Everybody's Got One
A blog. An opinion. An elimination orifice. A dream. An agenda. A past. A hidden talent. A conceptual filter. A cross. A charism (often the same). A task. A wound. A destiny. A lost love. A blind spot. A bad habit. A secret. A passion. A soul ... okay, maybe not everybody ...
Friday, January 06, 2006

Another ER shocker  

ER surprised me last night. I was expecting Abby Lockhart to be the first sympathetic primetime recurring character to actually choose to have an abortion. (Maude didn't qualify as sympathetic.) They had the whole situation set up: her career progress, her family history, the on-again/off-again relationship with Kovac, even his history with pregnant girlfriends. A perfect storm was brewing, for a consciously envelope-pushing show with a clear pro-choice bias to actually follow things through to their logical conclusion. But they, too, walked up to the edge and pulled back.

Even the subplot pointed that way: a frightened teenager, a virgin until raped, whose pregnancy was discovered in the course of diagnostic tests, with two strongly involved non-crazy Christian parents (constituting what fraction of a percent of actual abortions?), showing how “making it go away” is the only caring, humane outcome to such a situation. But that, it turns out, was only a sop to the pro-choice audience (and, perhaps, cast and production staff.) Abby, like every other main character on a popular TV show, and unlike one-fifth of pregnant American women in real life (and one-half of all pregnant single women), chose to keep her baby.

Why can't they pull the trigger? Are they truly afraid of an advertiser boycott by “right-wing extremists”? Or do they, on some level, suspect that the polls consistently showing a pro-choice majority are as reliable as movie-industry accounting practices? Is it just keeping their narrative options open? Since abortion, by definition, has no consequences, choosing to have one ends the storyline; but a pregnancy opens lots of future dramatic possibilities to exploit throughout an entire season (or longer). Is it that abortion, like many things, is a principle people can support unquestioningly in the abstract but get queasy about when it becomes personal and immediate? Or is it, at last, that the entertainment industry simply doesn't have the courage of what are less convictions than sentiments, assumed from their surroundings but unexamined like water by fish?

posted by Kelly | 10:02 AM link