Discover more from Movie Night
Times Past and Times Coming
The Janes is a horrifying and clear-eyed look at the state of women’s rights in America in the 60s and 70s. To watch with empathy is to experience a barrage of misogyny, apparent in the documented actions of men, institutions, and struggles of women. The Janes is also a crystal ball into the bleak future that people in America face since the overturning of Roe v. Wade on June 24th, 2022.
This movie, at this particular time, might not be for you. If you follow the news or read history, you may not need The Janes to drive home the message of what we lost last week and the cruelty on display in America. But if you know someone who needs the point, and this 4th of July, I’d encourage you to push you to watch The Janes. The film shows us where we’re heading.
This movie is compelling because the filmmakers get out of the way and let the women (and a few men, presumably because only a few men were helping) from pre-Roe v. Wade America tell their stories. The interviewees have political beliefs and opinions, but the film maintains objectivity (in as much as possible) by eschewing narration and on-screen interviewers in favor of long cuts from people of the day explaining the context and the situation of the time. At best, one could come away from the movie feeling empathy for people who need abortions. At worst, one could go away still realizing that banning a medical procedure that will be performed with or without the government creates illicit and unsafe industries, pain, and misery. In simple economic terms, there is a demand for abortions. On this, we can all agree. If there is a demand for something, someone will attempt to meet it. If we make abortion illegal, Jane is coming back regardless of how you feel about it from a moral standpoint. Then what? Jailtime for people
Our country faces a slew of very real problems: some are caused by broader policy failure over time that is difficult to assign singular blame to, and others are caused by truly archaic and brutal worldviews given teeth through a minority of government officials who hold office with the faintest air of legitimacy. Being of a liberal mind, I’m familiar with the need to do everything the “right” way; purity tests, word policing, etc. I’ve engaged in all of this myself, treating trespasses with the highest import and seriousness. The Janes, paired with recent events, isn’t a wake-up call telling us to unite and put aside minor differences to fight for what is right. It’s a wake-up slap in the face telling us to join and put aside petty differences to fight for what is right.
As JANE member Eleanor Oliver says early on in the film, regarding what it takes to start making real change: “ If you start getting serious and start worrying about all these little details, you won’t get anything done. You won’t get anything done.”
If your mental health allows, grab some friends and take the time to watch The Janes this week. Have conversations. Send the HBO link to your family. Give them your login info. HBO won’t mind.
Directed by Tia Lessin and Emma Pildes
Stray Thoughts from the Editor
Happy 4th of July, not that July 4th, 2022 feels remarkably like a day worth celebrating. I suggested to my boss that perhaps we shouldn’t take the day off this year. He encouraged me to come into work on the 4th if that’s how I would prefer to protest. (Touché, Kevin, touché).
A great complement to this movie is a recent conversation between Ezra Klein and Jamal Greene, breaking down how the US gets rights wrong. Hearing about how a conservative country (Germany) approached the issue of abortion was a glimpse into a society that has found a better tactic for government of the people.
I saw Top Gun: Maverick at the Imax in SF last night. That was fun.
Thanks for reading Movie Night. Subscribe for free to receive a recommendation every Monday.