A New Judy Blume Film Refuses to Bow to Woke - The American Spectator | USA News and Politics
A New Judy Blume Film Refuses to Bow to Woke
Abby Ryder Fortson as Margaret in “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret.” official trailer (Lionsgate Movies/YouTube)

The long-awaited film adaptation of Judy Blume’s Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. provides a powerful reminder of the true meaning of becoming a woman to a world that glorifies faux “women” like Lia Thomas and Dylan Mulvaney.

Adapting Blume’s Margaret

Blume’s novel, which has sold over 9 million copies since its release, is a poignant exploration of 11-year-old Margaret Simon’s physical and emotional transition from little girl to pre-teenager. Margaret’s father is Jewish and her mother Christian, and, as a result, she has been raised without religion. She talks to God about everything: moving from New York City to New Jersey, navigating a new school, making friends, choosing a religion, and, of course, her changing body. Will her breasts ever get any bigger? When will she get her period? Will she meet a boy who likes her? Will she ever feel normal? (READ MORE from Leonora Cravotta: Hollywood Wakes Up: Gratitude Replaces Wokeism at This Year’s Oscars)

Despite the popularity of Blume’s book with adolescent girls for the past five decades, adapting it for the big screen was no easy task. There was, of course, concern about the puberty-centered subject matter. Margaret, along with many of Blume’s other works, was often included on elementary school banned book lists. However, the primary barrier was Blume herself, who was reluctant to option Margaret due to concerns that the novel wouldn’t be treated properly on film. Director Kelly Fremon Craig, 42, a Blume fan who had previously directed the coming-of-age comedy Edge of Seventeen (2016), successfully convinced Blume that she would tastefully shepherd her precious creation to the silver screen.

Blume Emphasizes True Womanhood

Fremon Craig is clearly a woman of her word. Blume was reportedly pleased, going so far as to state that the film “is better than the book.” Margaret is a delightful movie that honestly depicts the complex mélange of angst, humor, and wonder that adolescent girls experience. The director deserves praise for remaining faithful to the source material. Moreover, she retained Blume’s 1970 setting. She was not tempted to make the film more “relatable” by situating it in the present day with such accoutrements as cellphones, the internet, Instagram, TikTok, and so on. Furthermore, Fremon Craig did not bow to the progressive choir. There is no injection of gender-fluid characters, no references to white supremacy, and not even a hint of radical environmentalism. She also tastefully illustrated the visual aspects of puberty without sexualizing the film’s young actresses. (RELATED: Broadway Celebrates the Great Woke Way)

The acting, particularly that of Abby Ryder Fortson (Margaret) and the actresses who play her friends — Elle Graham (Nancy), Amari Alexis Price (Janie), and Katherine Mallen Kupferer (Gretchen) — is very natural and believable. Rachel McAdams and Kathy Bates, cast as Margaret’s mother Barbara and paternal grandmother Sylvia, respectively, also deliver top-notch performances.

While the film’s plot largely dovetails with that of Blume’s novel, one notable exception is made: The book is exclusively told through Margaret’s perspective, but the film dedicates part of its narrative to Barbara. The added focus on Barbara, who is also experiencing a personal transition — from city to suburb and from working woman to stay-at-home mom — acts in parallel to Margaret’s story.

Blume’s Refreshing Woke Antidote

Margaret may be drawn from fifty-year-old source material, but it gives me hope that our Judeo-Christian values have not been completely surrendered to radical progressive ideology. As I watched this film with my sister and adult niece, I was transported back to my adolescence in the late 1970s and early 1980s. And while that time period was hardly devoid of problems, our social and biological orientations were pretty straightforward. Girls were socialized to become women, and boys were raised to become men. Margaret and her friends look forward to becoming women. I am not sure if that is the case anymore for today’s girls. 

Everything that we have held to be true from a scientific, psychological, and sociological perspective has been turned on its head — and not in a good way. Instead of teaching our children how to deal with the complex emotions associated with adolescence, we give them license to turn their bodies into science projects. We say that is okay to take puberty blockers, cut their breasts off, and mutilate their genitals with little thought given to the numerous future ramifications, such as infertility and other physical and psychological side effects.

Bridging the gap from childhood to adulthood has always been difficult and fraught with anxiety. Judy Blume understood that, and she wrote books like Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret. to help tweens and teens face their natural trepidation about the unknown. Kelly Fremon Craig is to be commended for showcasing Margaret with a comforting, witty, and thought-provoking film that can be enjoyed by today’s women and their daughters.

Leonora Cravotta
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Leonora Cravotta is Director of Operations with The American Spectator, a position she previously held at The American Conservative. She also co-hosts a show on Red State Talk Radio. She previously held marketing positions with JPMorgan Chase and TD Bank. Leonora received a BA in English/French from Denison University, an MA in English from the University of Kentucky, and an MBA in Marketing from Fordham University. She writes about literature and popular culture.
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