“Obvious Child” arriving in UK, another chance to pretend the movie isn’t a “abortion comedy”

 

By Dave Andrusko

Obvious_Child_posterWith the “abortion comedy” Obvious Child slated to open in the United Kingdom at the end of the month, the director and leading actress took the opportunity to sit down with a writer from the Daily Telegraph to (ah) clarify what the movie is (ah) really about.

What comes forth from Gillian Robespierre and Jenny Slate (as filtered through the aren’t-I-just-so-precious commentary of reporter Radhika Sanghanri) is either historical revisionism on a serious scale or an unwillingness to be honest about what they produced.

Director Robespierre is, we’re told, not enamored with the short-hand description for “Obvious Child.”

“‘Abortion comedy’ gives a sense, in the semantics of that sentence, that we’re making light of abortion. And we’re not doing that,” she tells me. “I was a little angry because it makes our movie sound glib and sarcastic.”

This is one of those sentences that is so willfully foolish you almost don’t know where to begin.

Everything about Obvious Child is intended to be glib and sarcastic. Slate plays Donna Stern, a part-time nightclub comic with a full-time potty mouth. I know a fair number of “20-somethings,” but none of them are as proudly shallow, joyfully immature, unselfconsciously self-centered, and gleefully oblivious to the fact that they lack even the most basic manners as Slate’s character. So for Sanghanri to call Stern “typical” says everything about her predilections and very little about Stern’s generation.

Put another way, the “charm”—indeed the whole point of the movie—is identical to the nonsense that followed from the word processor of Janet Harris who used to work for the pro-abortion EMILY’s List PAC. Abortion raises zero moral or ethical issues and to talk about it being an “agonizing decision is to play into the hands of the crazies (which would be us). Indeed abortion is a joke and if you don’t see the humor, well, that’s on us.

Sanghanri recycles the same set of tributes. For example, the highest compliment, what the film is not:

There’s no Juno-esque last-minute change of mind with an ensuing adoption. Nor a Knocked Up scenario where the drunk couple decide to raise the baby together. Instead, Donna gets, “an abortion, please”.

Robespierre, of course, wants to have it all, including that the abortion is not treated like a joke. Really?

Stern is looking in the mirror, practicing what she is going “to lead with” when she tells the baby’s father what she intends to do. “I’m having your abortion. Do you want to share dessert?”

What about the night before she aborts? She’s about to go on stage and a friend tells her she’s “going to kill it up there.”

“No,” Donna quips, “that’s tomorrow.”

(As a reviewer for the New York Daily News, who loved the film, said, “Now that’s owning an abortion comedy.”)

One other comment from Robespierre that spoke volumes. On the theme (what else?) of a guilt-free abortion, she said

“We definitely wanted to make a movie where a woman went through an abortion without shame or regret. Without coming off as a PSA.”

This is Greek to a British audience so she amplifies

“They’re these terrible commercials like ‘don’t do drugs’,” Robespierre explains. “I think we definitely wanted to stay away from that. We wanted Donna’s voice, and those of the other characters, to be not only realistic but have an authentic tone.”

So “Authentic” means—whatever else you do—don’t come across as suggesting an abortion is something to avoid. It’s just another life experience (for Donna Stern, not her baby) that as many sympathetic reviewers argued helped her mature.

Click here to read the August issue of
National Right to Life News,
the “pro-life newspaper of record.”

It’s obvious she should abort because (as the title suggests), Slate’s character is so child-like, and therefore cannot be held responsible for her behavior. (Not, as Slate and Robespierre would hasten to add, that there is anything to be “responsible” for in an abortion.)

I’d like to end with something I wrote in response to a dreadful review by a Washington Post movie critic. Ann Hornaday wrote

Through it all, even despite her crankiest, most selfish and adolescent moments, Donna earns the audience’s support, thanks largely to the inherent sweetness Slate brings to her screwed-up but lovable character. There are as many awkward, discomfiting sequences in “Obvious Child” as there are interludes of genuine fun and romance.

The result is a movie that feels risky and forgiving and, despite its traditional rom-com contours, refreshingly new. If we can stipulate that existence is an inherently messy affair, ungainly and contradictory and confoundingly unresolved, then “Obvious Child” may be the most pro-life movie of the year.

So if Donna is sufficiently “sweet” and if we understand that life is complicated and “confoundingly unresolved,” presto, chango, the destruction of life becomes its affirmation—“pro-life.”

The child has served his or her purpose: Stern is wiser, her boyfriend is even more understanding than he was before, and they—but not their baby—live happily ever after.

What a message to send to young women and men. Irresponsibility and crudity and violence as fodder for a good movie.