Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Obvious Child

Obvious Child
seen @ Kew Gardens Cinemas, Kew Gardens, Queens, NY

I have a friend who got an abortion after she was raped. This was long ago, before I met her, and she's moved far beyond it ever since. She's married now, in fact - but she has no desire to have kids... and knowing her as I do, I suspect that would've still been true even if she hadn't gotten raped.

Roe vs. Wade is 41 years old as of this writing, and while abortion has less of a stigma now than it did at the time of the landmark court case, there are still forces at work in the world that continue to try to control women's procreative abilities. 

Many of them are based in religion. Have you heard, for example, about this movement called "Quiverfull"? As I understand it, these are Christians who have HUGE goddamn families so they can dominate America through sheer strength of numbers. Basically, Quiverfull women submit their wombs to God. At least, that's how it's justified. In the words of the immortal Gwen Stefani, this shit is BANANAS.


As I write this now, I'm briefly reminded of last year's Mother of George, a movie in which the female protagonist is under tremendous pressure from her large family to procreate, as a result of cultural imperatives, and is scapegoated when it appears she can't. In a phone conversation in one scene, she wails in anguish, "Why is it always the woman?" implying a double standard at play between men and women. Indeed, history shows that it has always been the woman.

I will never know what it's like to bear a child, but I know oppression when I see it. Too many people in this world see procreation as something that's a woman's only reason for being, and as a result, there are women all over the world who can't even entertain the possibility that they can choose to not have children, because they've been brainwashed into believing otherwise. I've said it here before, but there are way too many people on this earth as it is, and unless there are plans in the works to move to the moon or something, we're gonna pay for it sooner rather than later.

So yeah, abortion needs to be shown as a legitimate, justifiable option, because not everyone is fully equipped to be a parent, whether financially, mentally or emotionally. That's why a movie like Obvious Child is unique: while it comes from a specific point of view, I never felt preached to, nor condescended to. It felt honest, like we were looking at regular, flawed people and the choices they make in their lives.

It's a simple story: a young woman gets pregnant by accident and realizes she's not ready for motherhood, so she contemplates having an abortion. Writer-director Gillian Robespierre injects a fair amount of comedy into her story, but unlike the too-cool-for-school, Internet Generation quips of Juno, a similar movie from several years ago, the humor here feels more grown-up. At the same time, there are moments of great sensitivity and introspection. Juno had that too, but most of the time, it tended to go for the big laugh. Plus, you could tell writer Diablo Cody (who won the Oscar for her script) was really in love with her own writing. Child doesn't have that kind of vibe.

Child is also fair to the guy involved. It would've been easy to make him a scapegoat for Men in General, but that's not the case. Robespierre lets us see his own, natural reactions and gives us a look at his perspective without vilifying him outright, and I was grateful for that. And mad props to SNL alum Jenny Slate, who is wonderful in this. She gets to do it all in a plum role that'll hopefully raise her profile a few notches. Seek this one out if you can.


  1. Bravo, Rich! I wish I could high-five you (if this is even grammarly correct). Motherhood needs to be a matter of personal choice, not of obligation.
    I've only read good things about Obvious Child, and I hope I can see it someday.

  2. Well I hope you can too! It's quite straightfoward and funny, and well worth seeing. I just posted a video interview with Jenny Slate on my WSW Facebook page:


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