By Josephine Tovey
Most American movies these days contain swearing that would make a sailor blush, but there remains one word that apparently cannot be said. You can say the f-word, the c-word and some people can even get away with the n-word. But if you're a pregnant young women in a Hollywood film, it seems you still can't say the a-word.
In an industry where there are few taboos left, abortion remains an issue that is sidestepped, ignored or glossed over. A Hollywood comedy to be released in Australia tomorrow is the latest in a string of "pregnancy" movies in which abortion is still the hardest word to say.
Knocked Up is about a woman at the start of a promising career who becomes pregnant after a drunken one-night stand with a "slacker". The film's poster shows the guy's chubby, scruffy face adorned with the tagline "What if this guy got you pregnant?". In reality, most women would at least consider an abortion.
Strangely, we never picked up on the lack of the ‘a-word’. In the film, they once refer to it as a word that ‘rhymes with smusmortion’. Granted, there is some amount of disagreement in these United States about the use of certain birth control methods, but it is weird not to be able to talk about it. We can talk about things that are less pleasant like rape and genocide until the cows come home. It’s funny that the despite the film’s R rated and devil-may-care attitude it does come across as ‘pro-family’ and ‘pro-life’ (sorry, LA Times, anti-abortion). Were the producers nervous about alienating a certain audience? Was the omission actually intentional? Were they just seeking to not use a sometimes cringe-inducing word (yet, spoiler alert!, show us a baby’s head crowning)? This is par for the course for Hollywood. When was the last time that 007 stopped and put on a condom? Maybe he's had a vasectomy or is shooting blanks as a result to radioactive materials. What would happen if he got a note in the mail from some seduced and discarded floozy with a name like Legz Openforya? Whatever the case, Hollywood is not touching the subject of aborting unwanted or unhealthy pregnancies with a ten-foot pole. Or a pole of any length, for that matter
Check out the Dish from June 20th about Fox and CBS being uncomfortable with Trojan condoms’ contraceptive message. These are tricky issues, but glossing over it probably won’t create a tolerable solution for anyone.