While The Australian reported late last week that a lesbian kiss had been “muted” from an upcoming scene on Home And Away, Bevan Lee, Head of Creative Drama and Development at Channel Seven, has confirmed that the story is in fact false, and that the kiss will air tonight as planned.
“Firstly, we screened a kiss between two female characters two weeks ago, there’s tonight’s kiss and there’ll be another one in a few episodes time. I think that clearly shows that Channel Seven is not backing away from these kinds of stories,” Lee told Same Same.
“The lesbian story is a six week long story about the attraction of lesbian Joey for the ostensibly straight policeman, Charlie Buckton. It deals with, and has dealt with for the last three weeks, Charlie’s confusion as she finds herself attracted to Joey after she has professional dealings with her.
“The kiss The Australian mentioned in their article is not the kiss that [screens] tonight – it is from an upcoming episode, where Charlie faces her feelings for Joey and they kiss. The kiss, as played, was two part. A very gentle, loving, sensual, tender kiss from which the two women pull back and then there’s another, more lusty follow up. There was a lot of discussion, artistic and not censorish, about where to finish the scene. We finally settled on the conclusion of the warmer, intimate kiss and not the more lusty follow through because we felt it was more in keeping with Charlie getting there by degrees rather than one kiss making her comfortable straight away with the full on pash.
“I think the version that airs is much truer to the tone of the build up to the moment over the last few weeks. The decision taken was artistic and had nothing to do with running from the conservative right. This work was done before the article about the lesbian story and conservative reaction to it even broke in the Herald Sun and on Today Tonight.
“The thing that saddens me, as a gay writer, is that a beautiful six week story has been reduced to a facile argument about six missing seconds of screen time and that the bulk of the commentators, both conservative and liberal, are making pronouncements on story material they know nothing of. We long for the day when we can run a story like this and they can just play in the context of the show.
“All this brouhaha has been about something that has not even aired yet. Once viewers watch the scenes they will agree that we in no way underservice the truth of the story or of the kiss as the story demands. And the way the story proceeds past this point, in the next few weeks, in no way shies away from a dignified and honest treatment of the lesbian relationship.
“I can only assume The Australian heard in some way of the second part of the kiss being removed and leapt to a paranoid conclusion in which the big bad Network were trampling over the rights of the GLBT community. [If only] they were always so zealous in their concern for us over issues like our civil rights.
“The shows ratings have definitely dipped over the last few weeks, but it cannot be proven to be attributable to this story. There could be many factors involved. But this is irrelevant, as none of our choices at Seven in this matter have been ratings driven. How could they be? The final shape of the kiss scene was determined and locked off in the weeks prior to the ratings dip. People don’t realise that this is a 7 o’clock time slot, and if this was a ratings grab there are oodles of ways we could do that. This negative press just undoes every bit of hard work that has been put in – what is a beautiful lesbian story line has now been hi-jacked by interest groups, and it will now make it harder for us to do this in future.
“The Australian got this story wrong on so many levels and the liberal sheep followed behind bleating with alarm. It is amusing and ironic that they did just what they so frequently accuse the conservatives of doing, going off half cocked before they even view the material they’re commenting on. And I make this criticism as a committed liberal, which makes me even sadder about the behaviour I have just witnessed.”
Journalist Amanda Meade, from The Australian, however has told Same Same that she still stands by her story.
“The facts are there was a more passionate kiss which was cut out and a tamer one was left in,” says Meade. “It has not gone to air yet. What Lee said is that his decision to cut the more passionate kiss was made independently of any media storm – and before Today Tonight and The Herald Sun did the story. My information is that they went back and re-edited the scene after the stories came out.”
Melbourne newspaper The Age reports that while hundreds of protesters were expected to gather at Federation Square tonight at 7pm, only about 20 showed up.