Tuesday, March 10, 2009


I stumbled across an article from an old New York Times entitled, "On Abortion, Hollywood is No-Choice" the other day which really caught my attention. You can access the article at http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/10/fashion/10Knockedup.html?_r=1&emc=eta1

In a nutshell, this article seems to sum up all of my previous assumptions about the portrayal of abortion in the media, that being that television shows and film fail to acknowledge abortion as an option for an unwanted pregnancy, encouraging pregnant women to carry their children to term. In particular, the article zeros in on the image of pregnancy in "Waitress" and "Knocked Up". In both of these films, abortion is never an option for either female character. I found that the only references to abortion in Knocked Up at all was when one of Ben's friends says that Alison should have a procedure that rhymes with "smashmortion" or when Alison quickly shuts down her mother's suggestion that she "have it taken care of." I was able to gather from the article that producers seems to ignore abortion as a way of maintaining a happy audience. However, wouldn't this alienate free thinking liberal feminists?

According to Dr. Kuntz, a film historian at UCLA, "Hollywood wants to entertain and make money." While this is obviously understandable, we are failing to acknowledge a choice that is not only legal, but the right choice for some women. If this is the appropriate choice for some women, it isn't right for them to be told by the media that what they are doing is wrong- or even worse, not worthy of even being recognized.

This article has taught me that if one wants to see reality in the media, one must turn to independent films. Independent film companies take more liberties because they have fewer people to please; by taking these liberties they are able to provide a more accurate portrayal of ALL choices for women dealing with unwanted pregnancies. Not wanting to sacrifice viewers, the larger companies shy away from reality, unfortunately showing that entertainment value and money are more important than women's rights.


  1. Sadly, you're spot on in regards to Hollywood. It is a slave to its audience rather than the art of film-making.

    Of course the contrary is just as scary because if free-thinking feminists were the majority, you'd have an abortion crisis in every kids film for the sake of "pleasing target demographics".

    It must be tough to work in an industry where your work has to reflect other people's expectations before your own ideas.

  2. I think your assertions regarding the state of Hollywood today are quite accurate - indeed, the aim of the film industry is not to create a meaningful product but something that will appeal to the masses. However, you also need to consider that in these specific instances if abortion was a viable option for the protagonists then you'd have an awfully short film on your hands. In the examples that you have mentioned (all of which, to the best of my knowledge are intended to be slightly humorous in nature), pregnancy plays an important role in plot development (and comic relief) and without it the premise of the film would not exist. To put it quite bluntly, the harsh realities of getting an abortion and a woman’s decision to do so aren’t really something to laugh about. Furthermore, I think that you can’t rule out the possibility that the producers are doing exactly the opposite of what you propose. The fact that these characters are the products of quasi-surreal environments actually discredits their decisions to a certain extent. If Juno, for example, was the ‘queen bee’ of her school and made the decision to keep her baby, then I’d say the writers were espousing this mindset. However, this is not the case.