The sexual revolution always seems to have another frontier. Indeed, the very idea of a “revolution” would be negated were there no frontiers to conquer. So deeper, ever deeper, we plumb the depths. Look at television. Every new frontier is just another titillating, initially shocking plot for a fictional or “reality” show, until there's a “new normal” and the novelty and naughtiness wears off.
Wash, rinse, repeat.
The latest example is a brand-new show on the TLC cable network called “Sister Wives,” all about a likeable, long-haired Utah man named Kody Brown and his three wives and 13 children. But this isn't enough drama for a “reality” show, so the plot twist has Brown taking on a fourth wife with three of her own kids from a previous marriage.
We've gone down a very strange path from “The Brady Bunch.”
HBO started the normalization of polygamy with its drama “Big Love,” but TLC is openly pushing for the walls of judgment to come falling down. Its slogan for the show is “Rethink love. Rethink marriage. Rethink family reality.” In the first promo, one of the wives argues “I think we're normal, and I go out and go, 'oh yeah, I can't tell everybody about my normal family.'” Kody Brown insists “If you're good with one marriage, they figure you'll be good with two. I hope they think I'll be good with four.”
They're not kidding. Off camera, there's more religion and politics at work. Kody Brown and his wives are in fact “fundamentalist Mormons” who have been political activists to legalize polygamy in Utah. The name of their lobbying group is Principle Voices. The group promotes a book called “Jesus Was Married,” in which the disciples Martha and Mary, as well as Mary Magdalene, were all married to Jesus. It's “The DaVinci Code” on Viagra.
This isn't the only TLC show to promote the “poly” – yup, the hip new word -- lifestyle. They also aired a series this summer called “Strange Sex,” which also had a plot about “polyamory,” which is described as “consensual, responsible non-monogamy.” TLC started as The Learning Channel; it's fast becoming The Libertine Channel.
The TLC show promoted a woman named Jaiya lives with two men, having a baby with one of them. The bloggers at Polyamorous Percolations were delighted by its favorable spin: “the very picture of a respectful, insightful, beautiful poly documentary.” A Chicago Tribune critic explained it “definitely aims to establish a sense of normalcy to an otherwise hard-to-understand situation” and “offers a great deal of education about human sexuality.”
We're never being indoctrinated, just “educated.” The abnormal is replaced by “a sense of normalcy.”
Jaiya also appeared on “The Joy Behar Show” on CNN Headline News on August 27 to promote her revolving-bedroom-door lifestyle: “It's great to have both, to be able to morph in and out of lots of different relationships.” She's not kidding. Her more reluctant partner asks her how many boyfriends she wants. Her motto, she declares, is “If a man can love five persons, he should love five. If a man can love fifty, he should love fifty. If a man can love five hundred, he should love five hundred. Love is so rare that the more you can spread it the better.” (And CNN wonders how it lost the title of “most trusted name in news.”)
For the more conventional polyester-Seventies “open marriage” types, there's a new adultery-promoting movie called “The Freebie,” in which it's suggested the best way to spice up a marriage is a “free pass” for a one-night stand. September 17 was dubbed “National Freebie Day” and the movie has a website at Untietheknot.com. The site offers free-pass “Dos and Don'ts,” lists the “Top Five Items You Must Have on Your Special Night” (don't ask), and even insists “It's Time to Start Planning,” and links to New York's Craigslist ads for “Casual Encounters” so you can “find a random partner.”
Throughout this sudden avalanche of polygamy propaganda, a question persists: Where is the market demand for this? What significant segment of the vast American tapestry is being served by this message?
This is Hollywood blazing a trail because it wants to tear down the family, for once and for all. The barrage of libertine entertainment should remind us that it's become countercultural to champion the Judeo-Christian tradition. As strange as it may sound, the advocates of tradition can’t rest on their laurels. Marriage as we’ve always known it has to be not just revered, but saved.