What does the online response to that same-sex kiss on Coronation Street tell us about how far we have come and how far we have yet to go? Hadley discusses.
When one Coronation Street viewer tweeted his thoughts about that same-sex kiss, the internet was quick to remind him that we are in fact living in 2016. The tweet that read “@itvcorrie Homosexual scenes in #Corrie tonight were sickening. Most now tolerate this practice but we don’t need it rammed down our throats” sparked fury amongst the vast majority of social media users. And with only 170 of the millions of people who tuned into the show making a complaint to Ofcom, we can rest assured that, in terms of the viewers of Coronation Street, it is only a minority that still need some educating.
Perhaps what’s even more shocking is that the scene aired was nothing new. This isn’t the first same-sex kiss that we’ve seen on the soap, nor is it the first time that people have tweeted negative comments about gay storylines. So why has this provoked such a reaction? Every day, we read comments online that are aimed at either ourselves or somebody else that are hurtful, provocative or offensive. I felt slightly reassured that the tweets posted by this particular user have been highlighted. It’s about time that we all started to challenge the discriminatory language used by some on social media, as it is far too often left unopposed.
Furthermore, the largely unfavourable response to these comments goes some way to demonstrating the society we’re starting to carve out; a society that is accepting of others, which is not subservient to discrimination. Yes, this is an isolated incident and there are far too many other acts of discrimination that are not being highlighted in this way, but it certainly sends out a message to the viewers of Coronation Street.
Television is a powerful tool when it comes to educating people about society. Shows like Coronation Street are able to penetrate areas of the country where gay people are invisible. People may be aware of gay people, but unaware that they are able to live normal, happy lives. Although Coronation Street isn’t telling the stories of real people in the way that a documentary does, it still provides viewers with a view of somebody else’s life and attempts to educate them at the same time. For somebody growing up in a small village, with no lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans role models, the storylines in soaps like Coronation Street provide them with something to latch onto. They also stimulate conversations about LGBTQ+ issues, which may otherwise not take place.
Two people kissing, either on-screen of off-screen, isn’t a big deal. In fact, the kiss in question had been recreated thousands of times before, just with people of the opposite sex. So if ever there was a way of demonstrating inequality between gay people and their heterosexual neighbours, this may be a good starting point. If that kiss had been between a man and a woman, would we be reading comments about how ‘sickening’ it was? It is vital that soap operas continue to tell the stories of different people in our society. Not only will this educate viewers, but it brings these issues into our everyday dialogues, which can only be a positive step in the right direction.
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