Introduction to Popular Culture Studies

Reactions to 3/18-3/22

Posted by laura47 on March 6, 2008

[Note: This was written up (on paper!) after watching the 3/18-3/22 episodes, but various problems kept me from posting it till now. Sorry for the outdatedness!]

I think “As The World Turns” has succeeded in drawing us into its narrative. The first two weeks were mostly about figuring out who everyone is and what is going on. In the third week, we have fewer questions for Sam. We are starting to know these characters, and care about them. We have seen plots begin, end, and take drastic turns in this time. I think the most telling reaction from this audience is when we have all gasped or cried out in unison at some plot reveal or character moment. We may still be somewhat detached, looking at this analytically and academically, but they’ve got us to care, which I see as a success on their part. I believe the two biggest reactions were to Craig’s sudden and dramatic return, and to Katie’s poorly timed phone call during Jack’s bizarre Cowboy Jack scene.

And now, because I do care about these characters, some reactions to this week from an emotional level, not an academic one.

Luke: Is Luke being too forgiving? Is he being unrealistically forgiving? Unfortunately I haven’t seen what happened with him and the Colonel, just read about it, but is it reasonable for him to be so over this? Luke seems in general to be a very kind-hearted and level-headed person, but I don’t know. Perhaps because Colonel Maher is locked up, he is less scary to Luke? Luke was only terrorized by the Colonel briefly, Noah for his whole life. I think Luke honestly just wants to so whatever is best for Noah to help him escape from the shadow of his father and what he’s done to his life, and I love Luke for that! He’s certainly *my* heartthrob on ATWT.

Iraqi girl: Woohoo! There are not nearly enough characters on TV who were raised outside of Europe/America. I can only think of one other Iraqi character on American TV (the wonderful Sayid on “Lost”), and I am excited. A Middle-Eastern character, a presumably Muslim woman in a headdress, on a soap? This has the potential to be very interesting, to delve into the relationship between the US and Iraqi, American attitudes about Iraqis, the reaction of an Iraqi girl to American life and to a homosexual character, and all sorts of consequences of the Iraqi war. I am reminded of the similarly sudden appearance of the child Tom fathered in Vietnam during the war. I don’t know all the details of how that played out, does anyone know how much controversy they addresses with that?

Nuke: I like how they are showing bits of the realities of being gay, how everytime you meet someone new, someone who hasn’t been vetted, you have to wonder how they will react when you hold your lover’s hand. Outside of very select places, you can’t make the assumption that you can just hold hands without this potentially causing trouble, even putting you in danger. (http://www.projectkooky.com/erika/comics/hands/hands1.htm)

Holden/Lily: I find the way they are handling their relationship to be very real. They’ve been through a lot (Holden and Lily are always going through a lot…) and it seems natural for Lily to be a bit hesitant about jumping back into bed with Holden. Holden and Lily aren’t my favorite people so far, but this is nicely played.

Craig: Oh, so deliciously evil! I would perhaps like him more if he attempted less murder, I prefer scheming over murder. Like I said above, the crowd roared when he appeared on screen. I love that they faked us out like that! “Oh, yes, Craig’s gone off on a wild goose chase, he’ll be gone for ages,” and boom, there he is to cause just a bit more mayhem before he actually departs for unknown parts. I find it hard to believe he’s really saying goodbye to Oakdale forever, he still has so much connection here, even if he won’t admit it. I am very much buying into the theory that it’s not about Meg, it’s always about Paul versus Craig, fighting over whatever happens to be convenient, and I like that.

Vienna: I am a bit confused about Vienna. I find her sympathetic and amusing, at least for now. I want to know the details of what is actually up with her and Bonnie. If she actually was a high paid escort, then I am totally on her side here. Sleeping with Grey would probably really not mean much of anything to her, if she’s been paid before, and she loves that diner. Why isn’t Henry finding a way to save the diner as an alternative? Does Henry know her history? I worry that I am too sympathetic to her mercenary side as a reaction to what I see as an underlying moral message. I expect things will play out in a way that makes us think that sleeping with Grey would be the wrong decision. Am I just being contrarian by siding with the more sexually liberal viewpoint? How do I actually feel? (To be fair, I am in general far more flexible and liberal in my worldview than the moral message I see in soaps.)

Brad: So dumb, and yet so endearing. So dumb.

Paul/Meg: *sigh* Jack and Carly possibly coming back together through Parker’s troubles, Holden and Lily coming back together through their own brush with murder charges… people shouldn’t be allowed to break up around here, if they do disaster is likely to strike near them to force them back together through strife. Are murder charges and other huge disasters an aphrodisiac in Oakdale?

Sophie/Chris: I think they are cute together! I have sympathy for Sophie, especially in light of Gwen’s own babynapping history. (It doesn’t excuse it, but it makes me hate Gwen for condemning Sophie, which affects how I feel about Sophie.) Get Sophie in some serious therapy, possibly on anti-depressants, and make Chris not be her doctor, and I am all for them as a couple. I like the little bit with Sophie speaking in Spanish, cause I am all about making TV less WASPy, and I loved Chris’s reaction to it. (I never get tired of the “ha, i can understand what you are saying about me in another language!” trick, especially when it is done cutely)

Casey & Adam: I love Margo, but I just don’t care about these boys yet.

Emily & Chris: Oh, I need to go look up more backstory here, I am missing things.

Hallie’s Adoption Plot: The first plot where I am genuinely conflicted on what I think the outcome should be. I used to follow adoption controversies on shows like “20/20”, and I always found them very heart-wrenching. This one is even worse than most.

Jack: Worthless. Not impressed. I like the Brad/Katie plot, Brad is dumb but I really like him. It feels real, not too epic. Nothing is exploding, no one is dying, it’s just two people and their emotions. Catfights and drinking and normal angst!

The Synder farm: This much be an epicly big farm. It’s ridiculous!

Next Post: The next week of episodes!


One Response to “Reactions to 3/18-3/22”

  1. samford said

    Hey Laura,

    I’m sure that ATWT‘s team and PGP are interested in this immersion process, and it’s what makes the class interesting, because from an introspective level–as this does here–you are going about the immersion process in a self-reflective way, to try and understand some of what the appeal from soaps are in an internalized manner rather than simply a detached one. As you point out, the class creates a constructed experience in many ways. I’d venture to say most of you would have been unlikely to have had the patience or interest in tackling a text like this if you didn’t have a course that forced you to do so throughout the semester, but I am interested in the ways you do feel yourself start to operate on the emotional level, or conversely when the class does not feel themselves acting in this way. I hope the learning experience, coupled with the academic work we are reading about soap opera text, operates in this manner.

    I’m especially interested in seeing how you feel about this process as we start reading work more explicitly about soaps fans, taking the response-driven texts of Allen and Modleski through this provisional era of Fiske and Brown–who are interested quite explicitly in how communities of soap opera viewers operate–and into the fan studies work, starting with Lee Harrington and Denise Bielby, two fabulous scholars who continue to write on soaps today. (That book was published in 1995.)

    Now, some specific reactions:

    Luke: “Is he being unrealistically forgiving?” I ask myself this often as well. He does seem to have an unbelievable amount of patience and love sometimes…”He’s certainly *my* heartthrob on ATWT.” I understand that completely. He may be the single most likable character on the show, and he just seems fairly realistic in how he reacts to many situations…We get to see Luke often expressing his angst, frustration, impatience, etc., honestly and very healthily in coherent, calm conversation.

    Iraqi girl and Lien Hughes: Ameera (believe that’s the spelling) seems fascinating to me so far because she is both expressing all the complications of life in Iraq while also being shown to be quite annoying. I think the interaction between she and Luke has the potential to lead to a nuanced story, where she isn’t just displayed as a saint but rather a nuanced character, with a difficult past but yet plenty of foibles. We still no so little of her…As for Lien, Margo was quite accepting of her, and I think this storyline was handled without major controversy, yet it did a.) create a great way to get an Asian character integrated in a key family and b.) play on a crucial American narrative. I personally knew families this happened to. Lien has been back, as of a few years ago, and I’d really like to see them bring both Lien and Adam Hughes Munson back to the campus, especially as it seems there is a true renewed focus on Tom and Margo as a couple, and especially Margo in particular.

    “Holden and Lily aren’t my favorite people so far, but this is nicely played.” Considering all the discussion around them now, I thought this was well put. I’ve traditionally felt this way as well. They are a key couple to the text, well acted, and sometimes very well written. Still, not my favorites. 🙂

    Craig: “Oh, so deliciously evil! I would perhaps like him more if he attempted less murder, I prefer scheming over murder.” I’m in agreement here. And Scott Bryce is so much better at scheming, too! He’s at his best when he is much more conflicted human with a knack for doing the wrong thing and yet can still make mustache-twirling tactics still seem somehow reasonable, at least in his weird sense of justifying his actions.

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