The Unexpected Pregnancy Comedy?

My good friend and fellow 2005 Koch Fellow alum Alicia Cao emailed me the following today:

This is still a really interesting article to me although the arguments being made are not necessarily original. I completely agree with her that the burdens / mistakes of sex are almost borne exclusively by the woman. And this is one of the reasons why I am so adamantly and wholly pro-choice.

I don't know how many of you saw Juno but my initial reaction to the movie was disgust. I find it offensive and obnoxious that the trauma of unexpected pregnancy for a teenage girl can be treated with such a flippant and tongue in cheek way as was portrayed in the movie by Juno. I, having suffered the consequences of sexual mistakes can never be as flippant as she was about them and I have a hard time imagining the female friends who have confided in me ever taking on the kind of attitude Juno does about becoming pregnant and giving up the baby. I hope that viewers really do realize that Juno is as the author says, a "fairy tale" and people shouldn't expect girls to act the way Juno does. Getting accidentally pregnant and/or having to give up a baby is not as emotionally simple and clean cut as the movie implies. It's a fucking ordeal.

To which I responded,

I was thinking the same sorts of things while watching Juno. I also made a connection between Juno and Knocked Up. In both movies, an unexpected pregnancy occurs at a time in a woman's life that is not merely inconvenient, but potentially devastating - professionally, financially, and emotionally. And in both movies, the pregnant woman considers abortion but then rejects it as if it's beyond the pale. I'm sure pro-life conservatives are cheering from the sidelines, but it puzzles me why we are starting to see this same sort of movie over and over again. Maybe it isn't a new phenomenon and I'm just behind the times? Maybe the rules of Hollywood movie making require a non-abortion resolution in order to have the necessary "happy ending"? Maybe showing the true pain and devastation of unexpected pregnancies just isn't financially or artistically possible in this medium?

What say you, dear reader?

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I ran to see Juno as soon as

I ran to see Juno as soon as I saw Jason Reitman was directing it. I loved Jason's previous movie "Thank you for smoking". It's not secret he is a libertarian like his father, Ivan (Ghostbusters). I was a bit disapointed that there was no libertarian feeling to the movie, but past that, I think it was a great movie. 

I see nothing wrong with the movies promoting the idea of having the choice of abortion but choosing to go through with the pregnancy anyway. I do think this is the most moral choice. As for the movie being lighthearted, what's wrong with that? I believe many experiences are as traumatizing and terrible as we allow them to be. There a stoicist message about happiness in the movie. Juno - as opposed to the dysfunctional family trying to adopt - reflects maturity and rational control over emotions. It might be irrealistic, but that's a good attitude.

Since we're talking about

Since we're talking about After-all-I-won't-have-an-abortion movies, this is the story line of the excellent "Waitress".

Other thought... how do you make a pro-choice story? I haven't seen the one Scott mentions but put it this way.

There's a pregnancy. Either the woman choose to go through with it or she has an abortion. If she goes through with it, it can hardly be pro-choice... sure the story might show her going through hell with the pregnancy, but that doesn't make it pro-choice. Ok so let's assume she has an abortion. The best thing that can happen to her is that her life stay the way it was... an abortion is not going to make her life better than before... but that's really boring... she gets pregnant, she gets an abortion and then... no storyline? So it has to have bad consequences, and if it has bad consequences, it's hard to make it pro-choice.

The problem is that, if the pro-life position is correct, that's because life is intrisically good, while if the pro-choice position is correct, that's because choice is intrisically good... but how do you picture "choice" in a story ?

A more effective means would

A more effective means would be to show a woman who does not have an abortion--and this leads to tragedy.  Perhaps she lives a miserable life with an unwanted child, or dies in childbirth,  et al.

In The Ciderhouse Rules, a doctor's apprentice disagrees with abortion, even though the doctor he studies under peforms them.  Early in the movie a girl comes in with a stick or glass bottle or something shoved up inside of her in a failed attempt to abort the child--the doctor explains this is why he performs abortions, to avoid this kind of tragedy.  Later in the movie, we meet a bunch of new characters, including a young girl who in the end gets knocked up by her own father.  The apprentice aborts this child, saving the girl from, I would think, a possibly deformed infant and a child come too early in life.

 Or perhaps the woman is pregnant with the anti-Christ:

                     BEAVERY
                         You've done us a huge favor, Stanny!
                         Without the mountain lion around, the
                         Lady Porcupiney can give birth to the
                         Antichrist!

                                     CRITTERS
                         Yaaay Satan!

                                     STAN
                         Waiwait, the Antichrist?? You said she
                         was giving birth to your savior!

                                     SQUIRRELY
                         Yeah, to the Son of our Lord, Satan,
                         Prince of Darkness.

                                     STAN
                         But I thought you meant the Son of God!

                        
                                     DEERY
                         Well, think about it: You really think
                         God would have sex with a porcupine?

                        
                                     CHICKADEE-Y
                         No way! Only Satan, Prince of Darkness
                         and King of all Evil would do that!
                         Yay!

                                     FOXY
                         This just calls for a celebration! Let's
                         sacrifice Rabbity and eat his flesh!

                        
                                     RABBITY
                         Yay! Sacrifice me to the Devil!

               [the other critters cheer. Stan is frozen stunned as Beary pulls
               up a satanic altar on a small wagon with a little help from Squirrely.
               The other animals bring Rabbity up to the altar. Rabbity is propped
               up on the altar and Beary tears him apart with a big knife. The
               other animals crowd in, tear away pieces of the body, and eat
               them raw]

                                     CHICKADEE-Y
                         Drink his blood! Drink his blood!

                                     SQUIRRELY
                          Blood orgy!!!

                                     CRITTERS
                         Yay, blood orgy! Blood orgy, yay!

..... 

                                     STAN
                         There still has to be a way for you
                         to kill the porcupine's baby.

                                     DARK CUB
                         What? You mean like in an abortion?

                        
                                     LIGHT CUB
                         Yeah. An abortion. That can work.

                                     MEDIUM CUB
                         But, we don't know how to give abortions.

                        
                                     DARK CUB
                         Do you know some place we can learn,
                         mister?

                                     NARRATOR
                         "Where can they learn that?" the boy
                         said with a frown.

               "I know! The abortion clinic just outside of town."

                                     STAN
                          What?!

                                     NARRATOR
                         So he picked up the cubs and down the
                         mountain he stormed.
 

 

Remember The Ciderhouse

Remember The Ciderhouse Rules? That was a good movie that was distinctly pro-choice.

The movie was about Juno, believe it or not. She was a flippant, irreverent person--that's why she was charming. She was as flippant about the pregnancy as she was about everything else. And she was believable as that, even throughout the pregnancy (though we do discover that some of that is just a tough exterior she puts up, when she breaks down and bawls on the side of the road). Also, the movie's a fucking comedy. Christ, I was crushed by a tractor trailer and survived by some miracle of fate--as soon as I got out of the hospital, I was joking about it.

As to your questions, yeah, I think a lot of it has to do with people wanting a happy ending. Abortion's not happy. It's actually pretty grisly. It's tough to spin infanticide. But I'm sure someone can make or has made a movie from the opposite side.

Scott, abortion is not

Scott, abortion is not infanticide, you asshole.

Alicia, I'm just being

Alicia, I'm just being hyperbolic.  I'll assume you're following my lead.  If you prefer: "feticide is tough to spin."

I think we've just proved

I think we've just proved Micha's First Rule of Comedy: "Unless your name is Sarah Silverman, don't try to mix humor with abortion, rape, or the Holocaust. Exceptions will be considered if your name rhymes with Visa Vampanelli."

(I think I just violated my own rule. Crap.)

You can't make a pro-choice

You can't make a pro-choice movie because no matter how many people support its legality, everyone knows it's very, very wrong.

There is no "I Win" button in ethical argument

I don't know that. Why do you assume that everyone else shares your same moral axioms? Lot's of Catholics (and Orthodox Jews) "know" that contraception is very, very wrong. Does that mean you do too?