This is So Wrong

Okay, back to snark. I’m bunking church and having a second cup of coffee with the New York Times. On page 1 of today’s Arts & Leisure section is a review of the movie, ‘Hunger Games’ titled ‘A Radical Female Hero From Dystopia’.

I remember when the world was new, and all I had was ‘Lord of the Rings’. It was fun, but clearly Middle Earth passed away because there were not enough females to carry on any of the races. Today’s Times has a gallery of female heroes on page 8, including my favorite, Sigourney Weaver in ‘Alien’.

We are social beings, and how we see ourselves and our choices in life is influenced by how others reflect us. Even in madness, we are rarely 100% original. One reason the female hero is so compelling is because she goes counter to patterns of female helplessness and selflessness that are taught to us in countless ways, most often subtle. I think about the impossible expectations put on girls, and the liberating power of the right idea at the right time as I browse through the film reviews.

On page 13 I spill my coffee. This is so wrong.

Krysten Ritter, model/actress co-wrote the script for a light comedy called ‘Life Happens’ about a single girl dealing with unplanned pregnancy and motherhood. Not that the situation stretches credibility, but look at the setup–

In the opening moments of the low-budget girlfriend comedy “L!fe Happens,” then, Ms. Ritter seems to be plowing familiar ground as Kim, a single gal who loses a tug-of-war with her roommate Deena (Kate Bosworth) over the last condom in the house. The reveal of the next scene — that Kim’s night of unprotected sex has resulted in a baby — is what turns her party-girl character, and the rest of the movie, on its ear.

Like, where do I start? Like pregnancy just happens to women? Like sex is mandatory? Like our spunky heroine couldn’t send stud-muffin to the pharmacy? Like they couldn’t express their affection in a non-procreative way? Like $40 for Plan B is not a good investment in this case? Like a woman doesn’t have a choice, and a man doesn’t have a responsibility? Like a woman doesn’t have a responsibility to think long and hard about whether having a baby is the right thing to do, whether she is prepared to be a mother?

So it stands to reason that the movie gives Ms. Ritter 101 minutes to show off greater range, projecting sad-eyed vulnerability, enacting a slouchy weariness and maneuvering the human prop that is an arm-straining 1-year-old, who cries, vomits and repels would-be suitors.

I don’t want to sound like I’m bullying what is clearly a lightweight Indy comedy, but enough already with this. I never quite got over standing in the Piccolo Mundo bakery on Atwells, hearing a pre-teen girl in line behind me singing Madonna’s ‘Keeping My Baby’. I always thought that anyway, Diana Ross’ ‘Love Child’ had much more soul. The social condemnation Ross sings about, thankfully, is not visited on innocent children the way it was then, but it’s still tough to be a single parent.

I’m just weary of women who have benefited from the gains of feminism using their art to re-create hapless chicks who get themselves pregnant– just so they can do comedy around the sudden responsibility of a baby. Yes, it’s funny, but do you have to make your women so helpless?

I got the same sinking feeling reading this that I got when I heard an interview with Tina Fay on NPR. They played a clip from ’30 Rock’ where a character got drunk and thought she was pregnant, started picking out colors for the nursery, etc. But incredibly, it turned out to be a false alarm. How nice, how neat, how cute and scatterbrained.

I happen to be working on a script right now, I’m hoping Sigourney Weaver will give it a look. It’s called, ‘Adorable Alien’.

In this story, Kim, a single gal, loses a tug of war with her roommate about who takes out the trash. Kim loses, and almost trips over a basket left on her back doorstep. Inside is a baby, who is an illegal alien. Sigourney Weaver, Kim’s mother and retired ICE agent is so taken with the chance to be a grandmother that she colludes in hiding the adorable tyke from the Feds. Kim’s boyfriend dumps her due to Kim being no fun since she is occupied all the time with diapers and cleaning up baby spit, but Kim meets a much better guy when she joins Occupy Wall Street. I think they all eventually end up in Canada, I’m still working on that part.

Hey, I dream a world where the female heroines can be heroic in ways that don’t involve brandishing weapons. I’ll bet we all meet those kinds of heroines in real life. I’m glad a young woman can write a movie script and get it on the screen. Next step– to tell a new story.

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8 responses

  1. OMG-is this serious?All we had to do when I was an INS agent was chase down illegal babies.That’s so ridiculous it doesn’t even pass the smell test for a comedy.
    We DID detain with their children sometimes when it was necesary so the mother and kids wouldn’t be separated(we used non criminal detention facilities for that)but that’s completely different thing.
    We were much busier looking for such poor oppressed souls as drug sealers,sex offenders,smugglers,counterfeiters,gang members and other assorted “gifts” to our country from abroad(and some from here too).
    I get fairly sick and tired of the idea that it’s OK to depict INS/ICE as some sort of Gestapo agency.
    I don’t know how many agents have been killed on the job but it has to be approaching 120.Including two of my classmates from the Border Patrol Academy.

  2. Drug sealers?Oops.Dealers.

  3. I think the song is “Like a Virgin.” And to be fair, Tina Fey’s character on 30 Rock had been wanting a child badly when she had a mistaken pregnancy, so it was a desired (albeit a surprise) outcome.

    Overall, though, I couldn’t agree with you more! This scenario is so ludicrous it’s unfunny. I felt the same way about Knocked Up. Plus it really downplays and makes light of women who get pregnant and have no choice but to keep the child, and have to stress intensely over things like affording a home and food, and child support, etc. This is such a privilege fairy tale.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Lauren. I think the song was called ‘Papa Don’t Preach’. I don’t think we give enough credit to mothers, and fathers too, Parenthood isn’t a gesture, and you don’t stop caring when they turn 18. Everyone who does their best for their kids deserves respect, no matter what their circumstances.
      Thanks for filling me in about 30 Rock, I feel a little better. I still think using getting drunk as a plot device to absolve the woman, (and there’s a man involved too) of responsibility is pretty awful– not to mention alcohol and pregnancy are a lousy combination.

      1. It just makes it seem too easy to “turn your life around” and treats motherhood as the woman’s natural role and her single, swinging life as the aberration. Like, oh good, she got pregnant so now she’ll become her true self and have no problems with the changes. It just doesn’t work like that.

  4. SMHFilmReviews | Reply

    A sincere question– did you actually see the film “Life Happens?” I ask because this conversation reminds me of one that happened in the black community over the film “The Help,” where many people found it offensive (in a way) before they even went to see it. The premise of a film is sometimes enough to make you write the film off. But the reality of movies like “The Help” and maybe even “Life Happens” can be quite different from the projected image of a blurb, review, or trailer. And are women OBLIGATED to make films that portray us as ALWAYS smart, responsible, and powerful? I ask this here because I asked the same about “The Help” (i.e. are black actors obligated to ONLY play roles that show blacks to be in positions of power). That said, there were plenty of moments in Life Happens that were reminiscent of an episode of “Teen Mom,” but at least the movie is a comedy, with plenty of ridiculousness going on… I could go on! But I see myself headed for a rant… Thanks for an interesting post!

    1. thank you for your comment. I really appreciate it. You make a good point that I’m flaming a movie I haven’t seen. it’s showing in New York, don’t know if it will come to Rhode Island.
      I had an emotional reaction to the NYT review of the film that would not have suited a blog post.
      I care very much about women and children, about a good start in life for every child, about every girl growing up to know there is a place in society for her, that she is valued. I also care about boys and men being loved, valued and accepted into the best America has to offer. I care very much about sex, sexual freedom, our birthright as sexual beings to find love and happiness, while respecting the needs and rights of others. it’s an ideal, but reach for the stars, you won’t come up with a hand full of mud.
      My family includes single mothers and their beautiful children, and they are a good example of parenting.
      Maybe it’s the lack of representation of real life that hurts.
      Everyone loves Bristol, no one cares about her sisters. They haven’t done anything interesting,

  5. Nope.

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