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View Diary: Hollywood vs. Abortion (169 comments)

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  •  The dramatic problem with abortion (1+ / 0-)
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    is that there is not a story there.  If a film is focused on reproduction, abortion is not a valid dramatic response.  There is no film there.  Instead, abortion is raised as a conflict in a film in which it is certain the character will make another choice.  There is no dramatic or cathartic pay-off with abortion.  Of course, a film can address the issue directly, but it must then choose to be a film about abortion.  See, eg, Vera Drake, Citizen Ruth, both of which are good films.

    In all other contexts, abortion must be relegated to a conflict to be resolved or a minor plot element.  As others have pointed out, there are a number of films in which abortion plays this role.  

    As a separate point to the diarist- I really don't want this to come off harsh- didn't you think that it must be untrue that Fast Times is the ONLY film that addresses abortion as an acceptable decision?  I don't understand the ease with which one can make such an absolute statement, unless one has seen every American film ever released.    

    •  It's one of very few (1+ / 0-)
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      Miss Bianca

      And it's the only mainstream film I can remember where everyone is matter of fact about the abortion.  

      This isn't freedom. This is fear - Captain America

      by Ellid on Mon Dec 16, 2013 at 08:45:16 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  So much to think about (0+ / 0-)

      Your point about the dramatic value of abortion or the absence of such fits in with something I have been thinking about as I am made aware from the comments of the various movies that involve abortion that I had either forgotten about or had never seen.  It seems that a lot of the movies made since Roe v. Wade in which an abortion actually takes place are set in a time or place where abortions are illegal, either here in the United States before Roe v. Wade, or in some other country.  A desperate woman breaking the law to avoid having a baby has a dramatic value that a contemporary woman penciling in next Tuesday for a trip to Planned Parenthood simply does not have.  Still, the difference between Alfie and its remake gives us an example of a shift in values over and above mere dramatic considerations.

      As to your final remark, what I find unique about Fast Times at Ridgemont High is not merely that it regarded abortion as acceptable, but also as a completely innocent act with salubrious consequences.

      •  Thanks (0+ / 0-)

        I didn't present it very eloquently (fatigue at the time), but my point is that for there to be a dramatic conflict around abortion, it must result in not choosing abortion because otherwise the film would not give a payoff to the audience.  I was thinking of the fim Jagged Edge when writing the comment.  Those did he do it? films are ultimately unsatisfying to me because I know early on that for dramatic purposes he has to have committed the crime because otherwise there's no payoff for the audience.  It winds up watching 90 minutes of an innocent man defending himself in court and being found innocent.  Big deal.  One can create a compelling film around that story, but it would have to be a drama about how being put on trial affects his life; it cannot be structured as a whodunnit.  Seeing Jagged Edge when it came out brought to my consciousness the rules one must follow to compose a compelling film.  Of course, a truly great filmmaker could find a way to make an innocent man whodunnit compelling, but it is a very tall order.  Gosford Park tried this, but I did not find it successful.  Thanks for the chat.

      •  Oh, and re Fast Times (0+ / 0-)

        I agree with your characterization- salubrious consequences is on the mark.  I will say there was something disorienting to me as a teen with the abortion in that film.  The approach was so radical for a teen movie that it threw me off balance.  I would have to think that the fact that it was directed by a woman (Penelope Spheeris) informed that treatment.  It's also a good argument for the value of diversity in film direction.  She made a killing on Wayne's World but sort of fell off the radar.  Perhaps Kathryn Bigelow's recent success (they were the first wave of young female directors) will reignite her career.

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