Luke and Laura are the super couple that all other super couples on daytime (and sometimes nighttime) soap operas are compared to. The two of them saved the world more than once, acting like a pair of lovesick superheroes straight out of any Marvel or DC comic book. Because of them, an entire television genre was reimagined to be more than love triangles and plots within plots hatched by sinister villains out to get the girl they desired.
Oh, and [share ]did I mention Luke raped Laura on a disco dance floor in 1979[/share]? So how did a rapist become a hero?
For those unfamiliar with the term, “retcon” is short for “retroactive continuity,” or “erasing what was already shown by simply ignoring it or a part of it.” In this case, what was clearly a rape scene – see it on YouTube if you’d like though while it is not graphic, I’d still say #triggerwarning – was eventually referred to as a “seduction,” cause as we all know, that’s how that works.
So why erase the crime? Simple: fans actually liked the two of them together (kind of explains 50 Shades, eh?), and to keep those fans happy, the show decided to stop what might have been a worthy storyline.
See, in the beginning, Laura was shown going to rape counseling. Oh, to keep it as it was would’ve been AMAZING. An honest portrayal of what life is like post-sexual assault? How wonderful it would’ve been. But, because audiences resonated with the pair, the vicious act was renamed and the two battled the forces of evil (who were not Luke, go fig) and eventually got married.
Aww. How sour.
What’s worse, as said by Anthony Geary, the dude who portrayed the scumbag-turned-superman, is that “From that point on, we played [Luke’s] regret and his total devastation.
“That’s a story nobody wants to tell—that the rapist’s life is as devastated as the person he rapes. His great love and regret and guilt are what caught the audience so off guard.”
Really? Excuse me, I meant, fucking really!?
So, General Hospital, Laura, after being turned upside down and inside out and every piece of her torn to shreds because a drunk fuck decided no is only a suggestion suffered no more, no less than the drunk fuck who violated her?
Eat a bag of dicks. No, seriously. You suck so hard.
Now, this seduction was canon (that means official storyline) until 1998 when Lucky, their son who they had after consensual sex, ‘cause a rapist feels bad afterwards and will only lie with you in good, socially acceptable ways, discovers his parents’ sordid history and poof what was rape then seduction was again rape.
And, of course, Luke felt oh-so-bad over what he’d done and his life had been ruined but his love for Laura had changed him and blah, blah, fucking blech. And about that I, again, give the floor to Geary.
“Alan Pultz, who had directed the rape originally, used his original notes and directed me that day to recall all of that. I was able to finally put out what I think is Luke’s definitive statement: that it was rape, it was ugly, he’d probably never recover. I was grateful that the directors and the writers were interested in what Luke’s experience was and didn’t try to spin it for audience control.”
Okay, so maybe it might be interesting to understand the rapist’s experience. I mean, understanding what a disgusting creature feels might help stop it. But to make the audience, who seem to have deep-seated issues based on that 1979 push for love between rapist and victim, feel pity for the bastard is a step way too damn far.
Yes, the step is too damn far.
While a writer is free to do whatever they damn well please with their story, for fuck’s sake, keep it honest. How many survivors, after going to counseling, decide to marry the person who victimized them? Is this really the ideal way for a genre heavily geared toward women to treat rape so casually? And then, years later, switch it up again and try to make feels for the rapist?
Who the hell writes this crap? We all know soap operas are not known for their stellar storytelling, but anyone with half a damn brain would know maybe this ain’t such a good idea, boss. Maybe we should ignore the “rape me, Luke” cries from our disturbed audience and create a story that shows a victim can become a survivor.
Laura is not a survivor. Ever since that night on the dance floor, when Luke decided what he wanted was more important than what she wanted, she has been a victim. There are enough fools in this world trying to suppress those who’ve been sexually violated; can’t we see hope in our televisions? Is that too much to ask, too?
It is. When ratings are involved.
Now imagine, for a moment, that Laura had continued healing herself. Maybe she would’ve seen Luke thrown in jail. She’d have seen that as a small victory as she struggled to be intimate with Scotty, the boy she was seeing and waiting for the night she was attacked. She would’ve struggled to regain herself while facing down those who blamed her for what happened. It would have been Emmy-worthy to see Genie Francis bring to life an all-too-real struggle – to reclaim her dignity. She could have inspired countless victims to seek the help they needed. She could have shown that life continued, and could even improve, after such a violation. She could have been like Rosie the fucking Riveter for women suffering in their own personal hells.
Newp. Nada. Nevermind. Just make a few tweaks to the dialog and have ‘em make nice, love and babies. Yeah, that’s healthy. FAST FORWARD TWENTY YEARS. “Oh, my, gosh, dad, you raped mom!?” “Yes, son, I did. Now sit down and I’ll earn an acting award for the monolog I’m about to give.”
Yes, Luke, you are such a brave man. It is so difficult to come to terms with your rape – of your own damn wife – and you should be revered, er, um I mean, reviled.
What is it with fiction and reforming rapists? And, what’s more, if they can, should they then marry their victim? What is this, Biblical times? Did he pay her father fifty shekels and a couple of farm animals?
Crap. The Spencers are the closest thing to a Biblical marriage in the history of television. Not even the Duggars can make that claim and we know how Bible-loving they are.
It’s sad, really, that what began as a powerful story – Geary and Francis even met with a therapist before filming – of hope and recovery became just another way to get two characters together. It’s also sick. And disturbing. And a big ol’ slap in the face to people who have suffered through the trauma of rape. General Hospital didn’t care how horrible the very idea of this couple was when they bowed to fan pressure.
They just wanted more money. And by their actions, they raped Laura again.
What do YOU think? Please share your thoughts below.
Pictures courtesy of Unsplash and Pixabay.