One of the most underwhelming Oscar shows of all-time sure stood in contrast to perhaps the most significant–if, indeed, the last–of the Barbara Walters Specials. I was on the West Coast so I watched it after the Oscars and, yikes, did I see first hand how much times have changed since she first launched her show in 1981!
In her opening interview, Barbara interviewed Mo’Nique, the Best Supporting Actress winner, who seemed a delightful and strong woman who’d overcome several of life’s challenges to accomplish a state of fame and stardom. Her communication style was fiery and fun.
And then it came time to talk about her marriage, her third, which apparently is strong, trusting and…”open.” I couldn’t believe my ears. Here was a major star bragging about her hairy legs and the freedom in her marriage to have multiple partners. I wasn’t sure what got my attention more: the fact of her revelation, or the fact that Ms. Walters didn’t seem to pursue it or delve deeper. There was no gasp, or “aha,” or “are you kidding me?!”
Imagine if Loretta Lynn (or Brooke Shields?) had come on the ’81 show and discussed such things? Or Barbara Mandrell on the ’85 show? Or Candace Bergen or Sophia Loren or Michelle Pfeiffer?
“Could Sid have sex outside of his marriage with me…yes…that’s not a deal-breaker,” she told Ms. Walter. “That’s not something that would make us say, ‘Pack your things and let’s end the marriage.'”
Barbara did ask her about frequency. “What if it’s 20 times?” proclaimed Mo’Nique. “So what? We’ve been best friends for over 25 years, and we truly know who we are. Oftentimes, people get into marriages and they don’t know who they’re laying next to. I’m very comfortable and secure with my husband.”
“He loves the hairy legs,” she added, “and if Sid likes the hairy legs, there you go…”I’m 42 and I’m very hairy.” (See further interview quotes here.)
After the Oscar parties died down and the buzz started making it through Hollywood, several stars began chiming in with comments of their own, and I couldn’t tell if this was sublime or ridiculous:
From Best Actress nominee Gabourey Sidibe on “Access Hollywood”: “It’s not really news to have an open marriage and open communication marriage.
“The View’s” Sherri Shepherd added “Apparently, you don’t know why I got divorced.”
Several articles discussed the apparent one-way-ness to her Open marriage, as she went out of her way to describe her own fidelity in her marriage, including this thought from Denise Ngo:
“It seems enlightened, but let’s be honest: is it really possible for one partner to be out sexually gallivanting while the other remains blissfully monogamous? And does it not in some way seem like Mo’Nique has traded the comfort of her hairy legs for her husband’s fidelity?”
Well, we’re not in Kansas anymore, and we’re certainly a long way from 1981. What’s left is the important question: have we moved forward or backwards?