a bird and a bottle

Not Gonna Knock Knocked Up
June 10, 2007, 10:28 pm
Filed under: feminism/s & gender, frivolity, funnies, media, news, reproductive justice, sexuality

Well, color me surprised.

knocked up

I was already to write a post deriding Judd Apatow‘s new film Knocked Up. I haven’t seen Apatow’s other work (Freaks & Geeks, the 40-year-old virgin), so this was not what you might call an educated opinion, but I figured that a movie called “knocked up” couldn’t be good. The phrase knocked up just rings of misogyny.

But I was pleasantly surprised. SF and I saw it last night. A.O. Scott was right. It was funny. It was sweet. And, for the most part, it lacked the misogyny that often pervades the two genres with which it toyed: so-called chick flicks and stoner movies.

I was nervous about the film’s treatment — or lack thereof — of abortion. I had heard that the film sort of glosses over it. Apparently, the topic was interesting, and obvious enough, to make its way into the NY Times Styles section this week. While it’s true that “abortion” is never uttered in the film, the issue is not ignored either. More than that, what (admittedly little) conversation there is about abortion in the film seemed to me to be a fairly biting satire of our inability to talk honestly and apolitically about abortion in the U.S. And the film’s general treatment of pregnancy, reproduction, and birth (in a very impressive Stan Brakhage-esque scene) is often much better than the Hollywood standard.

And I’m not alone in my relief: Amanda Marcotte’s review at her new blog Unsprung echoes a lot of my thoughts.

Still, I can see why some pea-brained conservatives seek validation for their misogynist political opinions from the previews of the movie. From the preview, the movie seems like a wet dream for anti-choicers, a story of an uppity bitch who gets hers by getting trashed and sleeping with the wrong guy, which leads to punishment-by-pregnancy. Add in the college Republican fantasy of being able to trap a wife through pregnancy, and you’ve got a bit of anti-choice propaganda. Those folks will be sorely disappointed by the movie, unless they’re too dumb to pick up on the not-really-subtle subtleties, particularly with the way that the movie sides with Alison’s right to have her own life and career despite being pregnant.

All of this praise doesn’t mean I don’t have a bone to pick with the film. And that nit to pick is this: why is it that the only people who actually sorta kinda talk about abortion in the film are men? Ben’s (the guy who gets Katherine Heigl’s Allison pregnant) stoner friends are the ones who get closest to saying the word “abortion,” while Allison’s mother says only that Allison should “get it taken care of,” or something to that effect. One of Amanda’s commenters also picked up on this; she sees it as yet another example of the “father knows best” mindset. I’m not so sure. Maybe it just speaks to the fact that it’s easier sometimes for men than for women to talk about abortion — and to pontificate about it. But maybe I’m just being too optimistic.

Whatever the case, I was impressed by the film. Anyone else seen it and have an opinion? I’d love to know…


8 Comments so far
Leave a comment

haven’t seen it yet, but had the same reaction as amanda marcotte to the trailer. however, having now made the freaks and geeks connection, i’m willing to believe it may be a decent movie. freaks and geeks, may have been one of the best shows on tv – it’s actually in my netflix queue right now…

Comment by maxwell

I think I am going to have to add F&G to my queue too. Everyone raves about it and I haven’t seen it at all. Would be curious to hear what you think if/when you see Knocked Up.

Comment by bean

I always find it odd that conservatives keep claiming that the film is somehow conservative because it portrays someone going through with a pregnancy and being fine with it. That’s ridiculous. It seems like they actually believe that childbirth itself is somehow inherently pro-

Comment by aeroman

Aeroman, they’re political hacks. You shouldn’t expect anything from them other than to say every successful movie or book or show reprensets their ideology and every unsuccessful one represents the eternal villain.

And it goes both ways.

Comment by Alon Levy

Another not-so-subtle criticism of the anti-choice movement is the depiction of a horrible marriage that – as we learn from the husband – came into being only because she got pregnant and brought it to term. This also helps temper the otherwise saccharine ending.

Comment by professorplum

[…] ink spilled this past summer over the Judd Apatow film Knocked Up, and about how the film did and, mostly, did not deal with the question of whether or not the protagonist, a twenty-something woman, pregnant after a […]

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