Tuesday, April 17, 2012

"What to Expect when You're Expecting" Movie looks like Garbage

What did I expect?

I think that the book, What to Expect when You're Expecting is an outdated and cliche reference guide that could stand to be put down in a big way. Everyone gets it early on, either as a baby shower gift or as something to get pumped up while you wait that really long nine months. My best advice for this book is the trashcan. You might be able to start a pretty convincing fire with it, if you're not into waste. The book is a giant fear-monger--it imposes on you notions of dread and foreboding. According to the book, you are just a cliche and terrible person incapable of independent thought and personal freedom. You are the embodiment of every negative stereotype associated with the newly pregnant. You are a child who needs to be told what to believe and to do; you do not think for yourself. Get rid of this book and seek out more helpful texts.

When I heard that they were turning this book into a movie, I was full of questions. Was it to be an instructional movie told in the second-person perspective? Were only the newly pregnant to watch it? Would it be full of every worse-case scenario in pregnancy, forcing viewers to suppose that every twitch in their pregnant gut was the sign of miscarried twins and a hospital should be visited immediately? In other words, was it to be a faithful adaptation?

No, no it's not. I've sat through the preview too many times now--like twice--and it is obvious that what's going on here is a book adaptation in name-recognition only. This shouldn't be surprising; if you want a budget for a film these days, the title of your film must suggest the existence of a "built-in" audience, full of name associations (did you know they're basing a movie on the board-game "Battleship?" This would be fun if audience members each had a little board and got to play along). This is a fictional movie, and based on the preview alone, it's full of cliches about what it means to transition to parenthood.

According to the media at large, it is a dreadful thing to become a father. Think of all the products and props you have to buy and surround yourself with. Think of all those Baby-Bjorns you have to adorn yourself with. And you have to hang out with other dads who suck at being dads and who supply themselves with parenting products and who enjoy getting flirted with by passing teenagers. This is the picture painted by this movie preview. Know-nothing dads support each other through stereotypes of every ilk.

It reinforces the low expectation of fatherhood that our culture has come to embrace.

It's going to be a long time before we see a movie that shows a realistic and positive portrayal of the building of a family. What to Expect when You're Expecting has built itself up on stirring the embers of fear, taking advantage of the insecurities one brings to the birthing table and offering you a way to channel your anxieties through consumerism and medical intervention. Stay away from this book and, at least until I'm proven wrong, stay away from this movie.

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