Telly teen girls will always be commodities. Ever since poor old Nabokov gave the lazy architects of tea-time droolfests a teasing template, there has been the slippery of lip, bony of hip, school uniform seductress, a bit of ‘innocent’ distraction for the Dads to make soap-time bearable. This used to be the relatively tame terrain of Australian soaps, where high schools were populated by the likes of Flick and Shannon in their bum-skimming uniforms who had endless boy trouble due to being so goddamn hot. It was a certain glamour that Michelle and all her permed hair in ‘Eastenders’ just couldn’t compete with.
Alas this old-timey creep –fest looks like Mary Whitehouse sponsored larks compared to what telly teens are being subjected to these days. Whereas once it used to be the endless saga of ‘Am I going to go all the way with Berkface at the senior Prom?’ or ‘Will I get off with my best mates boyf because I just can’t help how hot I am?’ (See Beverly Hills 90210 seasons 1-5) it now has been replaced with the bleak conundrum of ‘Am I the hot teen that’s going to be raped/sexually assaulted?’ or ‘Am I the one with the sexual abuse background to be exploited?’ or ‘Am I the one going on the game?
‘Babe -Station Up- Skirt Show’ (or Hollyoaks as it’s more commonly known as) is renowned for these glossy would-be Emmanuelle’s that are put in a variety of sadistic sexual moves in the name of ‘gritty’ realism and extra added lads-mag shoots. There was popular character Mandy and her abuse background, the FHM favourite McQueen girls and their controversial rape and escort storylines, Silas the serial killer of teen girls. Such was their lust for nubile flesh in perilous situations they invented ‘serial rapist’ Andy Holt who got his own ‘late night’ special where he went on to rape two of the lead ‘sexy teen’ characters. Is Hollyoaks highlighting issues? Perhaps but when it’s done in such a way that it looks like the plot to a psycho-sexual porno, where the women are just tanned up orifices in highly flammable outfits that are forgotten about by the time Channel 4 News kicks in, it loses its moral footing.
Of course teenage boys have access to much worse on the internet but when this is the endless, grinding fodder that’s flung down the telly tube daily it’s taking the edges off even the most sensitive of folks. They become repeated sadistic story lines that lead to nothing other than bizarre, blank titillation.Rape is now used as a plot-line to spice up ratings. Boring week down the Dog in the Pond? Fling a rape in! Viewers are getting sick of girl X, Y, Z? Bung in a rape! They’ll be a shoe-in for a National Television Award. Hollyoaks even had a trial by audience of Jacqui McQueen’s rape where we could all judge if Gilly was indeed guilty or was Jacqui just some slag setting him up. Nice. Responsible. This is how seriously rape is being treated at tea-time, it all boils down to: ‘Press the red button if you think Jacqui is just a slag who was asking for it’
Even shiny, smiley, glamourous all new 90210 has fallen into this warped trap. Where once it was the home of pure, unadulterated, escapist vacuity, it has now decided to tackle ‘issues’ especially ones that involve girls and no clothes. Season 2 saw the much loved, sassy Sam Jones junior character of Naomi Clarke being raped by her school teacher Mr. Cannon, which was then dealt with in a ridiculous over-the-top caper where Silver and Naomi tie Mr. Cannon to a chair beat him up and get him arrested. Phew! Girl Power! In season 4 all round good-girl Annie Wilson becomes an escort to help her spiraling debt (what happened to the Peach Pit?!) which culminates with a business man named Patrick (not Bateman) asking for some schoolgirl on schoolgirl action…
Do we really hate beauty and youth that much? Is there not a better plot device to make characters like Jacqui and Naomi more likable for girls than having them raped? How about just letting them be bitchy and fun and giving them interesting storylines? Rape cannot and should not be the great leveler for teen girls on telly. The message that rape makes bad girls good is not one that should be spreading across impressionable pre-teen synapse like the latest Justin Bieber tune. Of course these serious issues should be addressed, but they like the teens and pre teens that are watching, deserve to be treated with respect.
Originally published on fanny.ie