Thursday, February 08, 2018

Switch Hitting Soaps

What is it with certain newspapers and their writers' lesbian fantasies involving soap characters?  Only the other day I saw an online headline for a well known right wing tabloid speculating (enthusiastically) that Eastenders' Sharon Mitchell and Mel Owen were headed for a 'steamy lesbian affair'.  Quite apart from the fact that such a liaison doesn't bear thinking about (and, believe me, I've tried thinking about it but ended up horrified), where does this sort of journalistic crap come from?  I can only assume that it is fueled by the peculiar fantasies of some middle aged man (you can guarantee that the author is male) which involve middle aged blonde women getting it on. (Not that there's anything wrong with middle aged women, blonde or otherwise, but they don't figure in most middle aged men's fantasies, which instead involve women of an age group who would probably call them 'Grandad'). 

My biggest problem with this 'headline', though, is the fact that neither of the characters named in it are, or ever have been, lesbians.  Quite the opposite, actually, if you think back over the number of men they've both had.  Then again, I suppose it could be argued that, in Sharon's case, liaisons with both Mitchell brothers and, in Mel's case, marriages to Ian Beale and Steve Owen, would be enough to turn either of them.  But that's another problem I have with both the media and soap opera writers, is their idea that sexuality is completely fluid, with people turning gay (or straight) at the drop of a hat.  Or, in truth, in the name of plot convenience.  I mean, just look at Lofty in Holby City, who has suddenly turned gay - when he was in Casualty he was definitely straight.  But, in Holby, his arrival coincided with a need to provide Dom (who has always been gay) with a sympathetic new love interest.  What all of this suggests to me is that, despite all the smug pride they have at embracing 'diversity' by including gay characters in the first place, the makers of these soaps still don't really understand the fact that homosexuality isn't a 'lifestyle choice'.  It's not something people do on a whim. 

Things, it seems, haven't really changed since the days of Goldfinger in the mid sixties, when a Lesbian could be 'turned' after being given a god seeing to by someone as rampantly masculine as Sean Connery.  The media really doesn't help, with its constant stories of faux lesbian celebrities and the like.  Interestingly, their speculations always seem to involve female characters suddenly turning into lesbians (and having 'steamy affairs').  You don't ever see them speculating whether butch Phil MItchell in Eastenders is suddenly going to get the hots for arch enemy Max Branning and end their feud with a 'steamy' assignation in the Arches, now do you?  (Although that scenario really doesn't bear thinking about, either).

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