A blog article by Bonniejean Alford (Educator, Activist, World Citizen)
When I was a little girl I would watch the soap operas that aired on ABC with my mother. All My Children, One Life to Live, and General Hospital became a part of my life. And for decades, they have been a part of American life. But now they have been cancelled, well two of the three have been cancelled.
You may be wondering why this fits in with this blog devoted to the social evolution of our society. Well simply, this is a major evolution of the entertainment industry. For my entire life, as well as the entire life of my mother and many other American and world citizens, the day time soap operas were a staple of American Entertainment. Yes, they were, and are, often over the top, eccentric, and at times a bit ridiculous. But they offered consistency and stability in an entertainment world that is constantly shifting and changing.
There is little left from one year to the next. Shows people love get cancelled without warning and shows that seem to have little quality survive decades. There seems to be no rhyme or reason to the decisions made by entertainment executives.
And the drivel they produce at alarming rates leaves much to be desired in the search for leisure time activities.
If you look to the past, classics were created that even today stand the test of time. Take for instance Gone with the Wind, the 1939 Academy Awards best picture. This film memorialized the struggles of the Civil War and one woman’s role within it. Even today it is a film that can be watched with reverence and remembrance of a time when going out to the movies was something special. Now, when I go, I am overwhelmed with the choices, most of which leave me with a feeling of “why did I bother?”.
Now, I don’t mean to put soap operas in the same category as a classic such as Gone with the Wind, but both are important stabilizing agents in the culture of American society. In a way, they are in the same category. Much like the mass production of non-classic films being produced in the film industry, the day time television slots are being given to more talk shows and reality television, both of which we have more than enough. The reason, cost and a lack of viewer interest.
I admit, like many Americans, I don’t watch the antics portrayed on the soap operas every day. But I know it has been there whenever I wished to watch, like a trusted friend is there when you wish to talk. And when I watch, I am taken back to those moments with my mom and my sisters when life wasn’t so bad in the midst of all the chaos. But now that is gone (or will be come September).
And we are losing so much more than a collection of outrageous and sometimes impossible plot lines. We are losing a part of history. We are losing something that for decades upon decades have provided Americans with joy, sadness, and a day time activity.
I am left wondering if the increase in dual partner working households and single parent homes is in part to blame for the lowering of viewership of the day time line up. As a feminist bent on having full equality in American Society I end with the knowledge that maybe, just maybe, the loss of this stabilizing agent in society is a fair price to pay on the road to true equality of the sexes.