s ok to beat the crap out of your child, your spouse/partner, your sibling, or even a total stranger)  How is someone supposed to swim against that tide of messed-up thinking?

The answer is, they don’t.  They continue on because it’s too hard not to.  They band together and reinforce their angry, destructive feelings and actions.   They drink, they use drugs, they pass the violence down another generation.  They attack other people, online and in real life.

They sometimes end up in prison, or rehab, or psych hospitals.  But it’s not their fault, the other person made them do it.  They had no choice.  And it’s nearly impossible to convince them otherwise.

Side note: I want to be really clear on this…the people I tried to help with anger problems came from all walks of life and all areas of the mid-south.  They were from all religions except pagan ones.  Pagans were universally the targets of violence, not the perpetrators.   Other than that, the culture of violence expressed itself across many diverse populations – all classes, all races, both genders, rural and urban.

(Do not make the mistake of thinking I am saying that domestic violence is a crime that men and women commit equally, because I most definitely am not – it isn’t true.  Most victims are women, most perpetrators are men.  Look up the Dept. of Justice and FBI stats if you like.  I saw violent women on the psych wards because a lot of violent people end up in psych wards.)

But, underneath it, they all have a heart of gold, right?  They have some good in them, certainly, right?

Yes, when they were babies I am sure they were cute, adorable little ones.  They got raised in a messed-up world, for whatever reason.

So what?  Many people were raised in an abusive environment.  I was, too.  If that taught me anything, it taught me to empathize with others, especially powerless beings like animals, children, and um pretty much anyone who is victimized.  It never occurred to me to act in a way that hurt people – because I knew what that felt like.

As a child, you see your parent’s “heart of gold”, even as they burn you with an iron, lock you in a closet, humiliate you in front of others, etc.   But if you don’t grow up and get over that way of thinking, and see your parent for who she/he really is, that’s a tragic mistake.

This is a mistake many battered women make (and I should know).  “But he can be so nice!”  “But he says he loves me!!”  “But he goes to church!”  “But I just know he’s good, he just needs love/understanding/a job/more money/me to shut the hell up.”

That is an often fatal mistake in thinking.  It is the kind of thinking that can dull your sense of danger, keep you from leaving, and get you killed.

Soap operas have no obligation to do anything but entertain.  And a lot of us would really appreciate it if the actors and producers would remember that and focus on fiction.  It is harmful – particularly when an actor endorses it – to keep this “evil person with a heart of gold” trope going.  It reinforces the worst and most wrongheaded thinking that is prevalent in American society.

That thinking eventually leads to some very damaging behavior, psychologically and physically.  TV shows do not cause violence, but they can and do reinforce it.  I will never be convinced that somehow, magically, people are not influenced by media when they are influenced by their ‘real-life’ experiences – the act of watching these things is, after all, an experience.  It gets processed just like every other thing we see/hear.

And when someone cannot tell the difference between real-life and TV shows, whatever violence they commit is easily justified in their heads.  It’s infinitely worse if they were not taught right from wrong, or were taught that “right and “wrong” are relative concepts (nothing is always right, nothing is always wrong).  Or, the worst thing of all – they know right from wrong, but they don’t care.

Forgive the cliche, but it’s like throwing gasoline on a fire.

And don’t even get me started on “reality TV”, another feeding source for violence in America.

Violence as humor.  Violence as entertainment.  Violence…as a way of life.

No thanks.

Today’s weirdness comes from the LiveScience website.  As if you weren’t paranoid enough, it’s an article about high-tech spy inventions.  I suggest you skip #2 if you’re an animal lover – I so wish I could un-read that.  The best/creepiest one is #5, about the store mannequins who can see you.

“6 Incredible Spy Technologies that are Real” (LiveScience website, 1/2/2015).

I read some books this past week, and watched some movies, too, but none of them were good enough to recommend, so here is a bonus weirdness:

“Mars Rover Photo Shows ‘Human Shadow’, Or Maybe It Doesn’t” (Huffington Post website, 1/27/2015).

Be good, be kind…and watch your back, it could be the NSA, aliens, or your Samsung TV.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

    Like

    Reply

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