(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — With “One Life to Live’s” bullying storyline now kicking into high gear, just how effective has it been so far?
Anyone who has seen the latest “One Life” promo, with a desperate Shane seeking to escape the torment of being bullied by a classmate, knows that this storyline is certainly taking on rather realistic tone (I have included a different version of the promo at the end of this column). It’s often said that soaps imitate life, and while, in reality, that isn’t always the case, what with mind-controlling brain chips, mad scientists, space aliens, secret underground cities, and time travel, the statement is quite accurate in this particular case. With a child becoming the victim of a bully every seven minutes, “One Life to Live” could not have chosen a better time to launch this much-needed storyline.
According to statistics, 30% of teenagers in grades 6-10 are involved in bullying — either as a bully, a victim, or both, and 1 in 4 kids in this country are bullied at one time or another in their lives. On the flip side, 1 in 3 kids admit to having bullied a peer at least once. But perhaps the most startling statistic involves a recent survey, which found that 77% of the children who responded admitted that they been bullied either mentally, verbally, or physically by someone, and that 14% had experienced a severe reaction to the abuse they suffered at the hands of their peers.
With numbers like that, I applaud “One Life to Live” for taking the initiative and deciding to do a storyline about bullying. After all, this is the same soap that has tackled many controversial and topical issues in the past, including interracial relationships, homophobia, gay marriage, breast cancer, heart disease, mental illness, gang rape, drug abuse, and menopause, just to name a few. I see nothing wrong with them taking a firm stance on this particular issue as well, just as long as do it the right way. Done correctly, this storyline can reach a lot of people and help them to understand the depth of the problem and how best to deal with it when and if it happens to you or your family. And, while I haven’t always had faith in “OLTL’s” ability to successfully pull-off a realistic depiction of real-life events with regards to socially relevant storylines, in this case I feel obliged to give them the benefit of the doubt.
In a recent interview with Soap Opera Digest, Austin Williams, who plays bullying victim Shane Morasco on “OLTL,” summed it up perfectly when he said that “It’s really hard to play, because it’s sad to go to that place where everyone just hates you. On the other side, it’s really fun knowing that this really can make a difference in some people’s lives.” Truer words were never spoken. Williams’ comments convey what those who have been bullied go through everyday. They constantly live in fear no matter where they go. They skip school, refuse to attend social events, and generally try to avoid contact with other kids at all costs. However, they can’t always hide from their problems, especially when their parents, teachers, and others become aware of the situation. Eventually, they turn to desperate measures to escape the pain because they feel too embarrassed and humiliated to ask for help or tell confide in anyone — even their own parents, for fear they wouldn’t understand.
In that same interview, “One Life to Live” Head Writer Ron Carlivati echos a similar sentiment while explaining why Shane has been keeping his parents in the dark about what he has been going through. “He’s scared, he’s embarrassed and he thinks that getting the parents involved is going to make it worse. That’s what does happen with a lot of these kids. They don’t think that they can tell anybody, so they kind of take it and put up with it.”
Carlivati also points out why, as with Shane, there is always a particular reason why someone is bullied. “We don’t ever see the origin; where it began. It’s very typical of what does happen: [Bullies] just see a kid that’s an easy target, or there’s the kid that’s sitting on the sidelines ’cause he can’t play in the basketball game, or he doesn’t have the latest, coolest sneakers.”
The bully in case is Jack Manning (Andrew Trischitta), who “seems like the leader, but in some ways, Jack is a little bit of a follower and just wanting to be part of that popular crowd — as much as he seems like the ringleader,” says Carlivati. While Jack is trying to gain acceptance from his peers for being a tough guy, he is actually insecure about his own identity and feels the only way he can truly feel superior is to pick on those who are smaller, weaker, or different from him. Eventually, however, I’m sure he will start to feel guilty about what he’s done and ultimately seek forgiveness. And that is starting to come across on screen where, in recent scenes, you can tell that Jack is starting to suffer a bit of a guilty conscience, however small it may be at this point. However, the road of redemption will be a long one, because Jack doesn’t seem ready to play nice with Shane anytime soon.
So again, I am going to give “One Life to Live” the benefit of the doubt on this one. As someone who majored in education, I have seen first hand the dangers of bullying in schools and honestly believe that the show is trying to make a difference with this storyline, and think that they will succeed. At least I hope so anyway. If it can make the difference in at least one person’s life, then it will have all been worth it in my opinion.
Moving on, congratulations to “CBRVA,” who correctly identified last time’s mystery “OLTL” celebrity guest star, which was “Simon & Simon” star Jameson Parker.
In case you missed the clues, here they are:
Simon says that this actor who co-starred in a popular ’80s CBS primetime action drama played a cad on “One Life to Live” in the late 1970s.
Now it’s time to play another round of “Llanview, Who Am I?,” a new feature where you have to use the clues to figure out the identity of some mystery future celebrity from “OLTL’s” past. See if you can figure it out. Good luck!!!
Before going ‘Brown’ and finding her ‘Hope,’ this actress played a preppy Llanview socialite back in the 1980s.
So who is this mystery group from the past? I’ll have the answers in the April 15th edition of My View of Llanview. And don’t forget to check out my Twitter page for all the latest “OLTL” news and information at SON.
Now, before I wrap up this column, I’m going to look into my crystal ball and give you a quick sneak peek at a few things coming up a few weeks down the road. These are for the week of April 18th. A surprising confession is made. Someone is attacked. One woman has a decision to make. And an unlikely pair team up to get what they want.
Well that’s concludes yet another column. Hope everyone is enjoying the beautiful spring weather. Take care and stay safe. And until next time remember, we only have “One Life to Live”…