then again, maybe not
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March 17, 2006

The more the merrier? More like the more the sadder

I posted a comment over at Feministe, about the new HBO show, Big Love. I was going to write something else there, but I figured I'd think this through at my own damn place. The show is getting a lot of attention - most of it for what it might be rather than what it actually is. The first concern everyone seems to have is that it "glorifies" polygamy. Sounds fair. But I didn't see any of that in the show. No one in the marriage[s] seems very happy. One of the major plotlines of the episode was how unfulfilling the relationship was for everyone involved. But blah blah.

This really made me think about television as a way of communicating things we think of as negative, or immoral. Does television, just by showing something, glorify it? Or, if that's an overstatement, legitimize it? I don't think so. Acknowledging that something exists, and portraying it in a dramatic setting doesn't mean you endorse it. Which made me think of this move from a couple of years ago, The Woodsman, about a child molester who'd recently been released from prison. When the movie came out, there was a lot of controversy about showing sympathy for a pedophile, and humanizing him. Well, damn. Pedophiles are people. Bad, sick people, but people. And when I saw the movie, it didn't make me feel "wow, what a shame this child rapist is having such a rough time of it." I doubt anyone did. Being the lead character in a movie doesn't make you its hero. Which is not to say that some people wouldn't see it that way. But those people are wackos, so fuck 'em.

Since I took the long way around here, let me go back to Big Love. Aside from the trademark HBO reminder that this ain't basic cable y'all! The show is actually a little dull. But that's kind of the point. In a way, this show reminded me a lot of parts of The Sopranos. Sometimes you wake up and can't imagine how your life became what it is. So you do the best you can to keep going. That's nothing to celebrate, but it's nothing to hide, either.

Edited to add: The Woodsman starred Kevin Bacon, who's from Philly, like me. His accent was stupendous. And, I must admit, I was distracted through the whole film trying to figure out what street he lived on. I definitely knew it, but couldn't place it.

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