Sunday, August 22, 2010
Royal Rant: Why Erica Kane Matters
"I'm Erica Kane, Everything I do is breaking news." With this perfectly delivered line (it sounded like a gospel coming out of Susan Lucci's mouth) a character was defined and a path was set. Of course Erica Kane has been around for 40 years, but many of All My Children's writers plain didn't know what to do with the grand diva of daytime. In fact she has been put in some very unbelievable plots including an un-abortion!!!
When I first began watching AMC, Erica was just beginning her long romance with Dimitri Marrick. I was entranced by this Goddess, and I had to learn everything I could about her. As I was watching what was unfolding on screen, I was amazed, she seemed so unreal, yet very grounded, she became my hero, my icon like Madonna.
Ally McBeal brought forth the opinion that feminism was dead back in the late 90's, early 2000's. While Ally was certainly changing peoples perception, I wonder why no one looked at Erica. Ally was clearly based at least loosely on daytimes most popular character. Unable to commit to men, check. Driven to be the best in her field, check. Unwilling to let others walk all over her, check. Ericas presence could also be found on both incarnations of Melrose Place, in Amanda Woodward and Ella Simms. The trio of women shared passion for work, men and destroying anyone who got in their way. And they owe in no small part, their popularity to the trailblazer that came before them.
But manipulating people, and ambition are not the only ways in which Erica Kane proves she is a feminist, and an inspiration. No Erica doesn't sit around and let life happen to her, or let anyone make decisions for her. When she found she was pregnant with husbands Jeff martins baby, she had to decide whether to carry the child to term or abort it. She choose the latter, and lost her marriage but she showed women that they had a choice, and the choice was theirs alone to make.
My research on my new found favorite character continued, and I was in awe. She stood by her decisions no matter how impulsive, or misguided. Rather than just standing by her decisions, she also dealt with the fall out with aplomb. I began to think like her, and why not she was rich, successful and loved by millions. Of course I realized she was just a fictional character but she possessed the same qualities as Madonna, someone who I looked up to also.
When I was 15/16 my younger sister was in a bit of a bad state, and my parents focus was on her. Even then I wanted attention, and had to figure out how to get the focus shifted back to me. I was deep in the closet, alternating between being in denial and embracing my sexual orientation so I briefly considered coming out, then decided it wasn't a good idea. I watched AMC as I always did, and found myself thinking, well Erica is hooked on pills and alcohol, I should get hooked on something too. Not the wisest line of thinking to be sure, looking back I realize how dumb it was. I looked through the medical cabinets and found some Nyquil. Yes Nyquil, I decided to go full force into my new addiction. I waited, and waited for someone to say something to me, nothing. Then I realized they couldn't say anything to me because I spent my time at school, or work. Then I thought well if I fall asleep in class the teacher will call and they will be forced to pay attention to me. Still nothing. I decided my first foray into Erica-dom was a failure. Years later when I told my mom what I had done, she sighed and said she knew, she couldn't confront me because when she and my stepdad noticed it, I was sleeping.
The next time my and Ericas story would intersect would be because of my sexuality. This time though I would be cast in the role of her daughter Bianca. Binks (as she is called) was starting to come out, as was I. Most of my friends new, and I even had a love interest. I watched with intrigue as person after person found out that Bianca was gay, and I wondered what Ericas reaction would be, I prayed it would be positive, as if it was I would tell my mom. When the day finally came, I watched with bated breath. Bianca finally said the words to her mom, and I watched as Erica didn't take the news well. Damn I thought I can not tell my mom now. There was no way I could deal with it, I was already under tremendous stress with school, work, disliking my moms new boyfriend, (my stepdad had died) plus the fall out from coming out at school (which was thankfully none). I continued ot watch and as Erica seemingly embraced Bianca, I decided it was go time, and I told my mom.(I will tell the whole coming out story another time). Then Erica paid Biancas friend/love interest $10,000 to get out of town. I was struck by panic and went through my moms checkbook to see if she had that kind of money to throw around. Thankfully she didn't.
Erica's influence on fictional characters, and real people including myself, is why she has become the icon that she is today. No other character, male or female has come close to the influence that Erica has enjoyed for over 40 years. Here's hoping she is around for another 40 years, Long Live Erica Kane!!!!