Sunday, May 27, 2007

Knocked Up

A new movie is opening soon. It's called, Knocked Up. Catchy title isn't it? If you haven't seen the adds, rest assured that the movie is about exactly what you think it's about. I've seen the TV commercials and read an interview with the star. I watched the trailer on the movie's official website. Normally I have no problem with Hollywood movies. If it looks like something that's going to offend me on either based on either lack of morality or lack of intelligence (except for Wayne's World), I stay away from it. I've seen very few movies recently.

A number of things bother me about this movie. The main thing is the plot; a successful career woman becomes pregnant by a slacker guy who looks like your typical Hollywood-type goofball, your child-like adult with the heart of gold, who by the end of the movie will fall in love with the woman he scored with. They will get married, become totally devoted to their love child and they will all live happily ever after. There will be serious moments leading up to that happy ending and perhaps even some short musings as to the moral implications of one night stands and getting pregnant before marriage. That will all be window dressing. This is an irresponsible movie, and one more tiny push that is "dumbing deviancy down."

The vast majority of women who get knocked up are not successful career women. They are, for the most part, not even educated. I work in a small "urban" school district. Many of my students are products of single parent families. They begin life at a tremendous disadvantage. By the time I get to know them in elementary school, they've already fallen years behind their counterparts from stable two parent families. Because of their family situation, there are a lot of small circumstances that add to the difficulty of their lives. Here are some of them.

Mom works nights so its up to someone else to get the kid or kids to school. They are late a lot.

There is a rotating cast of boyfriends/husbands who may or may not bond with the child. Sometimes there is resentment from the child. They end up carrying a lot of anger which is hurled at any convenient target, whether teachers or other students.

Mom decides to get her life together, so she goes back to school. Since she also has to hold down a job, there is even less time for her child.

Kids are bounced around from Mom's house to Dad's house to Grandma's house, etc. Books, bookbags, homework papers, etc are left or forgotten at one of those houses or in somebody's car on the way to a house. Which one? Your guess is as good as theirs.

Dad, at some point decides that the right thing to do is to take interest in his child's life. Mom may or may not want this. There may be court battles. I've met fathers who have suddenly decided they don't like the way the mother is raising their child, so he decides to sue for custody. They are inevitably proud of this. My unasked question is, "Where were you at the beginning of your child's life?" Some fathers are only a phone call full of empty promises. I watched one day as the biggest, toughest fourth grade boy in the school broke down and threw a tear-filled tantrum becuase his father, once again, had to break a date with him.

One day a little girl was talking about a little boy in the same grade. She told everyone that she was the boy's sister. The little boy said (translated from the original Ebonics), "That's only because your mother's a whore and my daddy did her."

It seems that I've reached the point where I've seen too much reality and I have to reject this simple minded Hollywood fantasy. Yes, I know that there are women who, as single mothers, have raised fine upstanding children. They are not the majority. Raising children with two loving parents is difficult enough. It's irresponsible to present the fantasy that unwed parenthood is just as good, and it's equally irresponsible to pretend that the man who impregnates a woman during a one night stand will step forward and be a responsible father. That rarely happens in the world I live in. In fact, when I meet former students who are now adults and they show off their children to me, I don't even ask about a spouse. The answer might depress me.

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At 2:33 PM, Blogger jennifer said...

Harry excellent post. Tragic, yet sadly true. Hollowood(as I refer to it) glamorizes such deviant behavior to the point that they believe it has become the norm. Unfortunately in most cases it does become so. Your post is a reflective light on why morals and values must have a standard to hold them up to or anyone can set the rules.
Too bad the country is removing the founding of Americas plan, of establishing a country based on Judeo-Christian values, and permitted the PC/liberal fanatics to set up their lack there of, of standards to set the tone.


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