I often joke that Kristen and I only see about one movie per year (in a theater), whether we need to or not. That sentiment says more about our stage of life than it does our interest in movies. We love movies, but the cost and time commitment a trip to the theater requires make those trips a rarity.
We will, however, make a trip to see the movie Unplanned. I hope you will, too.
I haven’t seen the movie, and thus my recommendation is based entirely upon what I’ve heard and read. But what I’ve heard and read has led me to conclude that it is important for me – and for mature, thinking Christians – to see it.1
If you haven’t heard much about the film (more on why that might be the case below), here is how Joseph Naumann, writing an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal, describes the setting of the film:
“Unplanned is the true story of Abby Johnson, a former Planned Parenthood clinic director. On a morning when her clinic was short staffed, a doctor asked Ms. Johnson to assist during a surgical abortion on a 13-week-old unborn child by holding the ultrasound probe as he positioned the suction catheter. Ms. Johnson was so distraught by what she witnessed that she resigned.”Hollywood Admits Abortion is Violent
Ms. Johnson has told her story, and now we can see it on screen. For Christians committed to the sanctity of human life, this is a tale we should celebrate. That’s why I plan to see it.
Beyond encouraging you to do the same thing, however, I wanted to point to two situations that have developed surrounding this movie. Each reveals something about our culture, and the way the abortion conversation is being shaped in our country.
First, it is fascinating – and revealing – that the movie has received an R rating from the MPAA. Naumann comments on that, as well, saying:
“Unplanned got its R rating for ‘violence’…It is noteworthy for Hollywood to acknowledge that abortion is violent, but the onscreen violence in Unplanned isn’t gratuitous. It’s medically accurate.”Ibid
We’re accustomed to hearing abortion described as “health care.” But when is health care violent? It seems that even Hollywood – or at least the Motion Picture Association of America – has been forced, by Unplanned, to call a spade a spade. Abortion is violent because it isn’t healthcare; it is murder.
Second, it is also revealing that so many broadcast networks and their parents companies refused to sell advertising space to those producing and distributing the movie. Many people hadn’t heard of the movie at all until it was released, largely because the film’s distributors couldn’t find people willing to air their commercials or publish their ads.
John Sullivan, one of Unplanned’s producers, admitted his frustration over this, adding that it wasn’t for lack of trying:
“We were looking to spend money, but [the networks and their parent companies] didn’t want to get involved.”TV Networks Reject Ads for Anti-Abortion Movie
According to The Hollywood Reporter, many major networks, including Lifetime, Travel Channel, Cooking Channel, HGTV, Food Network, Hallmark Channel, and USA Networks all declined to run ads for the film. On top of that, the social media platform Twitter briefly suspended the movie’s account over the weekend and suppressed user engagement with the film – until enough fans and users objected on the platform and Twitter reversed course.2
It is important that we support each company’s right to choose who advertises and who doesn’t on their platforms. Even a social media giant like Twitter has a responsibility to ensure that content on their service meets certain standards – though such standards often aren’t enforced as transparently as would be ideal. But what does it say about our culture when a movie like this one struggles to find companies willing to take its advertising dollars?
All this further encourages me to make seeing this movie a priority. I hope you will, too.
1 Because the movie is rated R, obviously this recommendation applies only to adults and (some) older children.