Saturday, April 11, 2015

"Young And The Restless" Is A Once A Week Minority Madhouse Exhibit

Since they first met in the summer of 2013, Devon Hamilton Winters ( Bryton James) and Hilary Curtis (Mishael Morgan) are still not a real/never have been an official couple.
Twists and turns of a soap opera thrive on being exciting, jaw dropping, a little scandalous teasing of epic proportions, but it's time to pull the rug from underneath the carpet. After a while, thirty plus years to be exact, the forced white voyeurism takes a toll on the subconscious mind of the minority individual. Let's talk more in depth about glaring reality of representation of minority characters, their current situation of being being background prop notes instead of front burner material. Aaron Foley's Atlantic article stressed importance of African descent soap opera characters. Yet the Hilary Curtis and Devon Hamilton Winters mention was a sour afterthought in context, an abrupt dismissal: 
One black character form the old days, Neil, was there, but he seems to be the only one. He's blind, for some reason or another, and the woman he married, Hillary, is sleeping with his son to get revenge for something Neil had done in the past. But it's an old storyline the show has done before.
This inconsiderate afterthought, however, is part of the problem. It's exactly how they're treated on Young and the Restless. What's on screen right now is a travesty. Last I left off, beaming over a grand love that shouldn't have ended up being an extramarital affair. People believe Hilary Curtis never loved Devon Hamilton Winters. Hilary next to Lauren Fenmore, Nikki Newman, Christine Blair, and Summer Newman was the only unhappily married last year, cheating on her poor wittle blind husband with his son-- writing seeming to be an obvious (not suspicious) attempt to dirty up a brown couple's forbidden love. Most diehard fans know straight from the bat that sparks crackled way before St. Neil's engagement with Leslie Michaelson broke off and left him pursuing the beautiful much younger woman. Writers refused to let Devon and Hilary's prior friendship get off the ground, having her kiss Jack Abbott which led Devon into a non-relationship with a model which then concluded with Hilary entering a nonsensical quickie marriage with Neil. A quickie marriage then plagued down by Neil's eyesight subjected easily deceived viewers to siding with him, calling Hilary and Devon nastiest of insults. Vilifying story blew up the spectrum, especially when accounting that minority characters are on fewer than the overly propped white characters.

On November 24, 2014, in one of Hilary and Devon's most heart-warming defining scenes, on for a good eight minutes, was sweeter than a cherry on a sundae. From Hilary jumping out of Jack's swivel chair, running to Devon's arms, and greeting him with an "I miss you" kiss to the feign island paradise of "absurdly romantic" effort. Oh how much we remarked on this calm before the storm. Wish we hadn't been right.
First of all, viewers are subjected to Hilary and Devon once a week. Sometimes less so. Like scraps off a dinner table, quixotic followers awaited presence of seeing brown hands hold one another, of brown eyes staring into each other, of brown skinned individuals voicing eternal love to one another. That was special, something wonderfully unique for college to middle aged watchers, especially minority women to witness and champion. It shouldn't be unique. It should happen all the time and not be a moment celebrated because it doesn't always happen. It happens everyday, every second. A brown skinned man does fall in love with a brown skinned woman. They just neglect to show this on television. Alas Hilary and Devon's story brought seeded a hope that the brown skinned woman could be coveted by a brown skinned man, desirable, wanted, and appreciated. Devon worshiped Hilary like a queen, a goddess. To see these characters show affection, to kiss was beautiful, a representation humanizing an experience rarely depicted, shedding light on Hilary and Devon as a phenomenon, as a promised beacon in the predominately white driven daytime world. However, in this past March's episode counts, portrayers Bryton James had five appearances and Mishael Morgan featured a low three out of a possible eighteen days. That is a pitiful amount for a popular pairing gracing magazine covers back to back, topping soap couple polls (being the first African descended couple to do so), and receiving high cyber chat volumes. Did Shonda Rhimes not express the importance of normalizing television? Of having characters onscreen represent the very audience watching? 
The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them. And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because, perhaps then, they will learn from them.
How much longer should we tolerate and bear burden of white voyeurism? We have been taught enough of the same rinse, lather, repeat of their leading protagonists. The time is now for Hilary and Devon to be frontburner. Not soon. Not someday. Now. Invest in them now! Young and the Restless has the largest African descendent cast in daytime with General Hospital a dismal second. Yet neither does not fully utilize fullest extent of talent housed. As of right now, instead of exchanging affection and urban poetry dripping dialogue, Hilary and Devon exchange heated insults in their three second scenes. Yes, they have broken up. On top of not being a real couple, Hilary falsely breaks up with Devon. Twist was shocking, but the steps were stalled, moving nowhere. Sentimental touching, an old begotten mannerism, turned cold when Hilary's palm graced Devon's shoulder. He abruptly shrugged it off, as though her fingertips were made of fire. Instead of brown eyes speaking tender truths, Hilary has turned into Ice Maiden, laying on the "sacrifice" too thickly to be considered torn solace in between. There is just no balance in the hurt and hate department. They seem to be at latter, Hilary mostly. True, she came to Genoa City as a master manipulator, faux charming and sly masquerade, but this Hilary on screen is something else. This is no nod to Old Hilary, to bad girl Ann Turner. No one knows why she is willing to perjure herself for Neil when it is Devon she loves. Has her shame over the affair murdered self-esteem that much?
Back in February, Bryton James, Mishael Morgan, and the pairing of Hilary and Devon topped major soap outlet polls like TVSource.com and CBS Soaps In Depth Magazine. They're still in the Top 10 on both polls and even managed crossover appeal in ABC Soaps In Depth Magazine. A bonafide incredible kudos is that Hilary and Devon are nominated for Fan Favorite Most Romantic Pairing in this year's Daytime Emmy Awards. That is amazing considering that they're not an actual couple and the sole representative of Young and the Restless. Meaning they're the best on the soap! So why refusal to invest (onscreen!)? The actors showcase incredible range and dedication to their characters, to their fans, even housing seeds of longevity. James himself said that he believed Devon and Hilary had potential to become the next Victor and Nikki. Ah, but if only the writers could see in the same vision as he.
The mistreatment of Hilary and Devon's love story maddens an audience whom has reached tortured breaking point. How strange that a billionaire like Devon has no true home, how pathetic the interaction now as though they never loved one another, never evoked poignant star-crossed love? Their affair had angered people, sending waves of hatred. Some believed Hilary loved Neil, bought into the sheer quickness of a hookup and marriage. These two, like Hilary and Devon, never went on a date. They shared meals and conversation, but nothing romantic ever sparked. Even their dull "I love you's" sounded unbelievable and below half-hearted. Nothing metaphoric transpired like unspoken connection that translated into harrowing magic whenever Hilary and Devon locked eyes from across a crowded room. Fans were stuck, trapped into suffering through the affair, which admittedly had unforgettable moments. The anger driven side saw disgust and ridicule, noting only the love making scenes, which were about five in total in a six month affair. However, it's those unforgettable moments that have a lasting gradual factor, the romantic dialogue between the two characters overshadowing the physical paintings of their taboo union. Love scenes were fiery, intense. Will not lie about that. Yet when Hilary reveals fear of cows and Devon dances with her next to a broken down Rolls Royce, when Devon turns Hilary's job into an island paradise, when Devon calls Hilary his treasure, putting her above his inheritance on Christmas Day, and when Hilary imagines Devon as a father of her future child are some captivating gifted snippets to reminisce about.    

"Where are they?" The inquiring fans desire to know. So they put up "Got Hevon" ads because sometimes it's better to do a thirsty mind better than a glass of warm milk.
Hilary supporters are in a daze now-- a current blasphemous wave swept through our shipper hearts that goes beyond what was led to believe an honest sacrifice. A callous sadistic twist knocked the boat straight off the dock, straight out of the water, leaving anger in its wake. With light cryptic spoilers, audience is left playing a mind reader guessing game. Other women have long since embodied cat and mouse, toying with male ego to get what they want out of them. Hilary, however, has surprisingly lost her wits. The latest writing regime under headwriter Charles Pratt has her sexing it up with a prosecutor, someone in power. Another horrifying signifier is the choreography of Hilary's downfall scene- it's blatant difference between that and her supposed true love. It is a pure, baseless seduction, a gratuitous act of destroying a character's integrity. She is using her body as an instrument, lowering her standards, lessening her upper hand. Now we have seen women use sexuality before, playing the scheming temptress-- Phyllis is one example. This storyline was to be a means of Hilary's redemption, but fails entirely on the basis that women must go completely all the way-- all the way to shame, a shame that could lead to consequences like pregnancy. Just months ago Hilary bemoaned wanting Devon's child and cowering in disgust at Neil's touch. Now with this horrendous scheme, Hilary has no qualms about initiating this encounter, at Devon's owned hotel no doubt, smiling throughout-- seeming quite proud of easy conquest. Writers have single handedly destroyed character, revving fuel to an even greater hatred, rousing heated passions of those who've despised Hilary since Devon pairing. Yet many see what writers are provoking and want to put this character assassination to swift heed. Have we not seen plenty of African descended women subjected to such detrimental stereotype? To them being nothing more than a body to use and lust over? Hilary Curtis is smart, resourceful, talented, trilingual. Her truest champions do not forget. Yes, characters are always doomed to perform tasks under different writing teams, especially in the soap opera genre. It's important to stay fresh and riveting. They have Hilary transformed into a villainous serial cheating Hottentot Venus trope, a cruel combination of hurtful wanton caricatures. What is this sacrifice for? Why the sex? Who throws away their hearts and bodies in this manner? Only a character of minority background eh? African descendent women have enough earth shattering mental problems placed on us without adding body issues and self worth to the pot. 

Hilary and Devon fans are frustrated with their characters being on once a week, with their seconds of unmoving interaction, and Hilary's unwelcome descent into pigeonhole territory.
That relates to dichotomy of Hilary in comparison to other characters her age. Whilst Hilary is demonized and still receiving "punishment" for her affair, going as far as throwing away a shot of happiness, Abby Newman is springing up like a summer rose for hers. She is being written as a heroine, a naive woman just looking for love in all the improper places. See Summer appeared to be in a saccharin-sweet marriage last year, but according to flashbacks, Abby entered an affair with Summer's now dead husband Austin Travers. Their affair was baseless, coming out of nowhere, just an explosion of lust and neediness. Viewers were subjected to flashbacks galore. More than once a week. Wow! More than once a week people! Yet after finding out, Summer and Abby have a strained relationship. Strained. They still can communicate, act civil without insults being tossed like clawing hellcats. Now Abby is well on her way to taking up with her half-sister's man, Stitch. However, best believe in the end Abby and Victoria will still have a relationship, will still have the hurts dissolved and resume playing genuine siblings. Whereas Hilary has no one. Despite not having a home Devon can talk to his sister Lily or even Cane at times, but Hilary has no friends. No outlet to speak. Rarely has she voiced monologues or openly addressed her private thoughts like other soap opera people do. Last time she even had fantasies were Neil finding out about the affair-- another scheme of muddying Hilary and Devon's love. In the woman's own private mind no less. Lily, another woman of color, cannot resist nicknaming Hilary "cheap whore" and "cockroach," negative labels too sadly familiar to minority. It is a plus to see Angell Conwall return as Leslie. Leslie's father had a relationship with Hilary's mother. That should have started some form of sisterly bond, but for reasons unmentioned nothing has fruited between Hilary and Leslie. No one is asking Young and the Restless to be Girlfriends, but c'mon a girl Hilary's age has no one to gab to? Not buying it! Hilary also at times shared conversation with Sharon Newman. That too has dissolved. Hilary, having ejected the one person who cares about and loves her, is alone, forming despicable plans without talking them through. She said that she's always been on her own. She is a survivor. A lone wolf. Maybe it's not a friend she needs more so than someone to talk to. Before they entered romance, she and Devon did have a kindred camaraderie. It was nice seeing a man and woman be friends. Real nice.
Must you bring up them being black? What does them being black have to do with anything? Why? Why? Why?
Race inflicts fear in the comforting homes of those who don't say it's a problem. We are not supposed to question certain indications or critique further than the writing, but travesties go deeper than the writing. It comes into the viewers mindsets, into their psyches,  flowing into bloodstreams and hearts. Is that why some are quick to judge Victoria Rowell's lawsuit? They snap and band together to call her angry, bitter, and crazy without reading into documented factual truths. Is she really in the wrong for speaking out on racism in soap operas? Is she? After Thursday's American episode, we are outraged and disgusted and have every right to be. In the midst of three episode appearances this month, Hilary goes from two fake bumps into the prosecutor to being in bed with him by third onscreen encounter. This is monstrosity! This is unlawfully obscene! Why must we sit in silence, remain oppressed by the crucial way they have torn apart Hilary, ripped her pairing to shreds? We have to take a stand against this writing in soap opera medium. People laugh and insult the format, the cheesiness in the "stories," but at the same time, soap operas are a remark on wealthy culture, wealthy significance. Why can they not let minorities be a part of that journey? Why can't Young and the Restless let brown skinned lovers play a more pivotal part in its near forty year history? A real part. Not two people having conversations in public places and trysts in hotel rooms. Devon is a billionaire (and yes lots hated a white legacy character leaving her money to him). He deserves a house, a ranch of his own. He can afford it in Wisconsin! And if one character is flogged and flayed alive for cheating why is another not condoned as harshly? How can we not believe race is a part of this equation when writing is lopsided and hypocritical? The PTB go out of their way to offend and burn, fully knowing that despite negative obstacles threatening to drive viewership away, our curiosity for what happens to Devon and Hilary will stay committed in our minds. That is an unfair advantage, dangling our fantasy dreams as though we're bunnies dying for carrots. Other characters have managed to be the definition of a couple, move in together, have children, get married. Devon and Hilary cannot catch a break, cannot even walk up the stairs to boyfriend/girlfriend status. They're being chastised by Neil, who cannot tolerate another marriage loss yet begs forgiveness for killing a fetus. This is Neil, the same Neil who during the huge Valentine's Day plane crash didn't bother looking for his daughter Lily out in the snow. She could have died like that fetus he murdered. Instead he stayed attached to Hilary, knowing about the affair, knowing she didn't love him. Yet apparently he saved everyone's lives for Lily! Also Neil acts as though he's never cheated with a family member's wife before. Say what you will about the writers, consistency is not a noted skill. Ha, ha, and ha.

Bryton and Mishael hitting CBS Soaps In Depth and Soap Opera Digest cover scenes, but their characters Hilary and Devon seem to dive for cover onscreen. It's not the fault of the actors.
Hilary and Devon deserve to be a couple. They are no longer a "dirty little secret." Thursday's episode still hurts. Calculating deliberate character assassination pushes pain on mental and emotional awareness, but that doesn't include giving up on Hilary and Devon. Their love story has just been marred a bit more, desecrated further. It is like standing at an art gallery where admirable eyes are drawn to rare exhibited artifact opening the gaze beyond the scope of the gaze. Suddenly that rare exhibited artifact is violently ripped in front of that hypnotized gaze in a conniving show of immediate astonishing rage. That describes the "Minority Madhouse" at Young and the Restless. Only the grace of a thoughtful writer's pen and inner heart devoid of systematic prejudice can shift noticeable unbalance. Soap opera cuts will not just end at Guiding Light, As The World Turns, All My Children, and One Life To Live. Being at the top doesn't save anyone from reaching the bottom, the mere end. Maybe, just maybe, if Young and the Restless entrusted in Hilary and Devon, go beyond window shopping them to sell magazines, this will ignite the lacking "love in the afternoon" solidarity.
They must do something in order to gain back the viewers' respect-- minorities for one!



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