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Me for First Things: “Unplanned” isn’t the greatest movie–what’s great about it is that it has the mainstream-media film critics in a panic

April 17, 2019
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From my latest for First Things:

But [U.K. Guardian film critic Jordan] Hoffman’s real beef with Unplanned wasn’t the gore. It was the pro-life message—a message Hoffman found so alarming that he couldn’t stop talking about it, hauling in every extraneous argument he could think of: An African-American Planned Parenthood patient defies her weeping mother to stride into the clinic—so that means the movie must be racist. The Christian group Coalition for Life, whose members pray outside the clinic fence and beg patients to change their minds, “shames women.” The Bryan clinic finally goes out of business (as it did in real life), so Hoffman grumbles about “restricting women from their own constitutionally protected reproductive health.” In his last sentence he announces, “I’ll be making a donation to Planned Parenthood.” Is he a film critic or a pro-choice shill?

Hoffman is not alone in his personal investment. Forbes film critic Luke Y. Thompson announces in his review: “I have utilized Planned Parenthood for emergency birth control in the past.” Like Hoffman, Thompson works in a racism angle: Since Abby and most of the Coalition for Life people are white (as are 70 percent of Texans), “Unplanned ultimately posits the most bland whiteness as the ultimate signal of Christian goodness.” Thompson makes much of the fact that $1 million of the movie’s budget came from MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who—horror of horrors—contributed to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Lindell plays a cameo role in the film as a construction worker who knocks down the Planned Parenthood sign after the clinic folds. Thompson concludes: “[I]f you like Trump rallies, especially the ones featuring Mike Pence, this is probably the movie for you.”

Chicago Tribune reviewer Owen Gleiberman focuses almost exclusively on abortion politics. “The movie comes on like it’s trying to make converts, but what it’s really doing is mobilizing those on the pro-life side to come out and vote for politicians who will step up the legal assault on abortion rights,” Gleiberman writes. “‘Unplanned’…does a skillful job of using religious piety to conceal its underlying political agenda…It may look like it’s preaching, but it’s really campaigning.” And in case the reader didn’t get the message: “Unplanned” isn’t a good movie, but it’s effective propaganda.”

Read the whole thing here.

Posted by Charlotte Allen

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