Veteran, LA Times awards show aficianado Tom O'Neil recently ripped into the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) over the organization's decision to present As The World Turns with the GLAAD Media Award for Outstanding Daytime Drama.
When the Luke (Van Hansis) and Noah (Jake Silbermann) romance debuted on "As the World Turns" a few years ago, it was obvious that the actors weren't permitted to kiss on screen. That ban not only persisted through the eligibility period of the first GLAAD Award it won (2007), but the early part of the eligibility period of the second award too (2008). Then the gay couple, hallelujah, was finally permitted to smooch, but not to have a physical relationship beyond that — like most hormonally crazed heterosexual couples do on TV soaps. That breakthrough finally occurred in 2009, but the ban still seemed to be in place during both times "As the World Turns" was honored by GLAAD.
O'Neil went on to take executives at ATWT's parent company Procter and Gamble Productions to task for admitting to buckling under pressure for a Right Wing extremist religious group.
Jeannie Tharrington, a spokeswoman for Procter & Gamble Productions, which produces the CBS series, conceded last year that the conservative portrayal of Luke and Noah's love life was due in part to "some of the feedback that we've gotten." Part of that feedback was the threat of a boycott against Procter & Gamble products led by the right-wing political group American Family Assn. of Tupelo, Miss., which denounced the show's portrayal of homosexuality as "repulsive" and "offensive."
GLAAD president Neil Giuliano stood by his organization's decision to award ATWT.
"GLAAD has very much a carrot and stick approach," he adds, "fighting defamation and working in media advocacy. The awards program is the time we recognize people for being fair, accurate and inclusive. It's not the time we bring out the stick and raise our anti-defamation fists in the air about things people are not doing as well as they should."
Personally, I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. On one hand, I applaud ATWT for at least attempting to tell a gay storyline, however if the NAACP gave an award to a soap opera that had admitted to not allowing a black couple to show the same kind of intimacy white couples are allowed to show onscreen, I would be outraged. What do you think, should GLAAD have awarded ATWT, or would a safer bet have been the equally controversial All My Children? One thing's for sure, Guiding Light had damn well better win next year! Otalia is the most realistic gay storyline daytime has ever told.
Check out more from Tom O'Neil's column Gold Derby, at LA Times The Envelope.