Director Judd Apetow’s new hit comedy Knocked Up appears to have struck some conservative chords. Writing in the current National Review, Ross Douthat calls the movie “a clear-eyed, hopeful, and hilarious celebration of doing the right thing.” It “is exactly the sort of social conservatism we need,” he concludes.
The movie (SPOILER ALERT) centers on Allison Scott (played by Katherine Heigl) an ambitious, successful young woman, and Ben Stone (Seth Rogan), a slacker-stoner. Allison and Ben hook up after a night of drunken partying at a club. A few weeks later, Allison discovers she is pregnant. Happily, both she and Ben eschew the abortion option. And, eventually, Ben dumps the stoner lifestyle, gets a job, and helps provide for Allison and the baby.
It is the decision to see the pregnancy through and Ben’s acceptance of his fatherhood responsibilities that have some conservatives pleased. NRO editor Kathryn Jean Lopez, while ambivalent about the movie, nevertheless states, “That’s the refreshing part of the movie: There’s no question it embraces life. If you stretched optimism a little bit further you would see some kind of ode to marriage in it.”
While I found Knocked Up to be quite funny, I was much less enthused about it than some of my fellow travelers on the right. Whatever pro-life, pro-fatherhood message the movie may have is overshadowed by the way it portrays out-of-wedlock pregnancy. I doubt that most women in that condition are much like Allison Scott. Rather, they tend to be more like Anne and Lisa (not their real names), two young women I knew when I lived in Iowa.
Anne came to move into the apartment underneath mine because the church that both she and my landlords attended asked my landlords if they could help her. They agreed, a decision they would later regret.
When I first met Anne, she already had two kids, a girl and a boy, and was pregnant with her third. Each child, including the one that was not yet born, had a different father. The more I talked to her, the more it became apparent that she was unhappy with the way her life was turning out. “I guess this is what happens when you get pregnant at sixteen,” she once told me. When she gave birth to her third, she was only 21.
Unfortunately, the only one of the fathers that was around was the father of the boy. He can be best described as an abusive knuckle-dragger. It was common for me to hear him yelling at her when I left for work in the morning and when I came home in the evening. It wasn’t long before I began calling the police. They would come, make him leave, after which he would come back. According to Anne, he was 27, had never had a job, and had told Anne that it was her job to take care of him. Finally, the intervention of the landlords stopped him from coming around.
At one point her used car was repossessed by the owner for her failure to keep up on the payments. Feeling sorry for her, and not wanting to see her kids suffer, I loaned her $450 to get the car back. She paid me back only $50 before she skipped town. Sometimes there is a fine line between compassion and stupidity.
My compassion began to wane as, among other things, she let her friends hang around at all hours and let her garbage pile up in the garage we shared. It ran out the day that her government welfare check accidentally ended up in my mailbox. “Nice,” I thought to myself, “she gets to have the kids and I get to pay for them.”
The landlords finally evicted Anne after she failed to pay the rent. A few months later, her name showed up in the newspaper for being arrested for theft. Rumor had it that she had developed a drug habit and that the authorities had taken away her kids.
Sadly, it was more than just a rumor. The last time I saw Anne, I was out for my morning jog. I saw her heading toward the Salvation Army drug treatment center. It took me a few seconds to recognize her as her skin was very pale and there were dark circles under her eyes. And here’s the kicker: she was obviously pregnant with number four!
Lisa was a waitress I met at a casino where I used to play poker. A sweet young woman, she went to college when she wasn’t working. However, she also had a wild side and she got a boyfriend who ended up getting her pregnant.
When I first saw her showing, I pretended to act happy for her. We spoke for a few minutes, and she said that she was moving in with her boyfriend. “I also want to stay in college and finish a degree,” she told me.
For the next few months I was too busy to go down to the casino. When I next saw Lisa, her best-laid plans had gone astray. Her boyfriend was a drunk and she had moved back in with her parents. She no longer had any time to attend college, and was now spending all of her savings on an attorney to make certain that her boyfriend would pay child support.
I saw Lisa one more time before I left Iowa. Her then two-year-old son was developing behavior problems and she was seeking therapy for him. She was going out with her girlfriends after work that day. She planned on doing some drinking, and was going to “let go” about her problems with her girlfriends.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
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It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
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