The politics of abortion in fiction
newsdepo.comAs more and more red states attempt to outlaw a woman’s right to choose an abortion, strategies to resist these new laws are drawing attention, especially within the entertainment community. Most of the focus has been centered on Georgia after HB 481, giv
The politics of abortion in fiction
As more and more red states attempt to outlaw a woman’s right to choose an abortion, strategies to resist these new laws are drawing attention, especially within the entertainment community. Most of the focus has been centered on Georgia after HB 481, given the level of film and television production done in the state due to tax incentives. The majority of Marvel Studio’s MCU films have, at least in part, been filmed in Georgia. Cartoon Network, and its Adult Swim lineup of shows such as Rick & Morty, Robot Chicken, The Venture Bros., etc., is headquartered out of Atlanta. The Walking Dead, Stranger Things, Ozark, and more are all filmed in Georgia, creating about 100,000 jobs and $4.6 billion in wages. Last year, conservatives in Georgia engendered widespread backlash when they attempted to allow discrimination against LGBT couples in the realms of adoption and foster care if done out of “religious belief,” which led companies such as Disney, Apple, Fox, Time Warner, Netflix, the NFL, and Sony to threaten pulling money out of the state if it became law. HB 481 has put Hollywood productions back in the same spot of deciding how to respond, especially with there now being labor considerations since the law potentially makes female crew members working in Georgia subject to a second-degree murder charge if they suffer a miscarriage during a shoot. However, this time around there’s also been considerably more debate over whether an economic boycott of the state is the best strategy. While there are dozens of actors, performers, and producers vowing not to work in Georgia, unlike with LGBT discrimination, so far none of the major studios are threatening to leave over the abortion politics in the state. Others have argued a boycott would “hurt workers who didn’t ask for women’s bodily autonomy to be stripped and don’t support this regressive policy,” and some producers are justifying staying in the state by saying they’ve been contacted by “people locally, and specifically women of color, who are saying, ‘Don't leave us.’” A third option is what Jordan Peele and J.J. Abrams have decided to do, wherein “100 percent of the episodic fees” for their Georgia-based television production will be donated to the ACLU of Georgia and Fair Fight Georgia, the voting reform group of former gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams who has asked the industry for support on the ground to “transform the political system.” While thinking about how Hollywood should respond to how abortion is treated here in the real world, I thought it might be interesting to look at how it has been treated in the not-so-real worlds of film and television. A common criticism of how American culture treats sex in media is how people have a much lower threshold for watching someone’s head being cut off than seeing naked bodies. The history of film and television has been one where depictions and discussions of sex had to be done obliquely at times (e.g., married couples with double beds), created a system which ignored the existence of significant parts of the populace or turned their sexual desires into stereotypes, and has long been the subject of controversy over concepts of objectification, body image, and the fair treatment of women and women’s issues both in front of and behind the camera. Abortion is an aspect of those women’s issues, since one in four women will have an abortion before the age of 45, but it’s also an issue which can make even people who claim to be pro-choice uncomfortable in either acknowledging or discussing the topic. So it’s interesting to see how it has been handled over the years as a story concept in fiction.