By Dave Andrusko
The quest to “normalize” abortion could never be–and was never intended to be–merely an attempt to take abortion “out of the shadows.” Nor was it/could it ever be just a campaign to say that snuffing out your defenseless kid is a kind of sick rite of passage, although there’s plenty of that.
There was always much more to normalizing abortion than rooting out our instinctive repugnance to the barbarism that is abortion, although clearly that is a huge component.
No, it’s always been ultimately about making a joke out of abandoning our commitment to the future, about that knowing smirk saved for those dolts who are silly enough to defend the proposition that we have a moral and ethical obligations to the children we have brought into being.
Granted, you don’t go to Glamour magazine for insights into the human condition. But their stories tell us something about what the publication believes is the proper (if I can use that word in this context) response to matters of sexual ethics and human relationships.
In an un-bylined piece that popped up today online, you see more evidence of the ever-faster race to the bottom: “Has Grandma invented the ‘abortion comedy’?”
We’ve written about “Grandma” previously: “First ‘Obvious Child,’ now Lily Tomlin as ‘Grandma.’ Can one be worse than the other?”
Let’s say that for most people with no particular position on abortion, they would find it (to be polite) puzzling that Glamour tells us “So this weekend’s most uplifting film is about er, abortion.”
The movie is a variation of the ‘on the road’ films where the zany characters they meet hid the nihilistic impulses that so often are thinly disguised. Glamour loves the film because (as I read the review) abortion is just a vehicle by which three generations of women can hash out and work through decades of estrangement.
The granddaughter (Sage) needs money for an abortion, so she comes to Grandma Lilly who has just dumped her much younger girlfriend. Tomlin’s character (Elle) is low on cash herself so
Elle puts her in the car and they road trip around to call in favours from her hodge-podge of friends and acquaintances, in order to raise the funds.
Gloriously female-centric, as Elle and Sage ride around the city, Tomlin swears and curmudgeons her way through the awkward situations they find themselves in, at one point beating the crap out of the truly useless guy that impregnated her granddaughter. “You look like an armpit,” she snaps, before whacking him with a hockey stick.
Having not seen the film, I don’t know what role Sage’s mother (Elle’s daughter) plays. All we know from the reviews is that Sage begs Elle not to tell her workaholic lawyer mother (Judy).
At the risk of stating the obvious, the likely conclusion is reconciliation–three women brought together by the death of Sage’s unborn child–plus they get to clobber the air-head, useless father of Sage’s baby.
Girl Power, twice over.
And if that isn’t enough, Lilly’s character has a mouth so foul it would put a stevedore to shame.
Back in early 2015 Slate.com interviewed Tomlin and director Paul Weitz about the film. Nothing particularly thoughtful by either party, but here is Tomlin’s response to the interviewer’s question about whether the “discussion” (about abortion) has “gotten better?”
Well, since my earlier days, that’s a long time ago, and, my God, people barely talked about it. I mean, enlightened people might, I won’t even lay that on them.
I would say that people who were more conscious it or more aware might discuss it or make that choice or whatever, but, most people, it was a secret you know, and the subject was taboo.
I’m talking about back in the 60s and 70s, in general society, although, that’s not really the absolute thrust of this movie. It’s more about our relationships.
So, yes, I think it’s much more open, as everything is.
The “openness” about abortion is, of course, a step down the well-trod path of numbing the conscience by convincing people that abortion can be side-splittingly hilarious or can (paradoxically) bring the generations together by eliminating the future generation.
“Uplifting”? It’s hard to imagine a place so dark that trivializing the death of an unborn child could be considered a step upwards.