You Have Changed Me

"You have changed me."

Those desperately uttered words have perfectly and succinctly summed up the sick, twisted and ultimately riveting story line of Todd and Marty on One Life to Live.

I use the word "riveting" in its purest sense: not to imply something that is entertaining or enjoyable for entertainment’s sake alone, but rather as a thing that keeps our attention for better or worse, against whatever other instincts that might ask us to look away. In other words, this story line of compounded lies and grand delusion has kept many of us as glued to the screen as a car accident might induce a chronic case of rubbernecking or a nasty lover’s quarrel in a supermarket might cause us to turn and watch. Yes, this is the story we thought "they" would never tell, but there is a question lurking just beneath the surface reactions for those fans titillated by the prospect of the loathsomely nicknamed "Tarty" and those other fans filled with disgust and anger:

Exactly whose story has been told?

The first and rather obvious answer is that this story has been Todd’s, not Marty’s. I certainly understand the idea that this tale should have also been hers and yet may take that turn, but I would rebut that Marty’s story has more or less been successfully told. Through the years (and one recast), Marty has gone from promiscuous party girl to rape victim to rape survivor to empowered woman. Marty took her violation, her anger, her rage, and her devastation and turned her life into one full of meaning and purpose as a psychiatrist and mother to Cole. No matter what plot lines were thrown in her way, Marty eventually emerged from the horrific night of the gang rape as someone capable of trust and love years later. In short, Marty was forever changed by the rape, but she found a way to not be solely defined by it.

Todd is a different story. No matter what Todd has done since he was first convicted of raping Marty, his world has not changed. Oh yes, he foud love with Tea, married Blair a thousand times, had a great relationship with Starr, loves Jack, cares for little Bree, has been protective and even compassionate toward his family and one or two people who might have passed as his friends. Most importantly, Todd has sought forgiveness from Marty and tried to set things right, eventually reaching an understanding of sorts with her. However, forgiveness does not always erase a debt, a memory or pain.

At the end of the day, Todd has always been Todd the Rapist. It always comes back to that definition, doesn’t it? Not even being raped by Margaret changed that equation. It is the destructive self-loathing of being Todd the Rapist that has defined Todd Manning since he was the ringleader in Marty’s gang rape and the many psychological and even physical crimes he has committed mainly against women before Marty and ever since. Todd has known this all along. Todd has wanted to "fix" it. Todd has wanted to change, but has never been able to bring himself to completely do so, backsliding time and time again into the abyss of his self-loathing and anger, lashing out at the world for hurting him in ways real and imagined. If the focal point of Todd’s self-loathing has been the night he raped Marty, there was only one person could truly "fix" Todd: Marty.

This is why this story has always made sense to me as a psychological thriller, despite its horrific implications. A man who has done great, irredeemable wrong sees and takes advantage of an opportunity for the ultimate "do over" with the one person he has hurt above all others. In many respects it is every "what if" conversation we’ve ever had, every "apology" we’ve ever wish we could have given, every love story we wish we’d been able to reinvent despite our own mistakes magnified a thousand times. In Todd’s world, amnesia did not happen to Marty. Marty’s amnesia happened for Todd. This is where some critics have missed the point in their insistence that if Todd wanted to be the hero, he would have revealed an alive Marty to her friends and loved ones, thereby reaping the glory as a result. Todd never wanted be a hero to everyone else; he only wanted to be the hero in Marty’s eyes.

Marty’s amnesia provided Todd with an excuse to use her as a tabula rasa by rewriting the past, in every case a role reversal of all that had gone before. In Todd’s rewritten script, he cast Marty as the smart but flirtatious ingenue instead of the promiscuous and rowdy wild child in college. He cast himself as the lovestruck nerd with a huge crush who couldn’t get her attention instead of the sullen and angry frat guy who’d orchestrated her vicious sexual assault. Todd further rewrote himself as a misunderstood loner who was failed by his wife and child, not the sociopath who had driven nearly everyone in his life away. And, in the most symbolic role reversal of all, Marty was not held against her will in his home as he nurtured her back to health as opposed to her helpless subjugation and degradation that he was responsible for at the frat house many years ago.

21 Responses

  1. Profile photo of SteelMagnolia80

    A well-reasoned, thoughtful and ultimately refreshing take on this story. I’ve long been leery of putting out there my similar view, as the passionate hand-wringing of the “rapemance” crowd tends to have a chilling effect on discussion.

    I agree with you: this story is not “love in the afternoon,” but soaps ceased to be so easily boiled down. The story was never presented to the audience as a romance; except, as you said, by the Network, which used its promos to appeal to the audience’s baser instincts. The show itself did no such thing. The story was always about Todd’s delusion, his neverending quest for redemption and his ceaseless failure to achieve it. He cannot redeem himself until he stops taking shortcuts. But Todd is always seduced by the easy way out. That is who Todd has always been.

    I do take issue with your characterization of St. John’s acting. I think he’s dropped the ball with this story, has made some nonsensical choices and I regret that Roger Howarth isn’t playing the role. Howarth had his bad days, but he always rose to the occasion with material as piercing as that which has been given the character of Todd in recent episodes.

    Dollars to donuts that OLTL sees a marked increase in the ratings this week and next because it has done what any show should do – tell a compelling story.

    Lastly – would someone please fire Nelson Branco and give you his job? Keep up the good work.

  2. Profile photo of ThomHunt

    I love your essay on the Todd/Marty story! Very eloquent, thoughtful, insightful and well-written. I was impressed as well that you reserved judgment.
    Having said that, there is one thing in all the discourse I have read on the net over the last months regarding this story that I have yet to see addressed. In all the furor, not once have I seen mentioned that this is fiction, folks. It IS a riveting story. Emphasis on STORY. I know people tend to get more involved with their soaps than other forms of entertainment. They take the characters and situations almost as seriously as they do people and events in their own lives. But I think when people start screaming for boycotts and cancellations and such over a work of fiction, they have taken their poersonal investments to far. OF COURSE it is ridiculous that a rape victim would fall for their rapist. As ridiculous as, say, a lost underground city, a trip to 1968, the old west, or heaven in a flying saucer. But in the world of soaps, ANYTHING can happen, and does. It is the nature of the genre. I find it odd all the people crying blasphemy over this particular story yet no one protests, say, the murder mystery who-dunnits that are a soap staple as well. Oftentimes, the guilty person at the end of these storylines is a major player that the producers can’t have carted off to jail never to be seen again as would happen in real life because then favorie actor/character X would be off canvas! So usually some “out” is concocted by the writers to “save” the guilty murderer in these types of stories. Dorian Lord, anyone? Where is the outcry there, folks? Is not murder considered a “worse” crime than rape? Why aren’t people screaming for the head of Dorian Lord on a stake the way they are incensed over the Todd/Marty story? The bottom line is that soaps are first and foremost entertainment; they are NOT a reflection of real life, nor are they to be some sort of public service moral compass. In the end, EVERYONE has a right to their opinion. If you are disgusted by the Todd/Marty story then you are disgusted by the Todd/Marty story, period. That’s fine. I’m just trying to point out that this is all make-believe. And finally, Mr. Jones, you are correct that ultimately it is riveting storytelling, which means the producers have accomplished what they set out to do.

  3. Profile photo of heddalee

    This is sure to be one of the most passed-around and widely read DC posts for a long time. I absolutely agree with you – and I think there’s a lot about this story that’s been overlooked and unfairly dismissed… particularly the way that, as you said, Todd tried to turn his life around but couldn’t escape his old (self-)stigmatization, especially in the wake of the sorts of trampling life has given to him over the last several years.

    There’s much to chew on here. I’m grateful to OLTL for tackling such a difficult tale, and to you for this deeply thoughtful post.

  4. Profile photo of shipperx

    Nitpick: Jack Deveraux never raped Jennifer. He raped his first wife, Kayla, and there was always awkwardness and discomfort (and a divorce and a guilty plea of sexual battery) between them after that. No romance and no romantic relationship — awkwardness, discomfort, and regret. Jack didn’t become involved with Jennifer Horton until years later and there was no sexual abuse of any kind at any point in their relationship with one another (and unlike amnesiac Marty, Jennifer was fully aware of his history well before becoming involved with him). It may not be a particularly admirable story to tell, but — just to keep the details straight — Jennifer did *not* fall in love with her rapist.

    As to Todd, I don’t see why the story should be from his point of view. We’ve had him convince himself that he could be a different person complete with a wholesale tabula rasa in the Walker storyline. All this storyline has done is reinforce that Todd has never changed at all. There has been no redemption because he’s still incapable of comprehending the world from anyone’s point of view BUT his own. (And I also wonder why Todd is so intent on Marty’s forgiveness since she was *not* the first woman that he raped. There were others before her. The show likes us to forget that there were rape victims prior to Marty and that he tried to rape Marty a second time in an alley and that he also plotted to rape Nora. Todd Manning is in a class of Soap Rapists all by himself in that he’s far and away the worst, most habitual offender of the lot.)

  5. Profile photo of Regan Cellura
    Regan Cellura

    I’m a GH girl first but these past three days, I have been going home and firing up OLTL before GH. TSJ and SH have been incredible.
    I have said countless times as a new-again viewer to OLTL, I missed most of TSJ’s portrayal of Todd and that allowed me a certain disconnect from the current storyline. While I enjoy TSJ’s version of Todd Manning very much, RH is Todd to me. However, as someone who watched that gang rape s/l like it was vital to my existence ( another time in my life where OLTL got top billing over GH ) I still had that uneasy feeling about the current s/l that most fans had. It was just wrong. Right or wrong though, kudos to TSJ and SH… simply beautiful work.

    Great read J Bernard!

  6. Profile photo of soapster

    well thought out statement but neverthe less what I saw transpire on my screen was a romance. I saw a man wooing a lady complete with picnic and loving glances towards one another. I saw a character who the audience was made to dissect and justify with elaborate reasons for his behavior rather than a tortured delusions soul showcased by the writers.

    What makes me think of this storyline as disgusting is not my redemption of Todd because we have been there before with his latest before marty is friendship with Evangeling which has all but been written out of the history of OLTL but my real life experience with females of sexual abuse. I work closely with D.O.V.E. advocates and victims of sexual abuse in my job and this entire storyline was just a slap in the face to all those who have experience this and to the original storyline with dealt with the victims prespective.

  7. Profile photo of kerfuffles

    Obviously this storyline is compelling and interesting to some people or they would not be saying so here.

    I completely agree with this column and have always strongly disagreed with those who said this storyline was an attempt at romance, aka rapemance. Any walk in a field or candle lit in a room was set against a backdrop where the audience knew that everything Todd was telling Marty was a lie–a cruel lie–and Marty’s complete perception of him was a falsehood. That wasn’t romantic, that was intentionally creepy and a scathing expose of Todd’s psyche. This so-called romantic walk in a field and marriage proposal was all about Todd and Marty leaving with Starr’s baby–a baby that Marty believed based on Todd’s lies Starr was freely giving up but in fact Todd was going to kidnap and tell Starr the newborn baby DIED. There’s no “mance” in that. Just a sick plot that Todd developed. Even Tess of all people was constantly telling Todd was a sick bastage he was for doing what he was doing. If OLTL had intended to sell this as a romance, that is the last thing they would have Tess saying. And ultimately Marty’s response over the past few days to the continuous expose of Todd’s lies to her just proves how non-romantic any of this was or was intended to be.

    As far as sending a bad message to victims of sexual assault, I don’t understand the position on that either. The storyline has never suggested that any rape victim would knowingly fall for her rapist. To the contrary it’s saying just the opposite. I can understand where the storyline might be particularly disturbing for a victim of sexual assault to watch, just like a storyline about murder, liver disease, etc. might be disturbing to watch for victims of those tragedies. But I don’t think it is in any way sending a message that rapists and their rape victims would knowingly carry on a romance, anything but.

  8. Profile photo of east.west

    Love this Love it.

    Yes now this is the kind of payoff I am tlkn about (hopefully they won’t be stupid and ruin it w/a pregnancy).

    But like I said J. you hit the nail on the head.

  9. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    Warning: it’s really late, and I’m incredibly tired, so if this post makes any sense at all it’ll be a miracle:

    Bernard, I appreciate your well thought out piece. I do however have a different perspective. I’m one of the OLTL fans that’s offended. This story and the fact that OLTL is telling it, actually makes me sick. You call the story riveting, I call it repulsive. The only reason I started watching this show again (I stopped for about 2 weeks) was because I thought it unfair to blast a story that I wasn’t actually watching. And sure enough, as the story progressed I found myself getting angrier.

    I have to say that in no way are Todd’s actions like ‘what if’ conversations, or “every love story we wish we could reinvent”. Not at all. BUT I do think this is the way Todd sees it. Overall you’ve done a good job at describing Todd’s point of view and how he’s justified his actions. Unfortunately these are all his delusions. This isn’t what is actually playing on screen. While you may find what’s going on in Todd’s head fascinating, I’m reacting to what I’m seeing, and what we’re seeing is Todd making up for victimizing Marty by…victimizing Marty *again.* No matter how Todd has spinned this in his own mind, this is the story that is actually being told. And why in the world would I be riveted by *that*?

    You’re absolutely right to say that this is Todd’s story, and that’s one of the things that’s disturbed me most. Because we’re seeing this through Todd’s eyes, he is the one that we’re identifying with. Of course we feel awful for Marty, but because this is about Todd and we’re seeing his perspective, Marty (who, with her amnesia, has been rendered practically a “blank slate” throughout this story) has been used only as a prop. And while the writers have played up the “creepiness” of what Todd has done, they’ve also wanted the audience to sympathize with him (poor Todd just wants to undo the past, poor delusional Todd believes he loves Marty, poor Todd tried to make Marty leave but she wouldn’t go, poor Todd changed his mind about his evil plans but it was too late, poor Todd – at least he admitted the truth to Marty! Boo-hoo!!) Some see this as “shades of grey,” but I’m appalled that these writers are trying to manipulate me into caring for this perpetual victimizer.

    Some of what you’ve written has confused me though. You’re saying the story is irresponsible and also an indictment? You wrote that it’s “challenged the audience to see this story in a light that goes against conventional soap wisdom and still somehow reinforce it at the same time.” I’m not exactly sure how you can reconcile those two things. IMO, in no way is this story an indictment of how soap rape stories are told, it’s an example of the worst of them.

    This “Tarty” story is everything that Marty’s rape story wasn’t: offensive, done only for shock value, w/ no depth or socially redeeming value to it. Regardless of the motivations & rationalizations of Todd, the elements taken from Gothic lit, and the “narrative truths” you see in the story, this boils down to one thing for me: 15 years after the groundbreaking story of Marty’s rape, we’re forced to watch Todd yet again psychologically and physically victimize Marty. This story is a reflection of how rape stories are being told now – with an emphasis on gimmicks and twists, in hopes of stirring up controversy. Something that is not only offensive but dangerous as it trivializes the issue and in some cases perpetuates rape myths.

    Oh my…I was going to talk about several points that you made Bernard, and also go into the issues I have with portrayals of rape on soaps, but I’d probably be here for several hours, lol. I might do a Part II on this thread soon – and hopefully it’ll be more coherent :)

  10. Profile photo of n69n

    notice how all TODD is talkin about is himself…how HE feels, how HE’S changed, how this has been so good for HIM…

    he still has *no concept* of MARTY’s point of view…or that she even *HAS* a point of view!

    he hasnt learned a damn thing.

    TODD’s all “i love you i love you i love you”…he has no idea of what “love” even means.

    what he means is “i controlled you i controlled you i controlled you”, & he is not mourning the loss of love, he’s mourning THE LOSS OF CONTROL.

    i dont think he knows the difference.

  11. Profile photo of wfd1966

    I think the problem a lot of viewers who actually followed the original “Todd rapes Marty” storyline have with this current incarnation is that it completely destroys what was one of the only truly realistic depictions of the relationship between a rapist and his victim on daytime television. All that raw emotion … the anger that seethes within a rapist, the torment that forever lives within the victim … had been brilliantly conveyed on One Life to Live over the years, with no attempt to gloss over it or “fix it” until now. I believe that a story that stood on its own for so long as an example of brilliant story-telling has now been unexcusably tarnished.

  12. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones


    Not only have you provided a cogent, detailed and thoroughly well-reasoned rebuttal, you echo the sentiments of a great number, if not the majority, of fans who are repulsed by the storyline including a few here who have responded and what seems to be the overwhelming consensus among the bloggers and contributors here at Daytime Confidential. I don’t take particular issue with any of your points because I largely agree. Because you more or less summarize the strong negative reactions to this Todd/Marty story, I’d like to try to respond to what I think are those issues which are most salient to the original commentary.

    In my opinion, Todd Manning is not a sympathetic character. In fact, Todd has never been a sympathetic character despite the valiant efforts of many headwriters and producers to keep Todd viable on the canvas after his scores of crimes, ranging from multiple rapes to attempted murder. This is no reflection on the fine work of Howarth or St. John, both of whom have managed as actors to find layers to Todd’s humanity and peel them back for us to see. But at the end of the day and no matter what Todd has done to "redeem" himself, he has remained at heart a damaged, stark raving mad sociopath. This story is all about Todd’s delusions, as you say and I said and Marty proclaimed in yesterday’s episode.

    To that end, there are essentially four basic tenents embedded in my blizzard of words above that relate that point specifically to this storyline. Two that are explicit, one that is implict and one that is subtextual.

    The first is I attempted to illustrate in great detail why "Todd the Rapist" is Todd’s core identity, externally and self-imposed. He — unlike Luke Spencer or Jack Devereaux — has never transformed himself from that identity, wallowing in his own vile insanity from a general perspective and specifically within the confines of how this story has played out. It is this delusional manipulation of Marty that completely negates the argument that what we have seen in this story is a "romance." It is anything but a romance. This is not the point you were making; it is the argument I was making, which is I I more or less agree with you about the nature of the story.

    In Gothic literature, the brooding and enigmatic lord of the manor hiding his terrible secret from the doe-eyed, innocent invalid is played as romantic redemption, his mistake or crime as much a mystery to the audience as to his sequestered ward. That terrible secret is usually revealed or his actions explained at the end of the tale, for shock and awe. Then we "understand" why he did all the things it seemed he did.

    There is no question about Todd’s history with Marty. In this storyline we know it all; there has been no attempt whatsoever to "convince" the audience that the gang rape we saw was not what we saw, as Gloria Monty did when she recast Luke’s rape of Laura as a "seduction." Yes, this story has played out with some of the trappings of romance complete with picnics, playful banter and the sparing use of light & breezy music. But the fact is that the bulk of this story has been presented as anything but a romance: the darkened, isolated house, ominous music and Todd slightly crazed stare have all contributed to the presentation to us of Todd’s villainy and evil. A Gothic horror movie is more appropriate to how this thing has been produced and shown to us.

    The second tenent is based on the fact that while Marty has been the object of the vast majority of attention by the press and commentators, what disturbs me is that little attention is paid to the fact that Marty isn’t Todd’s only victim in this tale. I tried to point out that he has deliberately and systematically psychologically abused several other women including Dr. Joplin, the nurse, Blair, most cruelly Marcie and most heniously Starr, his own daughter. This even includes his own newly born granddaughter, who would have been stolen from her mother under his original plan.

    My point here is that all Todd’s bullying, intimidation, threats, and plotting to steal his granddaughter took place while Todd was supposedly "romancing" Marty, but those are not the actions of a romantic lead nor a sympathetic, misunderstood tragic figure on the road to redemption. Instead, these are and have been the actions of a monster.

    The third tenent is reserved for what turns out to be the bulk of my criticism: the longstanding tradition of redemption of rapists into romantic leads. This isn’t just the a criticism of writers or producers, but of much of the audience who embraces them. The trend started with Luke’s rape of Laura and his redemption and has continued through this extremely disturbing group of people who are fans of "Tarty" who know full well that Todd led the gang rape of Marty and yet want them to get together.
    This criticism compromises most of my commentary and the phenomenon has bothered me to no end for the last couple of decades."Tarty" fans, who have every right to root for who they wish to root for, nonetheless are the ultimate extension of phenomenon. They seem to be completely unaware that this Todd/Marty story is "the magic mirror" of every redeemed soap rapist story: in real life, this Todd/Marty story is what the redeemed rapists on soaps would really look like: a sociopath trying to draw his victim into his web of delusion. This is why I can call this story both a sensationalist reinforcement of these tropes for shock value ("Tarty" fans) and an indictment of same (the entire redeemed soap rapist phenomenon).

    Finally, as much as I view soaps as entertainment I also view them as literature not completely unlike the serialized stories of Dickens or the forensic psychological drama of Toni Morrison’s Black women. Yes, soap opera is a genre predicated on emotional response, not necessarily logic or intellectual rigor. I get teary eyed over certain deaths, fearful for the lives of favorite characters when they are imperiled, laugh at corny jokes and cheer at the occasional display of badassery. Good writing, acting and production values make me smile; the opposite makes me frown.

    Yet at the end of the day, Daisy, when I look at these stories, issues and characters I find myself no more attached to Todd Manning’s evil than Hanibal Lechter’s cannibalism or Archie Bunker’s racism or  Lex Luthor’s megalomaniacal jealousy or Jack Torrance’s insanity or Eve Harrington’s duplicitous and ruthless ambition or Vic Mackey’s murderous self-preservation. The lines I draw are no absolute, so I can’t say I will never write about a story that infuriates me on moral grounds.  Yet I submit understanding why a character does despicable, evil acts does not equate to condoning them or even finding sympathy for them. For me, it is often the opposite: confirming the evil within the characters rather than excusing it.

    I do not excuse or condone what Todd has done. I understand why the story is so repulsive to so many. But it is not as if the story can be undone at this point; we can’t unring this bell. My purpose was to expose that this Todd/Marty tale has not been written or presented as a "romance" or "love story" but as one sick, twisted sociopath’s delusional and psychotic notion of his own ultimately doomed and unattainable path to redemption.

  13. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    Bernard, as I’m understanding it, you’re saying that this storyline is showing that unlike the redeemed rapists of soaps past, Todd will always be what he always was, so fans can’t cling to their rapist turned hero fantasies. Is that about right? But I would argue that by continuing to show him sympathetically they *are* pushing for people to see him that way. Not as hero per se, but as self-destructive and misunderstood.

    You’re right, Todd was abusing many people in this story, so his actions were heinous on many different levels. But in some viewers eyes they were largely “undone” when he decided to make things right (deciding to not go through with his plans to kidnap Starr’s baby, and gee actually supporting Marcie adopting the child.) Now you explained why you felt it made sense, psychologically, for Todd to do this… but in essence this was the writers “redeeming” Todd to the audience. The audience was supposed to feel that indeed he’s “changed” that the love of a good woman really has “redeemed” him. You wrote of Todd’s behavior “…but those are not the actions of a romantic lead or a sympathetic, misunderstood tragic figure on the road to redemption.” But in fact, I think that’s exactly how it was presented to us. I think it was Friday’s episode when we saw Todd beaten and bloodied, lying half dead on the floor, asking Marty to kill him. If that doesn’t scream “tragic figure” I don’t know what does. Now personally, I thought “Yes, please kill him…please do!” But I honestly believe that viewers were supposed to interpret it as ironic “Todd was finally on the road to redemption, he finally was going to try and make things right, but it was too late! He has self-destructed again.” Tragic figure. And that’s why I think it promotes the “redeemed rapist storylines” as opposed to being an indictment of them. And I have to say, a lot of the “Tarty” fan comments seem to support that.

    You wrote:

    They seem to be completely unaware that this Todd/Marty story is “the magic mirror” of every redeemed soap rapist story: in real life, this Todd/Marty story is what the redeemed rapists on soaps would really look like: a sociopath trying to draw his victim into his web of delusion. This is why I can call this story both a sensationalist reinforcement of these tropes for shock value (“Tarty” fans) and an indictment of same (the entire redeemed soap rapist phenomenon).

    And that really hits it on the head. What was the writers intentions with this story? Was it to interpret it the way you have, or the way “Tarty” fans have? Was it told in way that there was no “right” interpretation, in a way that would purposely be ambiguous, causing more controversy? I think that’s the case, and I find that pretty despicable.

    I am responding to this story on a very emotional and personal level, as well as looking at it from a sociological perspective I guess you could say. I think it’s because unlike the more outlandish stories, rape is very real. Sure there are murders in real life, but unlike on the soaps I don’t know of anyone who’s had their pimp Daddy stabbed leading to a Who Dunnit mystery (like on DAYS), and sure I know there are really mobsters but because that’s a world that is completely alien to me and everyone I know, the portrayal as mobsters as “heroes” isn’t as offensive to me, and so I’m willing to judge it more on it’s literary merit and not on it’s moral validity. But unfortunately I, personally, can’t do so with rape. It’s very real and it effects who knows how many women (the statistics are astonishing). So watching another story that exploits the topic is something that infuriates me.

    When a soap represents rape as a “grey area” or something that’s “debatable” (like Y&R Paul/Cricket-stine, DAYS EJ/Sami, B&B’s Brooke/Ridge, ATWT Jessica/Marshall-I never saw this story, but I’ve been told that’s the way it was portrayed, and w/ Todd/Marty having sex-I think it actually falls into this category because some see it as consensual sex and others see it as rape) or when rapists become viable romantic options for their victims, it’s perpetuating rape myths. People to this day when talking about rape say things like: Well maybe she really did want it, maybe she was asking for it, did she fight hard enough, sometimes no means yes (as if rape is some sort of miscommunication). And these kinds of stories that put the victimization of women into “grey area” territory *promotes* these misconceptions about rape. Not only is that offensive but I wonder how it effects younger people. I have to ask if the way rapes are portrayed on soaps is shaping the way young people think about real-life rapes.

    So yes, I can watch a Hannibal Lector, Lex Luthor, Vic Mackey and Eve Carrington (one of my favorite film b*tches), because they don’t hit home with me on any level. I’m not identifying with them or their world in a real way, so I can get completely sucked in. (Archie Bunker is a whole other area, but I’ve already written more than enough, lol)

    Soaps, which are considered to be a women’s genre, dealing with a subject that is so powerful and so devastating to women, in a sensationalistic manner (which trivialize it) or as a twisted romantic fantasy (which promotes rape myths) is unconscionable to me. And as far as I’m concerned this “Tarty” mess just further exploits the topic. I can honestly say that it makes me ashamed to be a soap fan.

  14. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones


    There is an old story which I do not recall where I first heard it, but goes something like this:

    “A professor invited a well-known author to discuss his best selling novel to the professor’s literature class. After a lengthy introduction, the professor turned the lectern over to the author. As the discussion got under way, the students began to question the motives of the characters, talk about the logic and illogic of plot points, and how the story should have been written, unfolded and which endings were appropriate.

    Finally, the author was able to get a word in edgewise and said to the students, ‘What you are discussing is not the story I wrote.’

    The professor turned to the author and said, “Sir, you only wrote the story. You couldn’t possibly know what it means.”

    It’s a tricky thing trying to defend one’s opinion, much less when that opinion is about someone else’s stories, which are open to all manner interpretation once released into the universe. If it were not, this discussion between us would not exist nor would “Tarty” fans be so seemingly numerous.

    Do I believe the story should not have been told? That’s a slippery slope down which I don’t tend to slide. (No jokes from the peanut gallery, folks!) Seriously, I’m less concerned about whether or not any story “should” be told than I am how it’s told. It is the “how” that is more or less our true source of disagreement.

    My original post was written before Thursday and Friday’s episodes. Yet I still maintain after seeing them that Todd was presented as a psychopath and I wasn’t as convinced of the presentation of him in a sympathetic way as you and no doubt others feel he was in those scenes when he was beaten and asking to be killed. Yet I understand the interpretation of those scenes as you see them. To that end, when I say Todd is “tragic” I do not mean romantically tragic, as pointed out. I mean “tragic” as in undone by his own irrevocable internal and moral deficiencies despite any attempts to “redeem” the character in the past.

    You asked, “What was the writers intentions with this story? Was it to interpret it the way you have, or the way “Tarty” fans have? Was it told in way that there was no “right” interpretation, in a way that would purposely be ambiguous, causing more controversy?”

    This is where I go back to the story of the professor and the author. I stated in my original commentary that I had no idea if Frons or Carlivati intended to tell the story as I interpreted, and that includes the “Tarty” fans and/or something more ambiguous. I can only point out my interpretation from my perspective and cite as examples and evidence why I believe this particular story was not in any way, shape, form or fashion or romance and how it is — intentionally or not — an indictment of the phenomenon of “rapemances” that started with Luke & Laura. Separate from those considerations, I judge it as I would any other story, regardless of genre or medium.

    Suffice it to say I cannot offer a rebuttal to those many, many points about which we actually agree, no more than I can continue to repeat my clearly stated positions over and over.

    As always, you have my utmost respect and I remain your faithful servant….

  15. Profile photo of daisyclover1938

    Bernard, I should have pointed out that I think your interpretation of the story is by far the best I’ve read. My long angry babblings are definitely *not* directed at you. And I definitely don’t think you’re in any way condoning what Todd has done. There are tons of things I don’t like about the story, but my frustration lies completely with the writers, not other viewers who might like the story, or even ones that support “Tarty” — I suspect that if I didn’t already have major issues with the way rapes are portrayed on soaps, this Todd/Marty storyline might not have upset me as much as it has…

    BTW, I appreciate that you’ve tackled this issue in such a respectful and thoughtful way. And that you’ve given me a chance to say my peace as well :) As far as being my faithful servant – LOL! You *know* it’s the other way around! :)

  16. Profile photo of J Bernard Jones
    J Bernard Jones

    All this storyline has done is reinforce that Todd has never changed at all. There has been no redemption because he’s still incapable of comprehending the world from anyone’s point of view BUT his own.

    I agree. In fact, I said as much.

    Most of this is covered in the post, though not the details of Todd’s other rapes or attempted rapes because it would be fair to say that Marty represents the most heinous and indelible of Todd’s crimes against women. Therefore it makes perfect sense that Marty above all others would be the object of his self-styled quest for "redemption."

  17. Profile photo of soapster

    I tickles me when posters throw out words like compelling story, there was nothing compelling, moving or fascinating about this. In fact I am willing to bet that more than likely most just opted out of watching. I agree there is likely to be an increased in viewership but just like a car crash once you pass it by it becomes less interesting.

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