‘It Shouldn’t Still Be A Debate’ Jenny Slate On Why You Need To See Her New Film About Abortion

For Team Debrief, it's the film of the year. Make of that what you will.


by Kat Lister |
Published on

This week’s hot cinema ticket Obvious Child has already been dubbed ‘one of 2014’s most provocative indie-films’ in the US. Why? It’s a comedy about an abortion. Only, don’t call it an 'abortion rom-com'. For the film’s star, Jenny Slate, it’s so much more than that…

'I don’t even know what that is!' Jenny blurts between sentences. 'We’re not making jokes about abortion', she explains. 'An "abortion rom-com" seems like something that would be very glib or very rough with the subject. The movie is so thoughtful and I think saying it’s an abortion comedy is a kneejerk reaction by people who can’t imagine that this could actually be something that is thoughtful. It’s so much more than what these labels insinuate it is.'

READ MORE: Meet The Woman Behind Spain’s ‘Abortion Travel Agency’

Also starring Lena Dunham’s ultimate frenemy in Girls Gaby Hoffman, Obvious Child is all about what happens when 27-year-old stand-up comic Donna Stern gets pregnant after a drunken one-night-stand. If abortion is still a taboo subject then the big screen is its new frontier in 2014. Ask Slate why it’s still such a taboo and she’s stumped like the rest of us. 'Like, I start thinking about it and my brain catches on fire! The reality is that it shouldn’t still be a debate. Women should be able to choose whatever they want to choose with their bodies, but there is an entire movement of people who somehow don’t think that and I really don’t relate to it.'

She’s not the only one. Here in the UK, 1/3 of women in the UK will have an abortion by the time they reach the age of 45. Obvious Child is the simple story of just one of these abortions. It’s a very honest moment in a twenty-something woman’s life: What’s got everyone so ruffled is exactly that: it’s just one moment. The girl who has a one-night-stand, gets pregnant and has an abortion continues on with her life (cue outrage!). She isn’t a victim and she doesn’t feel guilt. Most importantly: she doesn’t change her mind. The film’s controversy is fuelled by its normality: and that includes jokes about knicker stains, ladies!

'There can be a very romantic, very funny, very uplifting movie about a woman who is real and who is not “quirky”, y’know? That kind of thing is starting to bother me,' says Slate. 'It’s really irritating when a woman is considered quirky because she has a ketchup stain on her shirt.'

READ MORE: Thousands Protest In Dublin Against Abortion Laws Following Horrific Case Of Raped Woman

'It feels good to be in a movie about a woman who has to deal with a true human issue. The predicament for this woman is not should she or should she not have this procedure but how should she, in general, mature and grow as a person.'

So what does Slate hope other 20-somethings will learn from character Donna’s story? 'That it’s important to be powerful, that we need to be strong and stand by our rights and assert our very unique personalities in this world. It doesn’t mean we have to shove away our doubts or our vulnerable parts. That humour is acceptable and useful in a thoughtful way.'

Obvious Child is defined by its thought-provoking humour, for instance, when Donna realises she’s pregnant and chastises herself: 'You played Russian roulette with your vagina!' Punchy lines like this on the big screen shouldn’t feel revolutionary in 2014 and yet they do. Which is what makes Obvious Child all the more vital. This is a film that fully celebrates the woman's right to choose, and does so with some extremely funny one-liners thrown in too – and why the hell not? With its UK release set for later this week, one of the last few taboo subjects will finally be challenged. Is this cinema in the post-Girls world? Let’s hope so...

Like this? Then you might also be interested in:

Meet The Woman Who Filmed Her Own Abortion To Ease Other Women's Guilt

The Films To Get Excited About Now The Weather’s Rubbish And You Can Sit Guilt Free In A Cinema Again

Why Is It Still Unacceptable To Have More Than One Abortion?

Follow Kat on Twitter @Madame_George

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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