This article, “Big Love, from the set”, by Stanley Kurtz, is about an HBO domestic drama called Big Love. The reader is driven along a path of intrigue about the ever evolving change in people’s perspective on commonly accepted societal values, and the subtle way in which arguments for acceptance of these changes are delivered. The most fundamental institution, marriage, is in this drama, challenged and given, for all practical purposes, a timeline for survival.
The co-creators, Will Schaffer and Mark Olsen, have used this show as a media to transform culture by portraying the polygamous Hendrickson family as your typical, good, loving neighbors. To all intents and purposes, Kurtz uses the slippery slope argument, that gay marriage can lead to polygamy. Although he does this with a captivating narrative, he however fails to offer any substantive data to back up some of his views or those portrayed in the drama. In his analysis, Kurtz offers various arguments to support the pro-polygamy view portrayed in the drama.
At the very outset, he recounts a position taken by Ginnifer Bowen, one of the main characters. According to her, polygamy is a way out for many women, “and not a problem in and of itself”. Further, as an anchor to the subtle technique used to sway cultural beliefs, he mentions the effect a gay couple had on legal gay marriage after they appeared on a Dutch honeymoon show. The support polygamy enjoys from the American Civil Liberties Union, is also mentioned by Kurtz. Additionally, he cites the position taken by pro-polygamy advocates, whom he says support punishment of individual abuses, and not the institution itself.
Clearly, Kurtz has gone to great lengths to convey the message portrayed in the drama. 2 He has, however, chosen to use aspects of the pro-polygamy view that are very contentious, and for which he does not offer substantive fact. Ginnifer Bowen’s view that polygamy is a solution for many women, for example, is debatable, mainly because it is not supported by any survey or research, and Kurtz should have hesitated before using it in his article, whose readership may include women. The Dutch honeymoon show is another area that Kurtz should have, at the very least, offered some facts and figures.
A clearer picture of the subsequent effect the gay couple’s appearance on the show had on people’s position on gay marriage, would have been quite valuable to most readers. It is not enough to say that their appearance was a turning point for same sex marriage. Kurtz also notes the ACLU’s support of polygamy in principle. I believe that this is the kind of credible source that should not be trivialized. If indeed the ACLU supports polygamy in principle, then the author should have researched for an official quote from the ACLU, citing the date and venue such a position was taken.
Similarly, the position taken by polygamy advocates on the prosecution of individual abuses and not the castigation of the institution itself, would have merited a quote from a credible source. Kurtz has, however, used the slippery slope argument quite convincingly to convey the hidden meaning behind the drama. He views the drama as an avenue to subtly alter cultural beliefs by staging a production that adulates a polygamous family. By quoting Will Scheffer and 3 Mark Olsen, the co-creators of the show, he lends credence to his article.
Their belief in the value of a union, separate from its constitution, is a valuable inclusion in the article because it clearly portrays the whole premise of the drama. It is also obvious from reading the article that Kurtz clearly grasps the intentions of Scheffer and Olsen. He is able to read between the lines and acquaint his readers with the issues involved. The idea that if society can accept gay marriage then it should be able to embrace other types of union, including polygamy and polyamory, is a subject that the author presents quite well.
He mentions Tom Hanks, the executive producer of the show, who believes in using “Big Love” to transform culture. This article is a great service to advocates of a basic, simple way of life, without misconstrued ideas about what is good and bad and who is responsible for telling who. The article educates the reader on the various ways being used by people facing challenging lifestyles and who seek legal acceptance. Using the media to attempt to change people’s beliefs on their culture and customs is dangerous because it works.
The new laws that are pro gay all over the world are evidence of this and if not checked, new legislation may be passed to recognize polyamory relationships. Therefore, the advocates of these lifestyles do not seek to create a movement like Martin Luther King did, they intend to use the drug called media that is consumed by everyone all over the world. This then, is the intent of the drama, as portrayed by Kurtz. 4 Work Cited Kurtz, Stanley. “Big Love, From the Set”. National Review Online. 13 March, 2006. Web. 8 July, 2009.
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