Seven censors Home & Away same-sex kiss
Home and Away bows to pressure and censors a same-sex kiss following a media frenzy.
The Seven Network has censored a same sex kiss in its soapie Home and Away.
A scene involving a kiss between Joey (Kate Bell) and Charlie (Esther Anderson) has been censored following media stories with lobby groups criticising the storyline in a ‘family’ show.
The plotline involves the arrival of a young lesbian who has become attracted to one of the show’s regular characters. As the two grow more intimate they were set to share an on-screen kiss. In last night’s episode (pictured) the two girls finished a dance with an awkward and hesitant moment before Charlie made a quick exit.
After media stories and criticism by lobby groups, Seven diminished the intensity of the romance between the two.
Seven has itself contributed to the media storm, which even led to UK press stories, first by talking to media about the upcoming plot and including debate on the subject in Today Tonight -the show that precedes the soap.
There is even the suggestion that the show has lost 100,000 viewers since the lesbian story became news.
The show’s average audience this year has been:
Week 7: 1,123,000
Week 8: 1,094,000
Week 9: 1,192,000
Week 10: 1,136,000
Week 11: 1,092,000 / (“Lesbian Story” breaks in media)
Week 12: 1,090,000
Week 13: 1,080,000
PG television allows for adult themes with limitations. A soap can depict romance as either heterosexual or homosexual. Seven fell within the boundaries of the PG ruling to include a same-sex kiss, just as it has kisses by straight characters.
The media outcry has been self-serving, with network and lobby groups each pushing their own agendas.
Family groups who attacked the storyline also did so purely on the promise of upcoming plotlines. They had not viewed the footage. Generally speaking, Seven doesn’t send previews of Home and Away.
The irony is Australia was the first country in the world to have an ongoing, sympathetic, openly gay character in Number 96 in the ’70s. Since then gay and bisexual characters have appeared on numerous soaps including Prisoner, Sons and Daughters, Pacific Drive, Water Rats, GP, Sweat, Raw FM, Breakers, The Secret Life of Us, All Saints, Rush, Love My Way, Satisfaction, The Circuit.
While not all PG representations include scenes of romance, even Neighbours covered the same terrain as Home and Away in 2004 when Lana (Bridget Neval) was attracted to Sky (Stephanie McIntosh). That aired at 6:30pm. It had gay characters as far back as 1994 when Macca (John Morris) was a builder who worked with Doug Willis (Terence Donovan).
Out of the Blue is currently screening on TEN at 5:30pm with lesbians without any fuss. Poppy and Peta are wildly in love, however out of nowhere, Peta’s husband has turned up. Peta married him before she came out, and they’ve never been divorced.
All those ‘outraged’ by the present storyline have forgotten Home and Away itself has had gay characters. In 2003 Pippa and Christopher returned in 2003 for Sally’s wedding and revealed that Christopher was gay. A kiss was averted at the time during a non-mutual attraction. Back in 2006 Eve fell in love with Sarah Lewis which jealousy led to her becoming the notorious ‘Summer Bay Stalker’. Shannon (Isla Fisher) also left Summer Bay with her older lover Mandy.
In Reality Television diverse contestants are celebrated for their individuality: So You Think You Can Dance Australia, Big Brother, The Block, Australia’s Got Talent, Dancing with the Stars, Strictly Dancing, Australian Idol amongst others.
Two same sex parents appeared years ago on Play School.
There is also a question of the H&A storyline choosing to include an attraction with a character who had previously enjoyed heterosexual storylines. Seven did not respond to questions about whether Charlie was therefore a bisexual character from the start, let alone how she is perceived by writers now.
Former Home and Away script producer Coral Drouyn has previously told backtothebay.net: “Home & Away should have a gay character. I tried several times but it ended up a debacle. It won’t happen while the present hierarchy is in place. I have found on various shows but especially H&A, often the most vehemently opposed person to a gay character is a gay person. Not from homophobia…but simply from fear of ratings.”
Ironically there are gays and lesbians workingin the Free to Air and Pay TV industry as writers, actors, directors, producers, publicists, executives and even programmers.
This smells more and more of a TV ‘gay panic’, with everyone getting last-minute nerves: the network, advertisers, lobby groups.
The missing ingredient in the decision making process is the audience.
Source: The Australian