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Episode 17 - Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid

posted Oct 15, 2016, 10:11 AM by Joreth InnKeeper   [ updated Mar 11, 2017, 3:23 PM ]

Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid (1969) 
www.imdb.com/title/tt0064115/ - Internet Movie Data Base
www.netflix.com/title/26308213 - Netflix
www.amazon.com/Butch-Cassidy-Sundance-Two-Disc-Collectors/dp/B000EXDS5M/ - Amazon

This is a difficult movie for me to categorize. First of all, it's a western all about Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. But it's not a typical Western either. Not being very familiar with the actual history (or legends) about them, I couldn't tell you how historically "accurate" the movie is, but it was an enjoyable movie. The characters are gruff old Western bank robbers. They're bad guys but they're likable bad guys. The difficulty I have is the poly content.  Now, keep in mind that this movie is first and foremost, a western.  The poly story line is not the main focus of the story, although it takes place for more or less half the movie, so if you watch it, go into it with that perspective. 

First, we see Butch and Sundance hanging out at a brothel, and there was no jealousy or weirdness about sharing women. So I thought "a movie about not getting jealous over prostitutes is NOT about polyamory". But that wasn't where the poly story was. Next, we discover that Sundance has actually hooked up with a schoolmarm in his version of a long-term relationship. He shows up when he shows up, but they obviously have real feelings for each other and it's not just a sexual release. Sundance admires and likes Etta as a person, and Etta clearly is strongly attached to Sundance.  Sorta like how I do relationships, actually.

The poly part comes because of her feelings for Butch. But that's also where the question comes in.

In the second main scene with Etta, after she has spent a night with Sundance, Butch comes riding up on a new bicycle and tempts her outside for a romantic and touching bike ride. Afterwards, Etta asks him a loaded question ... [inserted movie clip]  So clearly, there are also very strong romantic feelings between Etta and Butch. But Etta does not consider it to be a "relationship" and they do not have a sexual relationship at all.

This is one of those relationships that lives on the very fuzzy borders of the definition of polyamory. On the one hand, Etta establishes that her relationship with Sundance is a clear-cut case of a romantic relationship, what with their feelings for each other and their sexual activity and all. She appears to have similar feelings for Butch, but she does not acknowledge a romantic relationship with him, possibly because of the lack of sexual activity.

But as I said in my review of Carrington, many polys acknowledge the existence of NSSO or Non Sexual Significant Other relationships. The three of them take off together across the country and into South America where they live as a more or less happy threesome, just without any sex between Etta and Butch. Is it poly if Butch always sleeps alone but is part of the same household?

Since I have titled my list "Poly-ISH Movies", I think I'll include this movie on the list, but I have mixed feelings about it. I think it differs from Carrington in that the non-sexual partners in Carrington acknowledged a family and even a romantic bond with each other, but that bond is not acknowledged by all in this movie. I think that's what makes the difference to me, so I don't know that I would classify this as a poly movie. But it has so many other elements of a poly family, that I don't think I can really criticize someone who disagrees with me and thinks that it IS a poly movie.

So, in a rare move for me, I think I'll add it to the list so that people can see it, but I'm going to leave it up to you all to decide for yourselves if this is a poly movie or not without me giving a declarative statement about whether it is or is not a poly movie. I do, however, think it's a terrific example of how messy relationships are and why, although we can have clear-cut definitions that say X definitely IS but Z definitely ISN'T, when it comes to taxonomy, either in biology or sociology, X and Z may be clear, but Y might be something in between. And that's OK.


You've been reading Poly-ish Movie Reviews, with your host, Joreth, where I watch the crap so you don't have to!

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