Pop-Culture | Posted by Julie Z on 03/24/2010
So recently I got an email from Gillian Robespierre, a filmmaker, letting me know about her short film Obvious Child. I’ll let her take it from here, but before I do I have to say I really, really enjoyed this film. It’s so nice to see a new perspective on an issue that has been handled so singularly in pop culture.
I made a short film earlier this year called “Obvious Child” It stars Jenny Slate (the F bomb dropper on SNL). She plays Donna, a twenty-something living in Brooklyn. After getting dumped she has a spontaneous one-night-stand and finds that she is pregnant. She decides that an abortion is the only option for her. On her way to get the abortion, she happens to run into Peter, the one-night stand who got her pregnant. She begrudgingly lets him in on where she’s going. What follows is a great first date in an unlikely location and a happy ending.
After seeing so many films featuring unplanned pregnancies that end in childbirth (Juno, Knocked Up, Waitress, Bella, to name a few), we had become disenchanted with the representation of young women’s experience with becoming pregnant in the media today. While we have enjoyed these films, we have also been greatly unnerved by the ways in which filmmakers (and our culture more generally) have represented the issue of abortion, making it a silent enemy, a choice not to be made. We’d been waiting to see a film in which a woman makes the other choice- and there’s still a happy ending.
Young women need to know that abortion is a responsible choice to make when faced with an unplanned pregnancy. In writing this film, we also wanted to make feminism more mainstream and accessible. We believe more people are feminists than they realize. I think young women don’t want to identify as feminists—because they’re nervous that it’s not cool, and the stereotypes that have been created over the years of feminists being unshaven ball-busters has not been helpful. But I think there are a lot of people who have feminist values: they want equal pay in the workforce; they get upset when they see violence against women; the list goes on. So we wanted the film to be subtle and not agenda driven so, we stuck to the romantic comedy genre. And ultimately we wanted to tell a story with a strong, funny female lead character that has a positive abortion.
One last point that I’ll make is that we really are telling just one young woman’s story here—a story that happens to exist in a privileged environment with regard to race and class. We weren’t going to try to tell about everybody’s experience with abortion; instead we thought we’d start a conversation with the hope that others would decide to share their own (very different) experiences through the medium of film too.
It’s amazing how accessible the film medium is and how important it is to continue making poignant and smart movies with women at the helm that are accessible for everyone!
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