Hollywood is portraying abortion “at record levels,” the New York Times reported.
Calling pregnancy termination among the “longest-held taboos” for Tinseltown, the paper said nearly two dozen characters in streaming shows, movies, and television have had or talked about having abortions, many unapologetically, so far this year — which would have been an “unthinkable” development only a decade ago.
“You’re definitely seeing more of the matter-of-fact ‘I am pregnant, I don’t want to be, I’m going to have an abortion,'” Gretchen Sisson, a sociologist at University of California, San Francisco — whose research includes tracking how abortion is characterized onscreen — told the Times. “And it’s gone way up in 2019.”
More from the paper:
In the pilot for “Shrill,” Abby, the single millennial played by Aidy Bryant, professes to feel “powerful” after having terminated her unplanned pregnancy. On one of the final episodes of “Veep” Anna Chlumsky’s pregnant political aide lays into abortion opponents protesting outside a clinic, hollering, “I even prayed a little, and here I am.” On “She’s Gotta Have It,” the ambitious Clorinda, played by Margot Bingham, defends her decision to the baby’s father, saying anything she does with her body is her choice. Nine of the 11 people credited with writing those episodes were women.
These portrayals, like others on the series “Glow” and “Dear White People,” are a marked departure from how abortion was depicted, or not, in story lines from the ’80s through the early aughts. Characters facing unplanned pregnancies then usually agonized about what to do or, if the show was set in the past, weighed back-alley procedures. Babies were often carried to term or lost to miscarriage. Terminations led to psychological or physical problems or death. It’s not that today’s characters come to their decisions without deliberation, but that they are decisive and forthright, like Becky, the music executive played by Gabourey Sidibe in “Empire.” “My situation is not getting any easier,” she says at one point, “but I have decided to terminate.”
Sisson told the Times she expects the number of characters having, disclosing, considering, or mentioning abortions to eclipse the total she counted in 2017, which was 34.
Lindy West — a creator of “Shrill” who also launched the #ShoutYourAbortion hashtag — said normalizing abortion has been a priority in her work.
“I think that it’s really, really important to present that kind of mundane counterexample to the way that abortion is presented in media because people don’t understand that it can, not just be a neutral and mundane part of people’s lives, but a positive part of people’s lives,” West told Page Six.
What did the creators of ‘Unplanned’ have to say?
Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman — who wrote and directed the anti-abortion feature film, “Unplanned” — told the Times they’re not surprised at what appears to be an effort to depict abortion as mundane.
“Hollywood’s run by the left,” Solomon added to the paper. “You won’t see pro-life stories on TV.”
Solomon and Konzelman added to the Times that they didn’t bother approaching Hollywood financiers or studios to make “Unplanned.” But even after the movie got made, obstacles still abounded.
- “Unplanned” received an R-rating prior to its release for “some disturbing/bloody images” — which means that while a 15-year-old can get an abortion without parental consent, she can’t enter a theater to watch “Unplanned” without a parent or guardian.
- Twitter suspended the movie’s account on its opening weekend, and the film’s Twitter followers inexplicably plunged to under 200 when it had amassed over 200,000 just hours after the suspension. Both the follower count and suspension were soon reversed, but the damage was done.
- In April, it was pointed out that Google labeled “Unplanned” as a “drama/propaganda.” A Google spokesperson told Fox News that its “Knowledge Graph” analyzed web content on the movie, and that a large volume of it described “Unplanned” as propaganda and created the label.
- Death threats were sent to a pair of Canadian theater owners earlier this month set to show “Unplanned.”
Yet the paper said “Unplanned” has earned more than $18 million in the U.S., the Times said.
Filmmaker Nick Loeb directed the forthcoming “Roe v. Wade” also told the paper that Hollywood is ignoring anti-abortion America. In fact, he noted to the Times that movie distributors already have made sight-unseen offers for his film, which stars Jon Voight, Stacey Dash, and Loeb as the anti-abortion activist Bernard Nathanson.
“Nobody’s speaking for us, Hollywood doesn’t speak for us,” Loeb told the paper, regarding those who oppose abortion. “But when people make movies for us, they’re loved and they’re adored.”