"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.