Season 2, Episode 2
“Love is the best, most insidious, most effective instrument of social repression.” - Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Most war movies include a scene in which a husband, fighting a faceless enemy, talks to, or in some way pines for, a wife holding a baby. This scene humanizes the husband, and reminds the audience what’s at stake should this amorphous enemy win: the dream of the straight nuclear family.
Soap operas stay home, to focus on that family unit, finding its conflict, as critic Laura Mulvey says, “not between enemies, but between people tied by blood or love.” Maybe life’s great drama is not how freedom is supposedly ‘saved’ by killing strangers, but, as director Todd Haynes says, how “love and family limit our freedoms.” The real enemy is never outside the community, but within.
Soap fans often age with their favorite characters. Steffy is not only like me, but we’re the same age and always will be the same age, unless Steffy grows faster...
In As the World Turns, character Tom Hughes was born in 1961. By 1970, he had been to college and fought in the Vietnam War.
In The Young and The Restless, Billy Abbott was born in 1993, but was age 16 by 1999. Mimi Torchin of Soap Opera Weekly named this phenomenon: SORAS, an acronym for Soap Opera Rapid Aging Syndrome, defined loosely as accelerating the age of a child off camera until they’re of love triangle age.
But aren’t babies the nexus of innocent possibility? How could soaps omit parenthood? Queer theorist Lee Edelman might say the majority of the straight world has already succumbed to or is built around SORAS, having babies “not…to enable change, but to perpetuate sameness, turning back time to ensure repetition.”
Once Tom Hughes reached 30, around roughly age 10, he parked there for twenty years, not hitting his 40s until the 1990s. One’s 30s are prime love triangle time.
Soaps reveal that the core of having children was never about creating a brighter future; it’s about fucking. Fucking to make babies to do more fucking. A world fast-forwarding its hope to watch that hope slip on the same banana peel.
Painted Dreams is a darkly comic and empathetic queering of soap opera history that explores the cliches and contradictions of gender. Disney figurines and Proctor&Gamble products commingle, altering each other’s meanings, while the series' voiceover imagines what would happen if, instead of traveling the world, the narrator of Chris Marker’s Sans Soleil stayed home and watched All My Children. Lush in domestic ooze, Painted Dreams shuffles ‘masculine,’ ‘feminine,’ ‘real,’ ‘fake’ until they become indistinguishable and androgynous.
Full Cast: Stella Corso, Emily Hunerwadel, Ish Klein, Sarah Lanzillotta, Andrew McAlpine, Sarah Beth McAlpine, Vick Quezada, Caroline Raynor, Caroline Belle Stewart, Jonathan Volk
Music by Jon Ruseski
Written & Directed by Patrick Bella Gone
Produced with support from Northampton Media
Patrick Bella Gone is an artist raised in central Pennsylvania. Their work investigates the soft language of cultural objects, often staging the confrontations of chosen and inherited identities. Gone's recent performance & video work has appeared at the Queens Museum, Bronx Academy of Art & Dance, AS220, & Dixon Place. They are a 2017 MassMOCA Assets for Artists Fellow & the author of The Impersonators (Factory Hollow Press, 2017).