On Friday, Emmy-winning daytime actress, Crystal Chappell was visibly restrained in Springfield, IL. Luckily, the event was caught on tape. Let’s take a look.
What you just witnessed was a professional lead straining against the invisible suppression of network standards and practices. The actress put up a noticeably internal struggle, but then succumbed to the pressure. The video is all the evidence required.
Once again I am here at my desk questioning the courage of a network to move forward in a natural, yes, natural, progression of a same-sex storyline. I give CBS Daytime and the other networks of daytime television deserved credit for being the only genre with an extended commitment to LGBT issues, but to produce a coupling that is a veneer of their potential, is merely symbolism over substance.
It is no secret that lesbians will watch anything that remotely represents our circumstances. Just look at the Netflix history or current queue of a Sapphic sista, and you will find every low budget, single camera, and late-night Logo channel offering out there. To find a love story with a happy ending where the gay girl isn’t violated, murdered, left for a man, or burned is an accomplishment, and when we do find the odd Imagine You and Me, Saving Face, or I Can’t Think Straight, we will watch it again, and again, and again.
The OTALIA storyline began with such enormous potential. It wasn’t the first of its kind, so it was able to fly below the conservative radar. It was “label-less”, so it required no public classification by the powers that be. It was the first mature storyline that involved an undeniable daytime diva voluntarily offering her heart to another woman and having it accepted with a loving confidence. OTALIA is not a coming of age storyline where sexuality is questioned; OTALIA is a love story where the prejudices of society and religion are questioned.
Perhaps the network never expected such a worldwide sisterhood alliance to this pairing, but this is the Internet age, and the Twitter era. Real time information is at our fingertips. Though the elusive Neilson families may not tune into Guiding Light, there is at least one online family of five thousand plus international members watching and waiting for their story personified on screen. Their loyalty and their commitment deserve better than a sterile version of fruition.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking for gratuitous afternoon titillation, I can get that from those DVDs I keep in the back of my lingerie drawer. What I am demanding is that the OTALIA storyline be unleashed from these archaic network standards of a time past. Yesterday’s video evidence of Crystal Chappell’s craft caught in restraints is not the first time I have witnessed the censorship, but the last time my tolerance will allow.
As I have said publicly before, the network billed this storyline as label-less, but it is not lifeless. Gay people touch, gay people hug for longer than what appears to be a celebratory chest bump, and gay people in loving relationships kiss each other, if not in public, then definitely in the privacy of their own homes. Shocking, I know.
CBS and the other powers of controlling deprivation, out of some misplaced responsibility to the public interest, have created an atmosphere where the kiss, or the no-kiss, has become the story. Affection between the two characters should have occurred long ago with little fanfare, just as with those mundane family moments of baking cookies and getting the kid ready for school.
Look at the video again. Crystal is a method actor. She engenders in herself the thoughts and emotions of the character, Olivia, in an effort to create a lifelike performance, but something is circumventing the immersion. I can only surmise that it is the network succumbing to corporate pressure of one kind or another.
CBS, where is your courage? You canceled the show, what is there to lose except more respect? Cease the accommodation of the most conservative members of your audience. Only by continuing to push the envelope with respect to same-sex family portrayals can the medium advance. After all, if our community is as dirty as some would like to believe, wouldn’t a little soap be the answer?