Genie Francis will no longer stand by that rape scene between Luke and Laura Spencer in General Hospital.
As you know, Luke and Laura are considered THE “super couple” in the soap opera world, beloved by many fans of the ABC hit for decades. But their relationship started on a horrific note; in a 1979 episode, Anthony Geary’s character Luke sexually assaulted Laura. Rather than making him face consequences for his actions, the show had the pair fall in love and eventually get married. For decades, the show attempted to play off the awful moment by calling it “seduction.” But without a doubt, this storyline would not fly on television today.
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Now, Genie has slammed the controversial scene — and made it clear she refuses to “justify” what happened anymore. The soap opera legend told reporters during ABC’s Television Critics Association presentation on Wednesday:
“I don’t defend it anymore. You know, as a young kid, at 17, I was told to play rape, and I played it. I didn’t even know what it was. But, at 17, you follow the rules, and you do as you are told, and you aim to please. At 60, I don’t feel the need to defend that anymore.”
She continued, saying how being a part of that storyline has been a “burden” for her:
“I think that the story was inappropriate, I don’t condone it, and it’s been a burden that I’ve had to carry to try to justify that story, and so I’m not doing that anymore. I think, when a woman says ‘No,’ that she should be listened to, and if you replay that scene, you don’t have Laura just saying ‘No.’ You have her screaming ‘No.’”
For those who think this is some sort of exaggeration, here’s the scene (in admittedly terrible quality):
Yeah, no question here. This was intended to be a scene depicting a sexual assault. And it’s horrible.
Looking back on the romance between Luke and Laura, Genie recalled what it was like to film their wedding (above right, inset) in light of the rape scene and said it was an “uncomfortable” moment. She explained:
“I think of what an uncomfortable day that was to shoot. You know, in super-spiked high heels, sinking in the mud. I have got that headdress on, which is pretty, but it was wired, and it was sticking in my head, and I was not allowed to sit down because you couldn’t wrinkle that dress. And that was very, very physically uncomfortable, and everybody was super tense because it was such a big deal. There’s a picture, I think, that they showed where we start to dance. That was after the ceremony, and we started to dance the Virginia reel, and then I actually started to have fun. But, before that, it was a very tough day of shooting.”
Despite the awful storyline, the 60-year-old actress recognized how “big a deal” their character’s wedding was to fans at the time:
“You know, it’s hard to put that in just one sentence. It’s still sinking in to me how big a deal it was. At the time, I knew it was popular, but I never dreamed that we would be celebrating the 60th and still talking about that moment.”
We’re glad to see Genie calling out how terrible the plot between Laura and Luke was so many years later. She’s right, it was inappropriate, and we all know it. It’s great she’s finally able to give those feelings voice.
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If you or someone you know has experienced sexual violence and would like to learn more about resources, consider checking out https://www.rainn.org/resources.
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