"There is difference and there is power. And who holds the power decides the meaning of the difference." --June Jordan

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hollywood Politics

Right after posting about this little slice of misogyny from the new movie Knocked Up, I see that Our Bodies, Our Blog has linked to an excellent New York Times article about how Hollywood deals (or rather, doesn't deal) with the issue of abortion.

"Though conservatives regularly accuse Hollywood of being overly liberal on social issues, abortion rarely comes up in film. Real-life women struggling with unwanted pregnancies might consider an abortion, have intense discussions with partners and friends about it and, in most cases, go through with it. But historically and to this day in television and film historians, writers and those in the movie industry say a character in such straits usually conveniently miscarries or decides to keep the baby."
Funny.  My conclusion about a sexist joke in the film was that "art reflects life," but apparently that's not the case when it comes to reproductive choices for women.  When the issue is abortion, art more often reflects conservative "morality."
The article also discusses how abortion has been addressed on television, and it cites the controversial 2004 episodes of the Canadian teen drama Degrassi: The Next Generation that were not aired in the U.S. due to the their treatment of the issue.  The NY Times article about this controversy had this to say:
"The episodes are significant for U.S. television because not only does the 14-year-old Degrassi character choose to have an abortion, she feels no guilt or regret over her decision afterwards. "
I saw the two episodes on YouTube back in the days when you could still find full episodes of things on YouTube, and I can see how they would have had conservatives up in arms.  When Manny discovers she is pregnant, she seeks the counsel of a trusted adult who supportively tells her that no matter what anyone else says, what to do about her pregnancy is ultimately HER decision to make.  Not her parents', not her boyfriend's - but HERS.   And while the young character struggles with her decision and is met with opposition about abortion by one of her best friends, she goes through with the procedure and expresses relief instead of remorse when it is over. 
So even though a reaction of relief is overwhelmingly common among women who obtain this LEGAL procedure in the case of TWO THIRDS of unwanted pregnancies, it was considered too controversial to show on U.S. television.  Even for a show that is known for dealing with tough issues for teens.  Ridiculous.  (I can't get enough of Degrassi, by the way. It so goes there.) 
And one more thing about the movie Knocked Up.  I want to make note of the wisdom of an insightful commenter from my earlier post:
"Personally, I took the title alone as reason enough to steer clear of
this movie--"knocked up" is just about the most insulting term for
pregnancy I can imagine. Such disgustingly violent connotations.
Sometimes I wonder if I'm the only person who thinks this way..."
Somehow, I never fully thought about this one (you know, with sexism being so entrenched in everything and all), but now that it's mentioned, I totallty agree.  I don't think this term was really one that I ever used, but I'll definitely make more of a conscious effort from now on to avoid it.  Thanks, commenter.