Cover Story

The plots thicken

"The plots thicken" Continued...

Issue: "The plots thicken," Jan. 12, 2008

When she bursts out of the clinic, a teen pro-life picketer outside cries, "God appreciates your miracle!" Astonishingly, the pivotal, life-affirming moment passes without a flicker of condescension.

"Even if what Juno is showing is 'unrealistic' according to The New York Times," said Nicolosi, "the movie is saying the character's choice is heroic, and audiences are responding by saying, yes, it is heroic. And if you're a 16-year-old girl watching the movie, it shows you a different 'choice.'"

Even liberal critics are heaping kudos on the film. KPBS called Juno "a gift every film lover should want this holiday season." The Los Angeles Times dubbed it "poignant and unexpected." Even Rolling Stone praised the movie for taking "the girl view by letting teenage Juno . . . bypass a hasty abortion in favor of having the baby."

Steve McEveety half-jokes that Hollywood's slow shift toward life is all Quentin Tarantino's fault.

In Kill Bill: Vol. 2, Tarantino's 2004 installment in a two-part bloodbath, two female assassins wind up stalking each other. "There's this scene where one of the hit women just found out she's pregnant," McEveety said. "The other hit woman . . . decides not to kill her because she would be killing two people. Nobody got it except for the young kids who saw the film. That's the next generation of filmmakers."

Those would-be filmmakers-and many already making movies-are influenced heavily by ultrasound technology, said McEveety, a Roman Catholic who is very vocal about his own pro-life views: "You can go on the internet now and find video of a 24-day-old baby and see the heart beating. Technology is catching up to the lies. You can't dispute the images."

Nicolosi agrees. "These filmmakers are people who grew up with ultrasound pictures on the refrigerator," she said. "And they're saying, you know what? I've got eyes to see. Don't try to tell me that's not a baby."

At a Feminists for Life event at UCLA, keynote speaker and actress Patricia Heaton asked the crowd of about 100 how many were pro-life and how many were pro-choice. A show of hands revealed a mixed group, but heavy on pro-life views. Heaton then asked a pro-life member of the audience to explain why she held that view.

"I don't want to judge my parents because they did what was right for them," said one young woman. "But I've grown up knowing that they aborted two of my siblings. I've grown up my whole life wondering if they were glad they kept me."

Like that young woman, many of today's filmmakers grew up ravaged both by the divorce culture and the promises of the sexual revolution, Nicolosi said: "The pro-life themes in their films aren't political statements-they're cultural statements. Gen-X and Millennial filmmakers understand that an abortion most often means mom just didn't want to be inconvenienced, in the same way she just didn't want to stay married to dad."

It's possible to argue that Hollywood's startling new egalitarianism on abortion started on the small screen then leapt to the large. While some shows, like Law & Order, have in recent years painted pro-life activists as murderous vigilantes, others have been more fair. On CSI Miami in October 2002, for example, lead character Horatio Caine (David Caruso) watches a technician remove an early-term fetus from its mother's womb following a car crash: "Not just skin cells, is it?" Caine says.

HBO's Six Feet Under in a July 2003 episode had main character Claire terminating her pregnancy at a local abortion clinic. Producers of the episode portrayed the clinic as a sterile, unfriendly place, running women through like cattle at a slaughterhouse. Still, Claire moved through the scenes emotionally detached. After the procedure, a friend drove her home to recover and that was that. But a later episode mirrored real life: Though Claire, like many women, experienced mainly relief in the immediate wake of her abortion, a breakdown followed. Asked to babysit her infant niece, she becomes ill. Then she has a dream in which she meets her aborted child in heaven.

House dealt with abortion twice in 2007. At first the rude, unsentimental, yet somehow lovable Dr. Gregory House (Hugh Laurie) sticks to his pro-abortion guns. In a Jan. 20 episode, House advises a rape victim to "terminate" the resulting pregnancy.

"Abortion is murder!" the young woman objects.

"True, it's a life," he replies: "And you should end it."

Later in the conversation, the woman says of abortion, "It's murder-I'm against it . . . You for it?"

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