Friday, January 23, 2009

Happy Birthday Roe

Sorry this post is coming late in the evening but Lady AWesome and I just got back from seeing Slumdog Millionaire. I’ll blog more about that soon, but suffice it to say, if you have not seen it, DO. That is some fantastic storytelling. For now, I want to participate in the national Roe Blogathon.

I know this is not why many of you read this blog, but I could not let the 36th anniversary of Roe v. Wade pass without mentioning it. I’ll try and related this to arts and culture, I promise. Thirty six years ago today (yay double chai) the Supreme Court handed down the landmark decision that made abortion legal in the United Sates. Since then we have been working hard to insure that that right is also a reality. I hope I won’t offend anyone by bringing this up, but I am a believer in a woman’s right to chose and I’d like to tell you why. And I shall do it in a way that emulates Tarak McLain, who is my new hero.

I believe that freedom is the cornerstone of democracy. I believe that God created us in God’s image by making us moral agents. I believe that one of the ways we demonstrate this is by using all of our intelligence and all of our spirit to make our own responsible decisions. I believe that women, if given the means, can and should make responsible and healthy decisions for themselves and their families. I believe that the government has no right to legislate sexuality or morality. I believe that “no one is free until everyone is free” (MLK). I believe that you should have the right to choose not to have an abortion. And I believe that we all need to work harder to ensure that we can live in a system where everyone is entitled to their beliefs and nobody is oppressed because of them.

But how does this relate to arts and culture, you ask. Here are some movies you might rent this weekend in honor of Roe v. Wade and some questions to get you thinking:

Knocked Up - I didn’t like it, but lots of people did. I think the real question that one might ask about this movie is, “is the ultimate message of Knocked Up that the best possible thing for a child is to have two parents, regardless of how little they like each other? Do you agree with this message? Also, what does it say that the there is no character in the film that can even utter the word ‘abortion’?”

Juno - I thought this was a fantastic movie. I think it really portrays young people making tough choices and dealing with the consequences of their actions (to the extent that any kid in the movies does). The question for this movie is, “how would Juno’s story have been different if, at of the many moments in the film (telling her parents, trying to go to Planned Parenthood, etc.) she had been told ‘no’ instead of ‘yes’. Juno is lucky because she has supportive parents, the means to make whatever choice she wants, and the education to know what her choices are. That is so incredibly rare.”

Dirty Dancing - This is a classic. Another great movie about people making tough choices. If you saw this movie when you were younger, my colleague Matthew suggests that you ask yourself “how aware were you of the issue of abortion as a part of it? Did it surprise you to think of this as a movie that raises issues of reproductive justice? What does that say to you about how the media handles issues of reproductive justice?”

Cider House Rules - This movie is a really powerful portrayal about what life was like before Roe. I think seeing Toby McGuire’s transformation is really powerful. “Why do you think he comes back in the end? What do you think his journeys teach him?”

That’s all. I hope you all will forgive this rare departure from our usual format. We will be back on to our usual reviews soon.

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