I live in a weird part of the world. I juggle convictions and morals in an environment that often seems incompatible with them. I struggle with what to say and how to say it and what I’m allowed to say. Even with its weirdness, however, I still value the confidentiality of this entertainment business and respect the need to keep bits of information I’ve gathered here and there to myself. Often my random knowledge wouldn’t really matter to anyone else, but every once in a while I’ve been privy to things that give me a different perspective of an issue that the rest of the world is not able to see.
I also try really hard not to jump on “trending” bandwagons and spout off opinions on a topic just because I think it’ll get me more blog hits or social media follows. However, I’ve been thinking about a particular current event A LOT lately, and after a conversation with KP last weekend, I feel that maybe it’s worth me sharing about. Yes, considering it happened like a month ago, I realize this is Very Old News by now, but I don’t care. See the first sentence of this paragraph. I’m sharing now. Here goes:
You know the whole Ashely Madison thing? Where all the user email addresses of the infidelity website were hacked and released? Of course you do; it was all over the news and the topic of many articles and blog posts and vitriol. Well, what you don’t know is that KP and I have a history with Ashley Madison. Ok, well, KP has the history – but as his wife and as it’s something we’ve discussed in depth, I have a history with it too.
I know where you think I’m going with this. Yes, I talk openly about marriage troubles in this blog – but I’m not going where you think I am. Neither KP nor I have ever been Ashely Madison users. That is not one of the things we struggle with in our relationship, though I know it is something that some marriages do in fact struggle with.
Our history is a bit different, though I know we will still be judged by some for it, and this is the reason I’m laying it out here for people to know. See, three years ago, KP’s agent put him in contact with a guy named Noel Biderman. Noel wanted to create a tv show centered around the world of a marital cheating website he owned named Ashely Madison. Noel didn’t have a specific idea for what the show would be about, but wanted to entertain suggestions. I don’t know how many other writers Noel met with before KP, but, apparently, Noel liked KP’s vision the best and KP “got the job” (which is in quotes because of course you only get paid if it sells).
So in the following months, KP, Noel, and a producer put together a pitch and drafted a pilot script and had multiple pitch meetings at various networks. But at the time no one ended up buying the Ashley Madison TV Show and so everyone went their own their way and the story and show, like most things in this town, were banished instead into the Annals of The Hollywood Never-Were.
But now fast forward to three years later and Ashely Madison has now been all over the news. Even if you didn’t know what the website was beforehand, now everyone knows about it. And everyone has an opinion about it. And spouses’ infidelities have been found out and possibly thousands of marriages have been affected and hurt by all of this.
And this is not an insignificant thing. Not at all.
And the fact that there was once a time where KP – my own husband – could have helped create a television show that would have only helped bring awareness to this cheating site is not an insignificant thing either.
So. Now it’s time for the enormous elephant in the room. Knowing the stance I’ve taken on this blog in support of strong, committed marriages, how in the world could I have ever supported the idea of my husband working in conjunction with a website that promotes cheating on your spouse??
This is not an insignificant question either.
And it’s one I must answer.
First, let me tell you about KP’s idea for the show and why he was hired:
It was to be an “R-rated”, half-hour romantic workplace comedy set at the corporate offices of the infamous Ashley Madison company. A conservative and mostly-happily married husband and wife were to be the main characters, each taking jobs in different departments of the company. Each day their ideas of love and 12 year marriage were to be tested, strengthened and vindicated. However, just because they worked at Ashley Madison didn’t mean that they shared the same values; it was just their job.
In fact, the #1 rule, and I suppose you could say the “kicker”, of the show is that the main couple – no matter how tempted or tested – would never give in and have an extra-marital affair. Never. Even being surrounded day in and day out by a world of infidelity, they would choose to never give into it for themselves.
Sure, there’d be some sex scenes in the show. There would also be a lot of awkwardness and humor. There’d be no getting around that aspect.
But what there also would have been, standing in the center of it all, is an example of a strong marriage trying to make it work against all odds. Maybe their fictional existence would make a difference in the grand scheme of things in the world, maybe they wouldn’t. But at least they’d be an example of a marriage that did not give in to what modern culture implies is normal.
Does it say anything about Noel, the creator of Ashley Madison, that this is the direction he wanted to take the tv show? Why did he decide to work with KP instead of any of the other writers who could have had a completely different take of the show which wouldn’t include any hint of redeeming marriage monogamy? I have no idea. No idea. All I know is what happened.
This whole Ashley Madison show thing came up during a time in which mine and KP’s own marriage was struggling a bit and we were fighting a lot. So though it perhaps may seem strange – it was by understanding KP’s vision for the show that I was able to see how much he still valued marriage, even if he wasn’t currently showing that to me outwardly. Not just marriage in general, but our marriage in specific, and it gave me the strength to continue having hope that our marriage could somehow someday improve.
Realizing how significant of an opportunity this show could be, I fully supported my husband in the possibility of its creation.
So I guess you could say that the idea of Ashley Madison – in a very long, winding, roundabout way – actually helped do good for my marriage.
Several weeks ago, when KP and I first heard about the data breach and potential releasing of private user names, you know what one of our first thoughts was? This is all just a big publicity stunt for Ashley Madison.
But after the leak of all the user names, and Noel stepping down (and being found to have had his own affairs through the site), and after several prominent leaders and public figures had their reputations tarnished after being outed, KP and I assumed it must, in fact, be real.
And then I read this: Ashley Madison Say Its Business is Still Growing. I’m not saying that all of this could or could not have been one a huge publicity stunt. Realistically, it probably wasn’t; I can’t imagine that someone would have actually orchestrated this entire thing. BUT, the fact of the matter remains that because of this data breach, there are now millions of people who beforehand didn’t know what Ashley Madison was and they now do. Sure, KP’s idea for the tv show would have done the same as far as awareness of the site – but at least KP attempted to balance the bad in the world by also showcasing an example of the good.
The Ashley Madison website helps facilitate extra-marital affairs. Many people (perhaps rightly so) are repulsed by the idea of such a website. BUT – hacking into Ashley Madison, sharing user information, and shaming those who’ve been unfaithful to their spouses is not going to stop infidelity from happening either. In fact, I would almost suggest that the publicity of it all, negative though it may be, only further promoted and normalized the idea of infidelity.
Instead of just focusing on the bad Ashley Madison did for marriages, and how infidelity can hurt marriages – I propose that we as a society ALSO show how marriages can be healed after infidelity. Let’s show couples that do not give in to infidelity even though it appears to be happening all around them. Let’s show WHY remaining faithful to one’s spouse is best for a relationship.
Yes, Ashley Madison exists.
Yes, KP once had an opportunity to take that existence, further its awareness, yet attempt to bring about some good through it as well.
No, there will never be a way for KP to know if what could have been, would have been.
But all I know is that we’ll never do any good in the world if we shy away from the bad and pretend it exists only if/when we want to shame it.
So there you have it. Our history with Ashley Madison.
KP and I live in a weird world but try to have a normal marriage.
We do what we can with what we have.