Monday, June 18, 2007

Silence = birth

Posted By on 06.18.07 at 07:15 PM

Abortion makes me uneasy. Don't like thinking about it, talking about it, listening to other people debate about it . . . I mean, even the embryos in chicken eggs make me squeamish: oops, cracked that one, there goes another potential avian life.

Not being an active party in the creation/extinction of anything recognizably humanoid, I can more or less indulge this visceral discomfort on an immediate, pragmatic level without being held seriously accountable. Judd Apatow's slacker romantic comedy Knocked Up would like to get away with that too—aaiiieee, the A word, let's not talk about it, OK?—but the behavioral understanding that underlies the film, about what people of a certain age/class/education/earning capacity do when confronted with purportedly "real-life" choices (though in fact they're all stereotypes—which actually reduces the amount of wiggle room available), doesn't make that option feasible. Since here's this putatively bright, upwardly mobile young media pro who's suddenly faced with the prospect of unplanned maternity (not to mention a coparenting doofus who doesn't remotely fit the social-status mold of self-actualizing mate), and we're expected to believe she never directly considers the possiblity of . . . well, you know. (Of course there's the brittle, neurotic sister—an avatar of self-entitlement, and we all know what that means in terms of whatever advice she has to give—who at least sends out exasperated signals; but it's all implicit, in quizzically raised eyebrows and grimaces of concern.)

And what about the audience? Are we feeling that 500-pound gorilla breathing down our necks? Waiting for some unspoken dramatic shoe to drop? Whew, what a relief it never does!—so now we can all stop holding our collective breath. But out in the hedonistic subdivision wilds, where notions of realizing your "me me me" potential, satisfying your innermost needs/urges/desires, etc, have been pounded in since birth, the likelihood of something like this happening seems vanishingly small. It's not a credible outcome, for these cardboard characters anyway. But the issue never literally comes up at all. 

Now if it were Carl Dreyer's "spiritualized," anhedonic Gertrud as aspiring mom . . . though Keri Russell in Waitress seems counterpoint enough. Not pro-life or pro anything necessarily, just tuned into something that goes beyond middle-class caveats and constraints. "Rationality" be damned, some decisions just run against the grain.

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