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…


Taking down Abstinence Only Programs…now with 100% more humor!

Courtesy of very talented cartoonist (and new commenter(!)) Mikhaela Reid, have a laugh at the expense of abstinence only “education” programs (click the image to see it full size):

Reid - ab only

My Favorite Response Thus Far to Gonzales v. Carhart
April 25, 2007, 4:39 pm
Filed under: civil rights, feminism/s & gender, funnies, reproductive justice

From yesterday’s NY Times letters to the editor section:

To the Editor:

Re “A Sharp Turn for the Supreme Court on Abortion” (letters, April 20):

I am a rheumatologist caring for a patient whose lupus nephritis is flaring. Her creatinine is rising as her platelet count falls, and she has failed to improve with pulse methylprednisolone and intravenous cyclophosphamide. I am contemplating using rituximab. I would like to refer this case to the United States Supreme Court for its guidance.

Richard Zweig, M.D.
Santa Rosa, Calif., April 20, 2007

via Grace.

Free Speech, Dialogues, & Performance

Sometimes I’m shocked by what people do in the name of religion. Yes, yes, the violence, of course, is the first thing that comes to mind. But really, what surprises and appalls me are the more mundane things. The daily acts of supposed piety that require the denigration of someone else. I’m not knocking all religion (please, trolls, do not accuse me of that). What I am knocking is religion that requires one person to hurt another — physically or emotionally — as act of religious observance.

Not sure what I mean? Here’s an example. KMZ just sent me the video embedded below. It’s from the actor/monologist/author Mike Daisey‘s Friday night performance of Invincible Summer, his monologue currently running at the American Repertory Theater here in NYC. On Friday, Daisey was performing one of his extemporaneous monologues to a sold-out crowd. Until, in the middle of a sentence, all of a sudden, eighty seven members of a Christian group got up en masse and walked out. In the middle of the show. One man stopped and poured water all over Daisey’s handwritten outline for the show, an original and irreplaceable document.

Daisey, understandably, was shaken and reeling. He wrote on his blog:

I’m still dealing with all the ramifications, but here’s what it felt like from my end: I am performing the show to a packed house, when suddenly the lights start coming up in the house as a flood of people start walking down the aisles–they looked like a flock of birds who’d been startled, the way they all moved so quickly, and at the same moment…it was shocking, to see them surging down the aisles. The show halted as they fled, and at this moment a member of their group strode up to the table, stood looking down on me and poured water all over the outline, drenching everything in a kind of anti-baptism.

I sat behind the table, looking up in his face with shock. My job onstage is to be as open as possible, to weave the show without a script as it comes, and this leaves me very emotionally available–and vulnerable, if an audience chooses to abuse that trust. I doubt I will ever forget the look in his face as he defaced the only original of the handwritten show outline–it was a look of hatred, and disgust, and utter and consuming pride.

It is a face I have seen in Riefenstahl’s work, and in my dreams, but never on another human face, never an arm’s length from me–never directed at me, hating me, hating my words and the story that I’ve chosen to tell. That face is not Christian, by any definition Christ would be proud to call his own–its naked righteousness and contempt have nothing to do with the godhead, and everything to do with pathetic human pride at its very worst.

And it wounded me in my heart, because I trusted these people. Scared parents and scared teachers running from a theater because words might hurt them, and so consumed by fear that they have to lash out at the work, literally break it apart, drown it.

[…]But they are not simply fools and idiots–I saw them. They are young and old, they are teachers and students, they are each and every one of us. We are the same family, even if it hurts. The hard truth is that you reap what you sow, and I will not sow hatred and discontent–I refuse. I will not forget what that man, older than I am today, did to my work. I will not forget the cowed silence of those who left. I will not forget their judgment and their arrogance–but I will not hate.

Daisey’s experience, and his reaction to it, included in the video below (which is 9 minutes, but well worth watching in full) is a reminder that religious extremism takes many forms, and is both big/political and small/personal.

My Small Contribution to Blog Against Theocracy Weekend
April 7, 2007, 7:22 pm
Filed under: blog for justice, carnivals, civil rights, funnies, law, news & views, religion

I am religious. But I think that religion (all religions) should stay the hell away from my civil rights and liberties. And I think Passover/Easter weekend is the perfect time to remind myself, and everyone else, of that. Separation of Church & State is imperative to the retention and strengthening of our rights to free speech, to personal autonomy, to the ability to worship or not as we please…the list goes on. And many (many) people have offered similar lists.

So here’s my contribution to Blog Against Theocracy Weekend: someone else’s art. Here’s indexed‘s Jessica Hagy’s take on religion in America.

easter small

Prisons Can be Funny (so can Evangelicals!)

Stephen Colbert has two amazing “the Word” segments up from this week – both touching on the issues I blog about. I can’t embed them because wordpess won’t let me (damn you wordpress!), but I’ve provided links. Click them.

The first is a really biting critique of South Carolina’s new plan to let incarcerated men and women out of prison earlier….if they donate their organs…while they’re alive. I’m serious. Apparently a kidney gets you 180 days fewer in prison. Here’s the video.

The second “Word” – which aired just last night – goes after Daddy Dobson et al., who are angry at the new leader of the organization of American Evangelical churches (that’s not the official title) because he cares about issues like global warming and poverty instead of just abortion and gay marriage. Doesn’t he know that global warming doesn’t get people scared and to the polls? Colbert exposes the ridiculousness of that stance here.

Hat tip to SF for the link.

Update: Mysticist, a reader and sibling of SF, has informed me that the hat-tip was misplaced. He has requested the following correction: “Hat tip to mysticist for the link. Huge wag of a huger finger to SF for, like a petty thief, stealing the fire from his brother.” Done. Hat-tipped, finger-wagged.

Censorship and Comics
March 21, 2007, 8:24 am
Filed under: civil rights, funnies, media, news, reproductive justice

I love me some Mikhaela Reid. Her comics are funny, political, progressive, and pro-woman. They’re in your face. And it’s great.

Which is why I wasn’t all that surprised to read in today’s Women’s eNews column, that they’ve sometimes been censored.

Take this comic, for example, called “Every Sperm is Sacred” (a la Monty Python) :


The image, as described by Women’s eNews, is about a “dystopian America of 2020,” in which “the Supreme Court has upheld a “Spermy Protection Act,” a show of power by the “sex-cell rights movement.” It’s meant to convey Reid’s anxiety about the crusade to not only cut back on abortion rights but also to limit contraception. And it was rejected by one of her usual clients, a “progressive” upstate New York newspaper, saying that it too closely resembled the recent killing of Imette St. Guillen, whose body was found with her hands tied.

Of course, this is not the first time that comics about abortion have been targets for censorship. As the Women’s eNews column points out, Doonsbury’s abortion strips, which “show[ed] scenes from “Silent Scream II: The Prequel,” briefly starring Timmy, a 12-minute-old embryo, and his mother whom Trudeau’s filmmaker-narrator refers to as ‘the murderess herself,'” have met a similar fate.

What’s angering about this trend is that it’s not the only time that the First Amendment has been limited at the behest (or to the benefit) of anti-abortion rights forces. The Supreme Court held in 1991 in Rust v. Sullivan that Congress could limit what doctors receiving public funding were allowed to say to patients about abortion without violating the First Amendment guarantee of free speech.

Think Supreme Court doctrine doesn’t shape people’s attitudes? Think again.