Obvious Child
October 10, 2009 1:02 PM   Subscribe

Why deny the obvious(,) child? Short film. Romantic Comedy. Paul Simon. Abortion.
posted by pick_the_flowers (18 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I thought it was sweet. It did employ the frequent and irritating romantic-comedy trope wherein one character tries to cut herself off forever from the other out of a momentary sense of drama. Leave a note, lady!

It did not, however, employ the trope wherein the Main Dude is the most hittable guy in the picture, and yet we are supposed to believe that he is transformed and made tender by the lady's love. This guy was sweet all by himself, so I appreciated that.

Juno would have been a better movie if it had been more like this, but then there is a long, long list of things that would have made Juno a better movie.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:41 PM on October 10, 2009

Peter Mulvey does a really nice version of this song.
posted by EarBucket at 2:55 PM on October 10, 2009

That waiting room scene is every anti-choicer's nightmare: a cute white educated couple makes hilariously black-hearted jokes just before disposing of their potentially cute white baby. Gold.
posted by zoomorphic at 3:03 PM on October 10, 2009

I know what you mean, but I thought that the humour brought out one of aspects about which pro-life and pro-choice people can agree: the difficulty of the experience. To me, the essence of pro-choice is the recognition that something can be heart-rending without being morally proscribed. The abortion was definitely not portrayed (as some people would cast it) as a kind of emotionally unaware act.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 4:16 PM on October 10, 2009

"I'm really glad that you came."
posted by matthewr at 4:17 PM on October 10, 2009 [1 favorite]

The difficulty of abortion is certainly not a monolithic fact. I, for one, am fine with the abortion I had, and I made similarly tone deaf jokes in the waiting room with my boyfriend at the time. We made those jokes because we were waylaid by the event (I was on the pill, goddammit!) and found the idea of actually having a kid so horrifically unfunny that it jumped back over the border into being funny again. No, neither of us wanted to go through it, but it wasn't the devastating, heart-rending, difficult experience that lots of people (pro-choice and anti) unfailingly assume it should be. Life presented me with the opportunity to have a baby and I said, without hesitation or regret, "Uh, no thanks." The character in this movie is a little more sad, as she tears up with her mother, but at no point does she suggest that she had any difficulty deciding to get an abortion. The assumption that everyone who gets an abortion automatically goes through a traumatic week of tearful soul-searching is another extension of the taboo factor, and it's patronizing as all get-out.
posted by zoomorphic at 5:42 PM on October 10, 2009 [5 favorites]

Great little film, thanks for sharing it.
posted by Pantengliopoli at 6:06 PM on October 10, 2009

Thanks for sharing your experience zoomorphic.

Regarding the character in the film -- I imagine that she didn't find it to be a hard choice (even if it was a hard experience) because the other option would have been ludicrously more difficult.

I don't really see why it would be patronizing to treat an issue with an excess of sensitivity. There are plenty of occurrences in life that hit us less hard than others expect. I am thinking of the L'Étranger, where everyone assumes he should be broken up over the death of his mother. It's a little bit weird for him that everyone is expressing their profound apologies, but it's not patronizing until they castigate him for not feeling the way they expect. No one can deny your experience, so I would not say that you are being patronized. It's standard empathy to make assumptions about how people might feel based on past experience.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 6:26 PM on October 10, 2009

Recently, both I and my best friend thought we might be pregnant. * Odd, but true. In similar fashion, I asked her to be my abortion date, and we laughed together. Humor is necessary in a time of distress, and often allows for us to be more clear-headed in decision-making, rather than dramatic and panicked.

*Neither of us ended up being pregnant.
posted by greta simone at 6:27 PM on October 10, 2009

Thanks Zoomorphic. For many woman I know, to have an abortion was one of the easier choices they've made, and on reflection it's been a decision made without regret or pangs of any sort. I wish more people would acknowledge that fact.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 7:14 PM on October 10, 2009

It's standard empathy to make assumptions about how people might feel based on past experience.

I see what you're saying, esprit, but I don't think the Camus comparison holds much water. For one thing, part of the pro-choice political framework (rightfully, IMO) presumes that the fetus isn't alive, isn't a person, doesn't have legal rights. To assume that someone would feel the same way about losing a 2-cm sack of cells as they would about losing their own mother, and that other people might automatically place those two events on the same emotional shelf, seems wild to me. Again, that's just me, and I understand that for lots of people who get abortions it's much, much harder. But to automatically cast the decision as difficult and heart-wrenching is not the same as simply treating it with sensitivity, and people's knee-jerk "oh god you poor thing you must be so sad" reaction always carries the whiff of taboo with it.

Then again, I am the person who ran into the kitchen with no shoes on right before our appointment just to say I was barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, so I'm clearly not an expert on sensitivity.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:05 PM on October 10, 2009

This was really sweet.

I especially appreciated the treatment of the conversation between mom & daughter at around eleven minutes - this should be out there more amongst the pro-life people who think that legislation actually stops abortion. Back-alley procedures were at best dangerous, at worst barbaric - it must have been an horrific experience. I appreciated the way the film was able to cover this without heavy-handed judgment.
posted by Graygorey at 10:50 PM on October 10, 2009

Then again, I am the person who ran into the kitchen with no shoes on right before our appointment just to say I was barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, so I'm clearly not an expert on sensitivity.


When I referred to past experience, I didn't mean reading Camus! I meant my experiences with people having abortions and how it affected them. I think I understand what you're saying regarding the implication of taboo, and I can definitely see other people doing that, but that's really not what motivated my comment. We just have very different experiences, and so it was especially interesting for me to hear about your experience.

My point with Camus was to discuss how we square off other people's experiences with our own. I have met people who have lost their close relatives easily-- "oh I hardly knew him"-- and it must seem a bit funny to them when people say "oh god you poor thing...." It only takes on an ugly character when someone insists that you feel as they expect you to feel or else you're a bad person. I hope you didn't feel like I was doing that.
posted by esprit de l'escalier at 11:14 PM on October 10, 2009

Sweet little film, I liked it. Could have done with a couple more funny lines (rather than just funny people being natural with their friends) to really push it into rom-com territory. But the line "Which one of you is Donna?" did make me LOL. The conversation with her mum was great - I liked that she offered to come along for support.
posted by harriet vane at 12:26 AM on October 11, 2009

Oh, I know you were referencing Meursault's reaction to the death of his mother, no worries. Thanks for the clarification.

The film did a great job portraying that dazed amusement of "How did we get here?" Once I started talking about my experience, many, many of my friends admitted they'd also had abortions. If real people refuse to talk about it while the bad guys villainize and froth at the mouth about baby killers, then the bad guys win. This was a cute movie and all, but the political subtext is clear: these are normal people who got themselves into an unforeseen situation and they took care of it without the usual TV tropes of sobbing, gravitas, shame and heartbreak.

I can't think of another time abortion has been portrayed with humanity, good humor, and logical conclusions. In Party of Five, Julia has a miscarriage before she has to decide what she wants to do. Same thing in Grey's Anatomy. On One Tree Hill, a woman goes through a life-threatening pregnancy because abortion is so morally reprehensible. Claire gets an abortion on Six Feet Under and then hallucinates seeing her dead kid. For the most part, when unwanted pregnancies show up on TV (90210, The O.C., Sex and the City, Dawson's Creek) it's always, always concluded by the (usually too young, too poor) mother's unlikely decision to raise the baby.

Wow, I watch too much bad TV.
posted by zoomorphic at 10:23 AM on October 11, 2009

This is a charming film. Thanks!
posted by joannemerriam at 1:51 PM on October 11, 2009

See also: no-one can ever have sex, especially teenagers, without becoming pregnant. Really, it is possible...
posted by alasdair at 3:06 PM on October 11, 2009

Zoomorphic, great point. On the upside, it's possible the preemptive miscarriage may have helped to make miscarriages more "normal"...
posted by pick_the_flowers at 1:32 AM on October 12, 2009

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