Admit it: Things have been a little intense in the last few weeks in Soapland. Heads have rolled, people are irritated, and the most dramatic twists and turns have been behind the scenes instead of in front of it.
I figured it was time to just delve into the ridiculous for a moment or two – to relieve some pressure! I think indulging in silliness every once in a while is a mark of an extremely well-rounded, sane person.
The other day, someone introduced me to the works of Elva Miller. If you don’t know who she is, she was briefly a singing star in the 1960s. She fell squarely into the odd and sometimes it’s-so-bad-it’s-good-camp. To hear Mrs. Miller sing brings to mind Hyacinth Bucket from the BBC’s Keeping Up Appearances, but as an All-American housewife.
To give you an idea of what I’m talking about, here’s a scene with her from a film (I’m not sure which one):
Unique, for sure. I find people’s reactions to her to be curious. They have a lingering doubt: Is it a joke? Is she in on the joke?
There have been other artistic works in the same vein (John Waters movies, for one). But daytime has, for the most part, taken itself too seriously. Ultra-serious in a way that invites mocking. (There are entire online communities that talk about Jason Morgan’s hair on GH.) And Passions may have been a joke, and was in on the joke, but for every original or inventive piece they did, I thought there was much more there that wasn’t funny, or ironic.
I was really surprised, then, to find non-soap online communities that were assigning a campy, ironic, Elva-Miller-like perspective to a former soap actress – Brenda Dickson. I was astonished last year when my friends – a great many of them men who had never seen Y&R a day in their life – started to post about Brenda in their blogs. Some of this was fueled by a YouTube video of Brenda being, well, Brenda:
I mean, whatever you think of her, or her Y&R work (I know many people loved her Jill, though I prefer Jess Walton myself), Brenda’s an original. And that is a pretty singular vision, to see yourself in that light and share that perspective with everyone.
I think soaps forget to poke fun at themselves sometimes, or to not take themselves TOO seriously. (This syndrome always rears its head at the Emmys.) And humor and silliness can be a huge breath of fresh air. It’s also human nature, which is what soaps should be sharing with us. There is, however, a fine line between irony and parody…