Polyamory in the News!
. . . by Alan M.

March 31, 2009

Creating Poly Culture: a British soap, Hollywood, webcomics, and Minx's strategic vision

How often, since discovering poly, have you been struck by movies, books and legends where the whole stupid drama would be so not there if people just grasped the concept? From the Iliad to Shakespeare to Italian opera to The Corpse Bride — why can't people just be more evolved, dammit? So much of our culture-mythos would melt away in the morning sun.

Of course bushels of new drama (and comedy) would take its place. But at least it wouldn't be so hackneyed.

Woody Allen has always mined this territory (for instance in last year's Vicky Christina Barcelona). Now, more drama writers may be starting to see the possibilities. From England, Helen M. writes that the teen soap opera "Hollyoaks" has taken an unexpected twist. The plot was going along ordinary lines about a couple both cheating on each other with the same man. "Now," writes Helen, "it has turned into a proper 'open relationship', as they are calling it, between all three. There are catch-up clips here: tinyurl.com/crvr2j."

A user comment to episode 20: "Thank god i found this..... thank you... i didn't know that this could happen".

Okay, I'll make a prediction: Hollywood won't be far behind.

At Loving More's Poly Living Conference outside Philadelphia last month, Reid Mihalko provided some insider gossip about this. Reid writes TV screenplays and knows that crowd. He co-created a pilot show of his own for a comedy/drama series called "Polly and Marie" (say it fast — get it?), and he said "HBO almost bought" it. (Watch the trailer.) "There's a lot of interest in getting this [topic] on TV," he said, "but nobody is quite biting, because nobody knows if the advertisers will want it. It's kind of happening, but you don't see it yet, because it's not on the air yet."

When'll be the tipping point? The keynote speaker at Poly Living was Cunning Minx of the Polyamory Weekly podcast, and she made an astute point. She told the crowd of about 100 that it's time for the poly-awareness movement to start shifting focus: from education — explaining polyamory to people who've never heard of it — to culture-building — creating recognizable pop images of the polyfolk-world that represent us well, that we can be proud of, and that will appear in people's minds when they think of us.

Right now, she said, what pops into people's minds when they hear the word "polyamory" is maybe swingers at parties, or Mormon polygamists in the desert, or mostly a blank-slate question mark. We need to create our public image.

Think of the images in your mind when you hear "accountant," or "hippie," or "cowboy." If we don't create our own culture-images — the ones that pop into people's heads when they hear the word — outsiders are surely going to do it for us.

How do we do this? We can create our own stories, art, and music. "Twitter. Blog. Podcast," said Minx. "We need novels, music, movies. We need to show our poly culture. Let's show what poly culture is like. This is our next step." We can inspire the larger culture industry, such as the people who produced the new play All My Love, the new webseries "Family", even webcomics like "Fans" (here's a recent page).

But the biggest thing that any of us can do, wherever we are, is (in the words of Goddess of Java), "Be a credit to your kink". Model what good poly people are about. Hell, model what good relationship people are about. Be kind, honest, ethical, self-aware, self-disclosing, bold, generous, caring. Display integrity. Expect integrity in others. As Emerson said, "character is everything." This is how the world is ultimately going to judge us, and how poly culture will rise or fall.

You can listen to Minx's talk while watching her PowerPoint.


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gotta say I'm surprised at the number of faces I recognized in Polly & Marie...

March 31, 2009 11:46 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hear, hear! I'm all for this.

March 31, 2009 12:21 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Oh, forgot to mention that I added a "Polyamory" page to TV Tropes. I'm hoping others can come up with more examples to put up there!


March 31, 2009 12:40 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Thanks for framing this call to action better than I did, Alan. Great observations--here's hoping the next Polly & Marie DOES make it to air!

March 31, 2009 2:56 PM  
Blogger Anita Wagner Illig said...

Most excellent, Alan - major cable network is seeking a poly family with children to feature on a reality series. I wish they'd go for a Polly and Marie sort of show instead - much easier to make that happen.

March 31, 2009 6:27 PM  
Anonymous Camile said...

I first began to think that it was okay to be more open about being poly both because of sites like this and the LJ polyamory group. I became even more comfortable when I saw authors like Laurell K.Hailton and Emma Holly present (mostly positive) examples of non-monogamous relationships in their work. Most of the open relationships I had seen before then were always either two siblings deciding to share a third person, or a couple having a brief fling before deciding that monogamy was the way to be.

I'm hoping that with my own contributions to Creative Loafing's Sex&Love site and my fiction writing (I will get over this writer's block), I can do my little part as well.

April 01, 2009 7:07 PM  
Blogger Cygnus MacLlyr said...

Hi, folks! Found this site via google after posting about the topic (just an opine) not three hours ago.

haven't figured out the "links to this post" feature( fledgeling blogger and computer dude...) but will post your site @ the bottom of my post, if that's ok...

Thanks! See ya again!


April 11, 2009 7:32 PM  
Blogger liminalD said...

I absolutely agree that we need to resist Hollywood using us as just another way to push people's buttons, and we should reject our identities and lifestyles being defined by others, I'm just a bit dubious about whether we CAN create a fair and representative Poly identity, given the huge diversity of Poly families and relationships.

Being Poly means so many different things to so many different people - as such I think it's far more likely that we will be characterised by the rejection of norms than by affirmation of any particular values :/

April 19, 2009 1:09 AM  
Anonymous Brad Fallon said...

When have you heard a character farting in a British Soap Opera?

March 15, 2011 12:37 PM  

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