The Great American Soap Opera



There will never be another first African American President. When the time comes, there will not be a first woman president or a first openly gay president, either. When those days arrive as they surely will, I hope to be around to see them. Each milestone should be celebrated, as is this first, as another moment when enough citizens of this great country cast aside lingering bigotries, prejudices and biases to simultaneously transcend that candidate's racial, gender or sexual identity and embrace them at the same time. January 20th will be a great day; it would be nice if we could put aside our political or other differences to celebrate this achievement in our nation's history. One of Barack Obama's heroes sums it up best:

"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." - Abraham Lincoln, 1862

I am not the spokesperson for "Black America" in this matter or any other. The views expressed here are purely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Daytime Confidential, its generous and exceptional staff or its fine community of bloggers. Like each of you, I am a fan of soaps and continuing drama. I love a great narrative, full of human foible, folly and hubris; operatic tales of love, honor, passion and grand emotion; populated with heroes, villains, lovers and everyday people caught up in forces bigger than themselves; narratives chock-a-block with contradictions, resolutions and unexpected plot twists with long-awaited payoffs — all them leading into the next tense, suspenseful, exciting chapter that spins off in directions we may or may not have anticipated. Ultimately, we hope that good will triumph over evil and that if happily ever after doesn't come today, we might still search for it tomorrow. That is the bright promise of every show we love as fans, even if they don't always live up to our expectations. In a way, this is also the promise of our country.

It is the continuing story of The Great American Soap Opera.


Comments

daisyclover1938's picture
Member since:
14 November 2007
Last activity:
3 years 49 weeks

Great post Bernard. As usual you've given me a lot to think about.
Some random comments/observations:
*I don't read political blogs/threads on DC or elsewhere, so I was surprised when you mentioned that some people (inclduing DC posters) don't see the importance of Obama being elected. That just boggles my mind. How can anyone deny the significance of it?

*And it's interesting that you stated you thought it was more likely that a woman would be elected president before an African American would. For my entire adult life I've been sure that an AA man would be elected before a woman, and that it would happen in my lifetime. I'd love to see a woman elected as President someday, but we'll see...

*I've always appreciated that Y&R has had African American characters that are so interesting/complex and who where important to the show, not just insulting "tokens." But I always felt that *romantically* they could have been better integrated into the show.

*I have this theory (I've mentioned it before), that one reason TPTB are reluctant to introduce AA characters is because they still consider interracial romances (particularly white/black) 'taboo'. By bringing on an AA character, they may feel 'limited' in who they can pair that person with...

*I LOVED Doreen on Generations. She is one of my favorite soap characters. She was a total b*tch but could cry like no one's business (I still remember that trembling chin of hers, lol). And the famous catfight between Doreen and Maya was awesome Smile

*I've read about the Carla story on OLTL, but it's always reminded me more of "Pinky" than "Imitation of Life". Maybe just because of the whole -falling in love with a white doctor- aspect of the story...though "Imitation" was the more soapy film, lol

Anyway, thanks for another interesting and thoughtful blog Bernard!

Member since:
8 May 2008
Last activity:
4 days 19 hours

Hey, Bernard, another great piece and a great way of how Barack being the first African American president and how soaps should be diverse in daytime and primetime is a first start to making it work. I feel that the industry does not feel that blacks matter, but I hope that this is the change that will start being in the entertainment industry that will be more diverse on screen.

siomonstuart2003

Member since:
10 July 2008
Last activity:
2 years 26 weeks

"that man" is not fully Black, he is 1/2 black so thier for not the first african american president..

GL/AMC/ATWT/GH/Y&R Fans!!!!!!!!!
Ashamed RC/BF's let Todd get of the rape charge!

J Bernard Jones's picture
Member since:
9 September 2008
Last activity:
11 hours 18 min

I was going to add a part about how the debate over whether Obama is "Black" or "bi-racial" is a dusty canard with no relevance.

There are very few, if any, "fully Black" black people in this country, as the vast majority of us are something mixed with something else. It is an age old debate about identity but in this case, Obama himself proves the argument moot:

Born to a Kenyan father and a white mother from Kansas, Obama has more of a claim to being literally "African American" than many of those of us who are black in America.

Even that is somewhat beside the point. After all, Obama embraces ALL of who he is: American, black, African, white, African American and everything those shadings imply. To claim that he is not something that he clearly embraces on his own terms is to devalue the man and those whose blood run in his veins.

He is a man comfortable in his own skin and that is what counts.

season1217's picture
Member since:
23 July 2008
Last activity:
30 weeks 4 days

Bernard, you're a beautiful, beautiful man!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pushing Daisies - You will always be in my heart!

Member since:
22 January 2008
Last activity:
47 min 47 sec

One drop of African blood makes you black, just like one drop of Jesus's blood makes you Holy.

season1217's picture
Member since:
23 July 2008
Last activity:
30 weeks 4 days

I don't agree, Jamey. Two words. Mariah Carey. Tongue I kid! I kid!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pushing Daisies - You will always be in my heart!

Member since:
22 January 2008
Last activity:
47 min 47 sec

Tongue Season! LOL

SoapSnob's picture
Member since:
1 July 2008
Last activity:
2 weeks 4 days

Exceptional piece, J. Bernard. Thank you for sharing it with us.

Member since:
14 December 2008
Last activity:
19 weeks 2 days

Excellent post. I didn't know about Jesse/Jenny and the backlash against them and all the other interacial couples and while I really shouldn't have been, I was surprised. Guess I'm a product of my generation.
Thank you again for your powerful words.

Member since:
15 October 2008
Last activity:
37 weeks 6 hours

J.Bernard it is always a treat to read your blog posts and this one I couldn't agree more with you.

Member since:
10 March 2008
Last activity:
3 years 19 weeks

This was a very nice read. It was good to read the honest examination of Jesse/Jenny. Jesse and Jenny would've made a good couple but I think they made great friends. Was it "settling" on the part of the writers? Yes. But I consider J/J one of the best friendships in the history of soaps and it led to Jesse/Jenny/Angie/Greg/Tad, a perfect five point star of friendship and love. JMHO.

Unfortunately Mr. Jones - and I say this with much respect - I feel like you've let current soaps off the hook a little bit with this piece. Of course, this is a historic day so perhaps it's best to concentrate on how far they've come but I hope that one of your future entries will take a less...sentimental look at what soaps bring to the global entertainment marketplace because I think this has a lot to do with what has killed the genre.

david46208's picture
Member since:
15 January 2009
Last activity:
3 days 10 hours

Thanks as an African American male I enjoyed this. I too think that soaps need to diversify their cast in Daytime and Primetime. I have been so passionate about this in my online video's as many may know. If there is a race-o-meter for the soaps then I must be one taking the most notes and quantifying with others. So I am putting my power to the pen and i have started my own online drama called Time After Time. Why don't you and Soap opera Confidential folks and readers alike check it out at http://www.timeaftertimeonlinedrama.webs.com Thanks again!