Hey, did you hear the one about the romantic comedy coming out about ... wait for it ... abortion? On Friday, Obvious Child, a new movie starring Jenny Slate about a female stand-up comic who contemplates an abortion after she gets pregnant from a one-night stand, opens in theatres. As is to be expected, the movie, which won a Producer’s Award at the Sundance Film Festival this past January, is creating all sorts of controversy even though it hasn’t actually opened.
According to The Guardian, when approached by a media buyer representing the movie, NBC asked that the word “abortion” be removed from online ads as they considered it still taboo. This caused Planned Parenthood to get over 10,000 signatures on a petition accusing NBC/Universal of censorship.
Since then, NBC has admitted to “mistakenly” asking that the word abortion be removed and has since had a change of heart and accepted the ad as is. Apparently, once 10,000 people get angry, a word is no longer taboo.
It’s shocking to me that, in a world where nothing seems to be off-limits or taboo, abortion still is. As a mom of a 6-year-old who just started to read, I’m particularly sensitive to what’s on billboards, posters, and TV. Anytime I see a billboard for the HBO show Masters of Sex, I pray my kids are looking in the other direction so I don’t have to field the question from my first-grader, “Mommy, what’s sex?” And then there’s that awful poster that seems to be everywhere for the upcoming FX TV show The Strain, which depicts a worm coming out a human eyeball. It’s so gross that my 3-year-old noticed it and had nightmares for days. I can’t blame her. It is pretty gross, but I guess gross isn’t taboo.
Really? When I pass a billboard for the HBO show True Blood that depicts a woman lying down with blood streaming from her face or an ad for the Showtime show Dexter with the show’s star Michael C. Hall grinning in front of a bloody wall, I can’t help but wonder why aren’t serial killers and bloody vampires off-limits?
Abortion is a highly polarizing subject that makes for heated debate, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be talked about. And while I don’t want to have to explain what an abortion is to my 6-year-old any more than I want to have to explain why the guy in the Dexter ad is happily standing in front of a bloody wall, I want artists, advertisers, and producers to be able to appropriately advertise their product, even if I agree or disagree with its message.
Personally, I’d rather see an online ad that contains the word abortion than be assaulted by gross, bloody, over-sexed billboards everywhere I turn. But apparently, blood and guts just aren’t taboo.
What do you think about a rom-com taking on abortion?
Written for The Stir by Meredith Gordon