“Swingers and Free Love” is the name of the one-hour episode on this Tuesday’s “Hidden in America” series on the Destination America channel. It will feature the family of Sierra Black, whom we’ve written about a bit here on Opening Up.
Black has been involved with several different media pieces over the years (notably an episode of 20/20), and she’s written about the experience on Huffington Post, detailing specifically the ways in which mainstream media tends to erase some aspects of her identity and relationships:
TV makes it look like I have A Husband and A Boyfriend and A Girlfriend (in that order), not a spectrum of relationships with different friends and lovers and partners. There’s no sex in my TV relationships. On TV, I never worry about money. My husband’s Latin American background is erased, as is his complex queer identity.
. . . When 20/20 filmed us, they were here for three days to get seven minutes of final footage. They spent many hours talking to us all as a group and to each of us individually. All the brilliant, witty, insightful things my unmarried lovers and friends said wound up on the cutting room floor; they used only interview material from the two married couples in the group. That sure made those pairings look like primary relationships in a way that the original interviews did not.
They took hours of footage of me with the two women I was romantically linked to, and used only a few seconds of it, while focusing lots of screen time on my lunch date with the charming young man I hang out with. That editing choice sure made me look straight in a way the original filming did not.
. . . . the media is cleverly misrepresenting my life to fit a certain model.
Black spoke to Alan of Poly in the Media about the upcoming “Hidden in America” episode, where she explained:
We filmed it last summer, and it’s been delayed considerably. We liked the producers a lot; they seemed generally respectful and like they “got us”. They asked thoughtful questions, backed off when we corrected them about mistaken assumptions, and took a lot of guidance from us in shaping what they filmed. They spent a long time interviewing us individually, which gave people a chance to say really interesting things, but who knows how that will play on TV or how much of it they’ll use.
. . . I think in some ways it will be very similar to the 20/20 piece; they asked a lot of the same kinds of questions and used some of the same settings. Which was a little disappointing, but maybe unavoidable — there’s a clear story to tell here. My hope is that it will be more reflective of our actual lives and less supporting the kinds of mainstream stereotypes the 20/20 piece played into, but I have no idea how they will have edited the footage they took.
Catch the episode this Tuesday, April 16th on the Destination America Channel. Find the schedule and locate the channel here.