Redeeming Qualities

It sure is interesting what passes for “redeeming” in anti-choice circles. Anti-choice columnist Jill Stanek writes about the Kevin Costner movie Mr. Brooks, in which the lead character is a serial killer — a serial killer who, she says, is given the redeeming characteristic of being pro-life (um, irony?).

In Mr. Brooks, the teenage daughter of serial killer Earl Brooks (Costner) turns up pregnant midway through her first semester of college. When Jane tells her parents, Earl emphatically states abortion is out of the question and offers to raise the baby. Jane is equally emphatically abortion minded until that moment, when she says she will reconsider. Typical. If a mother in a crisis pregnancy is offered love and support, she will most often choose life.

I won’t give away the end of Mr. Brooks except to say the prospect of his seeing future grandchild became Earl’s motivation for a life or death decision.

All of this is way twisted, I know. But similar to Godfather II, even a schizophrenic serial killer knows abortion is wrong, and similar to Godfather II, this became a redeeming quality of one who had no others.

I have no idea as to the intentions of the screenwriters in Mr. Brooks, but I’m not sure his anti-choice stance was “an obviously planned juxtaposition,” intended as “Mr. Brooks’ one featured nobility, something they decided demonstrated the exact opposite of the schizophrenic killer mentality.” Now, I haven’t seen the movie, but from the trailer it looks like Mr. Brooks is into control and perfection — and so perhaps his anti-choice stance isn’t so much to redeem him as it is to illustrate his desire to cruelly control other people. Plus, you know, a pro-life serial killer — it’s perfect cinematic irony.

Stanek, then, brands this a “pro-life” movie — along with The Godfather II. And she does a pretty bang-up job of illustrating how the anti-choice mentality is tied to control and abuse of women — she even promotes hitting your wife as a justifiable response to her having an abortion:

One of the best scenes in the Godfather movie trilogy was in “Godfather II,” when Kay Corleone (Diane Keaton) told her husband Michael (Al Pacino) she was taking their two children and leaving him. The dialogue:

Michael: Do you expect me to let you take my children from me?…. Don’t you know that’s an impossibility, that that could never happen, that I’d use all my power to keep something like that from ever happening?…. I know you blame me for losing the baby. Yes. I know what that meant to you. Kay. I swear I’ll make it up to you…. I’ll change. And you’ll forget about this miscarriage, and we’ll have another child, and we’ll go on, you and I, we’ll go on.

Kay: Oh – oh, Michael, Michael, you are blind. It wasn’t a miscarriage. It was an abortion, an abortion, Michael! Just like our marriage is an abortion, something that’s unholy and evil. I didn’t want your son, Michael! I wouldn’t bring another one of your sons into this world! It was an abortion, Michael. It was a son, a son, and I had it killed, because this must all end. I know now that it’s over. I knew it then. There would be no way, Michael, no way you could ever forgive me, not with this Sicilian thing that’s been going on for 2,000 years….

SLAP.

Michael: You won’t take my family!

And she doesn’t.

That spontaneous slap was the reaction of a real man who a woman had just told she aborted his baby. Compare that to the modern day cowardly male response, “It’s your choice. Whatever you decide, I’ll support you.” Or worse, his threat to abandon her if she does not abort.

It was this fierce devotion to family that strangely endeared us to the Corleone men despite their otherwise heinous behavior.

That’s the right-wing, “pro-life” definition of ‘family’ for ya: A wife who you can control and slap around. Of course, Don Corleone was a murderer and a criminal (didn’t he kill his own brother? and didn’t he end up basically getting his daughter killed?), but so long as he’s pro-life and hits his wife when she steps out of line, he’s the image of a real Family Man. If I remember correctly, Corleone was specifically angry because he wanted a male child, and Kaye emphasized that had she continued the pregnancy, the baby would have been a boy — I suppose that falls pretty well in line with pro-life family values, too.

A few of Stanek’s commenters take issue with her promotion of domestic violence, but most of the anti-DV comments come from pro-choice readers. A lot of the anti-choicers seem to revel in seeing/reading about an uppity aborting bitch being put in her place. The first comment on her Mr. Brooks post says:

I sounds like what my friend Bob did to his ex wife. They were still married at the time of this incident. He explained that he and his wife were fighting. The fight escalated, and she turned around and yelled “Well, I was pregnant, but I took care of it.” “I went and had the little bastard sucked out of me.” *gasp* I asked him what he did. He replied “I slapped the sh*t out of her.”

Now there’s a “real man.”

You see, pro aborts support the murdering of children, however when it comes to other issues, they suddenly become these “bastions of tolerance.” Domestic violence? I think he snapped. Abortion is murder. The act is wrong. Domestic violence is also wrong. You can’t condone one and loathe the other.

I can also say that the lady must have been a real trash bag. Who says things like that? She meant to be malicious. I think he should have shoved a bar of soap in her mouth.

She killed his baby! What’s worse? The baby killer, or the woman beater?

And from the Godfather II post:

As for the character of “Kay” well that’s what we get when we marry a straniero/a (non-Italian). She’s not the only bride that deserved to be slapped but since Diane Keaton is such an annoying actress it is fun to see her get it.

Regarding Kay the unworthy marrying Michael, in words that any Irishman could understand:
NEVER MIX, NEVER WORRY.

Should a women who commits murder ever be subject to the death penalty? That’s pretty violent isn’t it? What about a woman who kills her own children? What makes women so sacred that they are exempt from the consequences of their actions? Just because they are female?

And then there are Stanek’s own follow-up comments:

As I responded earlier, my point was if a man has just been told a woman has killed his child, I would not fault him for responding with a slap. I cannot think of a better reason for righteous indignation.

The “real man” comparison was to that of a coward or someone who would threaten to leave a woman if she doesn’t kill his baby.

I’m not saying a slap in the a fit of anger is Scriptural. Jesus turned over tables but didn’t hit people. But I do understand, and in my opinion the man who has that reaction is more of a man than the other two.

Ingrid, one slap does not domestic violence make. Up until that shocking moment, speaking strictly of Michael as husband and father, he was ideal. He didn’t drink, refused to womanize, shielded Kay with his body when mobsters splattered the bedroom with bullets, and was affectionate and attentive to Kay and loving and proud of their children.

The slap demonstrated how horrible Michael considered abortion, a strange thing for a mobster, certainly, but showing there was good in him, although obviously misplaced.

In fact, Michael killed his own brother because Freddo played a part in mobsters attacking Michael’s family at home.

In actuality, who was the one really guilty of “domestic violence”? Kay.

Gotta love pro-life family values.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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72 Responses to Redeeming Qualities

  1. Mnemosyne says:

    Ingrid, one slap does not domestic violence make. Up until that shocking moment, speaking strictly of Michael as husband and father, he was ideal. He didn’t drink, refused to womanize, shielded Kay with his body when mobsters splattered the bedroom with bullets, and was affectionate and attentive to Kay and loving and proud of their children.

    Uh, no. He wasn’t. That’s the whole point of the ending of The Godfather, and it carries over to the sequel: Michael cuts Kay out of his life and treats her as a piece of property. He protects her during the attack the same way he would protect his dog. To Michael, his wife is an object to be controlled and manipulated, not a person with a mind of her own.

    Jesus, I hate when people who know absolutely nothing about film try to analyze movies. Especially when they completely misinterpret everything that they see.

  2. Natalia says:

    My retinas are burning. What a super-special menagerie.

    I’ve seen “Mr. Brooks,” an awful movie – but one that certainly doesn’t promote “pro-life” (what a deceptive word that is) values. In fact, by the end, it seems fairly obvious that Kevin Costner’s murderous legacy will probably continue in the most twisted of ways.

  3. Betty Boondoggle says:

    So, family values means anything that benefits men (and their arbitrary, constantly shifting standards) and subjects women to the most abuse.

    Oh yeah, sign me up!

  4. Linnaeus says:

    I don’t get the comparison to Godfather II, either. He had redeeming qualities at the start of The Godfather, but lost them as he got more and more involved with the “family business”. I take that scene with Kay to show not Michael’s nobility, but as an illustration of his larger struggle with what he had become in contrast with the person he though he could still be.

  5. Vicky says:

    I can’t even fathom the thinking behind those comments…What a twisted view…

  6. Christina says:

    This illustrates how avoidance of cognitive dissonance in a social setting works. When you are praising serial killers and mobsters as models of “pro-life” philosophy and justifying their abuse of living people, you’ve gone ’round the bend. But those people will never see it. They will reinforce each other’s insanity and ‘correct’ the few who feel somehow that something isn’t quite right with this.

  7. Ashley says:

    I haven’t seen the Godfather II in years, but what I do remember was that you aren’t endeared to Michael because of his morality and nobility, but his humanity. It was fascinating to watch a relatively decent man fit into this role that had been left for him, and have that role turn him into a monster. That seemed to me to be the entire point at the end of Godfather I; you see Michael has taken on the full mantle of his father’s power, and largely lose his independent identity.

    I do find it just appalling that these people can’t even be logically consistent at the most basic face-value. I thought pro-life was supposed to be pro, oh, I don’t know, life?

  8. Caren says:

    That spontaneous slap was the reaction of a real man who a woman had just told she aborted his baby. Compare that to the modern day cowardly male response,

    I don’t know. Seems to me that reacting with violence to Kaye’s independence and refusal to be another “family” woman and simply go to church and pray for Michael’s soul is rather cowardly.

    Kaye makes it absolutely clear that Michael is a monster and that she won’t live the lie. She *knows* going in that Michael will never forgive her for having an abortion–that’s one of the reasons she has one. How else could she get away from the Don? He’d never ‘let her leave’.

    Michael strikes out b/c he still tries to believe he’s a good man, and that the bad things he does are “just business”. He’s an evil sociopath, and when Kaye brings that home to him, he responds in a manner totally true to his psycho self–with violence.

    The ease with which so many of those commenters are willing to forgive and support Michael makes me ill. What a real man he is.

  9. Jeff Fecke says:

    He didn’t drink, refused to womanize

    Well, except for that whole part where he was exiled in Sicily and married another woman, until she got blown up. But otherwise, spot on.

  10. Professor Fate says:

    Sweet mercy how do these people function with so much hate in their hearts?

    Per the scene in Godfather II – I always got the sense that Michael slapped Kay not just because she had an abortion – it was because she was telling him the truth about himself, that he was a monster and he couldn’t take the view in the mirror.

    later in the film Michael has his brother shot in the head – who had earlier tired to kill him. This is a role model?

  11. Betty Boondoggle says:

    I always got the sense that Michael slapped Kay not just because she had an abortion – it was because she was telling him the truth about himself, that he was a monster and he couldn’t take the view in the mirror.

    Bingo bango. He needed her to believe he was still not a bad guy so that he could continue lying to himself about it. That speech of hers makes it damn clear that she no longer believes he is anything but a monster. And after she leaves, he becomes exactly that.

  12. norbizness says:

    Hey, he got struck by the thunderbolt.

    Now can someone get on to the really important issue, i.e. how the fucking fuck does Dane Cook appear in multiple movies*, some of which aren’t even comedies, which is just as well, because he’s about as funny as the assassination of Archduke Franz-Ferdinand*?

    * this is topical because he’s in Mr. Brooks. Don’t ask me how or why I know that.

    ** the number one comedy-killer, if memory serves. And it does.

  13. tannenburg says:

    Now, now, now…remember, life is sacred in the womb, but after the baby’s born it’s open season to abuse or kill him or her. In a meta-sense, perhaps it falls under the same sort of mentality that prompted the Inquisition – wrack the body to save the soul – for the soul’s what’s important. Once the baby’s been born and baptized, you can kill him or her, ’cause then he or she is destined to be saved…while an unborn child doesn’t have the chance to accept salvation yet!

  14. Cola Johnson says:

    I just saw Mr Brooks… apart from being a fairly mediocre film, I agree that his stance against his daughter’s abortion had more to do with his desire to control her. The scene plays out with her insisting, without losing composure, that he has no right to make that choice for her, at which point he concedes and says instead that he’d just be ecstatic about having a grandchild.

    And because she’s eager for a number of reasons to stay in her parents’ good graces, this option appeals to her. The movie therefore manages to avoid taking a stand on the issue.

  15. Deborah says:

    It kills me when people refuse to understand art except through the narrow lens of their own politics (even if I agree with their politics). These crazy ass motherfuckers are admiring Michael Corleone. That’s…unthinkable. He’s a monster.

    The whole point of The Godfather, to me, is family legacy. Michael wants to be “American” not “Italian-American,” so he marries an American WASP. This is symbolic of his attempt to become himself, and not merely his father’s son. In the end, though, the family system sucks him back in, and he is not Michael anymore at all, merely the son of Vito. Hence, Kay’s abortion is her declaration of the hopelessness of the situation, that the only way for her son to NOT be son-of-Michael; grandson-of-Vito, is for her son not to be born at all.

    In addition to admiring Michael as “pro-life,” I have to say the second-craziest comment is admiring Michael as a good husband because he doesn’t booze or cheat. Geez Pete, are their standards so low? He’s “ideal” because of that? My idea of an ideal husband has to do with love and kindness and attention, as well as, oh, say…not murdering people. It’s an affirmative list, not just a list of crimes the husband doesn’t commit!

    But that’s part of the anti-female rhetoric. If a husband doesn’t booze or cheat, a wife has no right to complain, because she has no right to human decency as long as these major lines aren’t crossed.

  16. r@d@r says:

    i don’t get it…i don’t get it….i just don’t get this “abortion = murdering children” thing. i’ve been hearing it for decades now and i still don’t get it. there’s no science to back it up, nothing in the bible…..it’s just a fantasy, like believing hobbits are real. sure, if abortion WAS the absolute equivalent of “murdering children”, hell, I’d be against it too! who the hell wouldn’t? but no – they are convinced that we’re all a bunch of crazy child murderers. if that’s the case, why the hell should we be wasting our time on our own defenseless fetuses? let’s bomb some christian elementary schools! oh wait, killing actual real live children…..that’s patriotic, if they’re iraqi children. maybe we should tell these people that we’re bombing fetuses in iraq – then maybe they’ll get angry!

    religious fanatacism – it’s one of the worst flavors of mob mentality. just an abandonment of reason in favor of anti-intellectual righteous rage. “let’s go burn those baby murdering witchezzzzzzzzzz!!!”

    i just can’t figure it out at all. and i’m a great big jesus freak, too.

  17. Beth says:

    She killed his baby!

    The comments keep saying this over and over: “his baby.” Not hers, not theirs, but HIS.
    Could it be any more clear that they believe the husband/father OWNS the other family members?

  18. micheyd says:

    if they’re iraqi children. maybe we should tell these people that we’re bombing fetuses in iraq – then maybe they’ll get angry!

    Funny story, a friend of mine asked an outwardly “pro-life” and pro-Iraq-war person about all the fetuses being killed in Iraq, you know, inside women who are being bombed to hell there. Their response was, basically, is that people who die in iraq are “not innocent”. I swear you could have heard my jaw drop on hearing that one.

  19. Beth says:

    hmm, emphasis was supposed to be around “HIS” in that previous comment.

    But has anyone else been having server-error problems when trying to view/post comments here for the past couple days? Or is it just me? (my workplace filters can create all sorts of weirdness, at times)

  20. Christina says:

    I’ve noticed that ‘innocence’ thing too in the pro-lifer speech, but I’ve never quite been able to sus out a definition of innocence from what they say.

    Fetal life is innocent.

    Women are not–not even the raped ones, even the 12 yr old ones.

    Men are innocent, and victims if the woman has an abortion.

    Blacks and browns aren’t innocent–they are irresponsible.

    There’s a thread in there but I don’t want to know what it is–it’s ugly.

  21. tyro says:

    How the fuck do these people not recognize domestic violence when they see it?

    Haven’t they ever heard of abusive men who poke holes in their condoms or mess with their girlfriend’s birth control to get her pregnant? When that happens, they make sure she won’t get an abortion because they assume she’ll stay for the kid’s sake. It’s a matter of control, not nobility!

    What the fuck, man. I’m nineteen years old and I know that.

  22. Em says:

    Fetal life is innocent.

    You know, I always wondered how original sin fits in there. Is the uterus a magic shield that keeps the fetus pure? That contradicts the doctrine* that when a soul is conceived that sin is already there. Is the vaginal canal stained with original sin and the kid gets smeared with it on the way out? B/c that contradicts the doctrine that original sin is removed with baptism and that no (baptized) adult has it.

    Where is original sin from and how and when does it afflict the new life?

    *Catholic doctrine

  23. JB says:

    From Godfather II:

    It was an abortion, an abortion, Michael! Just like our marriage is an abortion, something that’s unholy and evil. I didn’t want your son, Michael! I wouldn’t bring another one of your sons into this world! It was an abortion, Michael. It was a son, a son, and I had it killed, because this must all end. I know now that it’s over.

    From Stanek:

    It was this fierce devotion to family that strangely endeared us to the Corleone men despite their otherwise heinous behavior.

    I agree with Deborah about the pitfalls of interpreting movies through a political lense, instead of engaging them on their own terms. In this case it seems like Stanek and her commenters have missed the obvious, which is that abortion in Godfather II is a metaphor for the Corleone’s marriage, not an invitation to delve into Michael Corleone’s positions on family planning (or maybe I have a foolishly literal reading of the line “JUST LIKE OUR MARRIAGE IS AN ABORTION”?).

    It’s clear from Kay’s speech that she thinks abortion is evil and unholy, but chose to get one anyway because she thinks her marriage is even worse than that. At the very least that makes it difficult to argue that Michael’s views on abortion mean that he’s not all bad. The point isn’t Michael’s views on abortion. The point is that Michael is an abortion–in the metaphorical, as opposed to medical or political, sense of that term.

    And it’s a profoundly disturbing reading of this scene to see it as a vindication of Michael Corleone’s “devotion to family.” Again: in the metaphor of the film Michael is the abortion. He, not his wife or a medical procedure, is responsible for the destruction of his family. There is no artificial separation between his “fierce devotion to family” and his “otherwise heinous behavior.” He destroys everything he touches.

    I think it’s open to interpretation whether this scene implies an objective judgment about abortion (as opposed to simply using Kay and Michael’s view of it as a jumping-off point for the metaphor), but it seems indisputable that any bad thing Stanek wants to say about abortion in this context would also have to apply to Michael Corleone.

  24. annejumps says:

    Em, that is a good point.

  25. Jovan1984 says:

    Well, all anti-choicers are opposed to civil rights at every turn. They are all also MRAs. So, nothing about anti-choicers surprise me nowadays.

  26. Cara says:

    People. Are. Crazy.

    I’m going to have nightmares. Can we please bookmark this post and keep it around for whenever anti-choicers start claiming that what they really care about is the well-being of women, and that in opposing abortion, they’re not trying to control women. Because shown this in the face of those arguments, what the fuck do you say?

  27. Kitty M says:

    Em:
    Naw, it’s exposure to air that conveys original sin, because babies delivered by ceasarian are also inflicted. (No vaginal canal contact.)

  28. Em, Kitty is almost right.

    The soul enters the body with the first breath, per Genesis 2:7,
    “And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.”

    Until that first breath, you have a human (or a potential human before 22 weeks) who is not yet ensouled.

    As for the rest of us, who weren’t created by the god called LORD, we kinda make do with whatever Mother decided to give us.

  29. brandann says:

    ok…i used to read that blog b/c i once thought that in fairness i should try to see why and how the “other side” forms their opinions…and i had to stop b/c i was getting so angry…jill stanek is so disgustingly self righteous and closed minded it made me ill…but the commenters, when they can acutally stick to talking about the post and not whining about their boyfriend problems (seriously, i was chewed a new one by a regular commenter b/c i called out her view and personal attack on me b/c “this is NOT the day to call me catty”, not b/c of my comment), they are disturbingly racist, sexist nuts who think that we kill babies for standard birth control. i also get a lot of classist responses, but i didn’t think that they would go as far as to condone violence…but i guess if you can say it’s ok to murder an abortion provider b/c he murders “babies” then anything goes…

    but i really shouldn’t sugar coat how i feel about jill stanek or her blog/commenters

  30. Katy says:

    It is extremely frightening that Stanek portrays The Godfather’s Michael Corleone as a representation of a “fiercely devoted family man” – he is a mobster who kills people to get what he wants, puts his entire family in danger, and beats his wife. What a fabulous combination…

    It is odd that she points out that the mentally ill person in the movie agrees with her and yet she seems to think this is a good thing. Rather, she should use that point to reevaluate her position. She also points out that the serial killer is “pro-life” which is humorous. She seems to view it as a “character trait” as opposed to blatant hypocrisy. I am sure that is how most anti-choice folks see themselves though – they want to kill everyone *after* they are born – just not *before*. Well, that makes sense. Or not.

  31. Cecily says:

    This is drastically off-topic, but yesterday I saw Camille Paglia gush about 2001: A Space Odyssey, and I’m 100% with Comment #1:

    Jesus, I hate when people who know absolutely nothing about film try to analyze movies. Especially when they completely misinterpret everything that they see.

    In a strange way, Paglia analyzing 2001 is the same thing as Stanek analyzing Godfather II — the text is irrelevant, they are reading themselves reflected to them in whatever shiny surface they see.

  32. Coldorderful says:

    The only man who doesn’t actually at least attempt to kill a family member is Sonny, and he has that whole having a bunch of neglected kids with other women thing going on to mitigate his devotion to family. Even Vito pits his family members against each other, he doesn’t want it for Michael but that assumes that Sonny and Fredo are probably going to have to be sacrificed for Michael’s freedom. And nobody (except Sonny) gives a rat’s ass about Connie or what she wants, she doesn’t figure at all in the hierarchy of devotion. Yeah, those are some great family values.

  33. Blunderbuss says:

    I also love how they’re excusing domestic violence here. “Oh, it was awful, but it was a spur of the moment thing! He was just so upset! After all, she killed his baby!”

    Yeah, hitting a woman is all understandable if she does something bad. Wait, what the hell am I doing? I’m trying to justify this shit.

  34. Em says:

    No, Angelia. For Catholics, at least, original sin is conveyed in the womb. Or else there’d have been no need for Mary’s Immaculate Conception, which would have been instead Mary’s Immaculate Birth.

  35. DrunkenFlicka says:

    Em; that is true

    But even the Catholic Church had a lot of trouble with the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception through its history because there were so many different views on ensoulment; most traditional Catholic views on ensoulment stated that it happened well into the first trimester of a pregnancy when the fetus was animated. Thomas Aquinas denied the Immaculate Conception largely because of his difficulties reconciling it with ensoulment in mid pregnancy, and the doctrine was not officially formulated in its current form until 1848. Which is also around the time when Abortion began to be considered “murder” that sends little babies to limbo.

    The very early Church didn’t give it much thought when a child was ensouled or affected by original sin before birth, and baptism was conditional for miscarraiges or still births, using wording something like “If you be a human life.” Any prohibition of abortion in the early church was not considered murder, but was related to the Church’s prohibition of contraception, which was related to negative views of human sexuality. The whole “Abortion is murder” this is a very recent invention, expecially now that Contraception and sex for pleasure is so widely accepted.

    The Old Testament and Jewish tradition explicitly gives the value of a woman’s life as higher than a fetus; the punishment for murder is death in the OT, but causeing a woman to miscarry is punished by giving her husband a few goats or something like that.

    If even the Catholic Church has had so much trouble figuring out philosophically when life turns into an ensouled “Person”, how much more should individual women be able to make that choice themselves when it involves their own concrete lives and bodies!

    And people who think violence against women is okay for any reason can just go to hell. Period.

    And some of the posters on that Stanek website are just insane. I read it regualarly with my morning coffee as a daily dose of crazy just to get my blood up and ready for the workday.

  36. MizDarwin says:

    Now, Dexter, there’s a serial killer with a conscience. I can just imagine this dialogue:

    Rita: Dexter, I’m pregnant. But I don’t want the baby, I’m just not ready to be a mother again.
    Dexter: Well, it’s your body, Rita. And I’m not exactly … pro-life. You want me to get Deb to take you to the clinic, and I’ll stay here with Cody and Aster and have dinner ready for us all when you get back?

  37. Pingback: Pandagon :: The fetus people have a gangster fantasy :: November :: 2007

  38. ElleBeMe says:

    The slap demonstrated how horrible Michael considered abortion, a strange thing for a mobster, certainly, but showing there was good in him, although obviously misplaced.

    Anyone who has READ MArio Puzio’s The Godfather knows that the Corleone family profits from abortions…..ya know back in the days when they were illegal and the “pro-life” people didn’t care.

    So it is rather amusing to see the patriarch of the Corleone Family depicted as a “good pro-life” mobster who profited from abortions….

    I wonder if Jill would ever pick up the book and read it….and what her reaction would be to the chapter when a newborn is tossed into an incinerator – ALIVE – after her Irish mother was shot because she bore the illigetimate child of a gangster?

  39. annejumps says:

    Trailer Park at Pandagon pointed out Stanek’s more recent column in which she calls women stupid and gullible because birth control pills can have side effects, but men, being much smarter, are waiting until they can have a birth control pill without side effects.

  40. J.B. says:

    I am aghast over the “one slap does not domestic violence make”. I knew someone who was hit once by her partner and it definitely did domestic violence make. Because there was always that threat of violence lingering in everyone of their fights for the 2 more years she was with him. Domestic violence isn’t just about the actual violence inflicted, but about the intimidation that goes with it.

  41. Em says:

    @ 35: one of the many thorny reasons I am no longer Catholic. ;) Purgatory, anyone?

  42. flea says:

    Jesus Christ.

  43. No One of Consequence says:

    Jesus turned over tables but didn’t hit people.

    Ahem. Jesus calls bullshit:

    13When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. 15So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. 16To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!”

    The enemies of Christ used religion to make a personal profit while attacking faith.

    Jesus didn’t just hit people, he whipped them.

    Jesus didn’t just hit people, he hit fundies.

  44. Shira says:

    The “one slap does not domestic violence make” is mind-bending. What is it with men who think they get one free-be? It’s the same mindset that doesn’t want those Poor Young Boys’ Lives Ruined over One Tiny Mistake. Anyone remember that one case a few months back where the man stabbed his wife 47 times, strangled her, then slit her throat in a “suicide pact”? He said she literally asked for it, but the poor dear, he was just too tired after all that stabbing to off himself.

    I posted that on facebook, and this douchebag ex-friend commented that “Well, his son defended him, so he MUST have been a decent guy before all this.”

    Yea, everyone is decent until they start stabbing and hitting their wives!

  45. Cooper says:

    I guess Stanek didn’t read the original novel – there’s a whole subplot in The Godfather about a woman who has an abortion, falls in love with the doctor who performs the abortion, and lives happily ever after.

  46. ElleBeMe says:

    I guess Stanek didn’t read the original novel – there’s a whole subplot in The Godfather about a woman who has an abortion, falls in love with the doctor who performs the abortion, and lives happily ever after.

    LOL….yep…and who did the MD work for, perform abortions for? The Corleone family…..they sent him business….

  47. sophonisba says:

    I am aghast over the “one slap does not domestic violence make”. I knew someone who was hit once by her partner and it definitely did domestic violence make. Because there was always that threat of violence lingering in everyone of their fights for the 2 more years she was with him.

    That’s terrible, but it’s not why it “definitely did domestic violence make.” It was not domestic violence because she was afraid of it happening again It was domestic violence BECAUSE HE HIT HER.

    If she had known with absolute certainty that he would never do it again, and felt no fear, it would make no difference to the fact that he committed domestic violence. Because he hit her.

  48. Seraph says:

    Okay, and can this Irishman, with his Dominican wife and his half-Mexican nephew and niece just say that he wants to take a crowbar to someone for that “Never mix, Never Worry” line?

    Whoever said that, you are a disgrace to our people.

  49. Mickle says:

    Dexter: Well, it’s your body, Rita. And I’m not exactly … pro-life.

    Oh, dear god, that was funny.

    The topic? These posts by Jill and Amanda about gangster movies just confirm my opinion that I’m not really missing anything by giving them a pass. Except maybe some insight into the American psyche that would be informative but extremely depressing.

  50. Jeff Fecke says:

    I really am flummoxed by Stanek’s position. Always, but especially in this piece. Part of the power of that scene is that Kay is not proud of her actions. She didn’t want the abortion, but she had it because she believed that the termination of her pregnancy was the only way to prevent her possible son from becoming like his father. She knew how Michael had been twisted, all along the way, by his decision to take over the family business. She knew Michael’s soul had rotted away. She knew Michael had killed — how many? Dozens? Hundreds — either personally or through his functionaries. And she felt she could commit what she believed to be a sin, because it was for the greater good.

    And that’s the irony of the scene, because Kay’s sacrifice is an echo of Michael’s sacrifice, her sin an echo of his sin. Michael kills to save his family’s life. Kay kills (I would not view it as such, but she does) to save her family’s soul. And Michael, a classic tragic figure in a long line from Oedipus on down, slaps Kay not out of anger at the abortion, but because for a second, he knows she’s right, horribly, precisely right. But like any tragic figure, he already pushed the boulder, already made the mistake, and now he’s riding disaster down into the depths.

    That’s the power of that scene, and why it resonates. It’s why The Godfather and The Godfather II are rightly viewed as two of the greatest films in American cinema. Because Michael is a tragic hero, like Creon, like Hamlet, and his failure is evident. Only someone too twisted up in her own rhetoric to see could view Michael Corleone as anything other than a monster. Indeed, even Corleone views himself as such.

  51. Cecily says:

    Mickle — mostly gangster movies leave me cold, but Donnie Brasco is well worth seeing, because it more explicitly wrangles with the questions of why people find this stuff alluring when it’s morally terrifying. It’s based on the experiences of a real-world undercover FBI agent.

  52. ekf says:

    Well, except for that whole part where he was exiled in Sicily and married another woman, until she got blown up. But otherwise, spot on.

    Thank you! I thought I was losing my mind for a minute there, thinking, “never cheated”?!?! Didn’t he marry another woman in Sicily?!? Stanek is terrifyingly pig ignorant.

  53. Gus says:

    Stay tuned for Stanek’s refreshing new take on “A Clockwork Orange”.
    That Alex was a pretty bad case, but we get to see his redeeming qualities when he and his buddies break into a bitch’s house and gang-rape her.

  54. MM says:

    SPOILER WARNING:

    DO NOT READ THIS COMMENT IF YOU WANT TO SEE MR. BROOKS

    LAST WARNING – THE POINT OF THE MOVIE WILL BE SPOILED

    The huge irony about Mr. Brooks is this: His daughter had come home from college not because she was pregnant, but because she killed somebody. Yes. Brooks’ mental illness, or murderous proclivities, or whatever they were had been passed down to his daughter. The irony of the movie was that keeping the baby meant that, most likely, more people were going to be murdered. The fact that the baby was not aborted was the most chilling part of the movie – Brooks was, for whatever reason, ensuring an enduring legacy of death and pain for innocent people because of his own blindness to reality because he expected morality from other people, but not from himself or his family.

    Stanek is proving the pro-choice point by making her pro-life point. Wonderful.

  55. hf says:

    No, no, you’re allowed to cheat before you marry. This probably has something to do with the stereotype of men as rational beings pigs who should rule stupid bestial women need marriage to civilize them.

  56. Gus says:

    Natalia at # 2:

    it seems fairly obvious that Kevin Costner’s murderous legacy will probably continue in the most twisted of ways

    You mean, he’s going to make more movies?

  57. Andrew_S says:

    Squinting through pink Lambrusco colored glasses is very hard to do when one sports the wrong type of appendage, and lives not large at the emperors indulgence. More especially when hollywood becomes reality for the stupid, and increasingly the gullible. I say males should abandon the neo slave mothership and unfurl those sails for lands anew. It seems the real barbarians just have to wait a little while more at the gates, for when the need for old style chivalry arises. I forsake answering the call, for what do I care. My navel is examined, and the vassel that spewed me forth has nurtured too many clones. The barbarians can have at’em to their hearts content. Like all dreams, the keys were handed over to the enlightened ones, who appear to be so well instructed by their serpents.

  58. Natalia says:

    LOL

    Besides that, I think the movie also implies that Kevin Costner’s child is seriously evil. That his condition is genetic and that it’s being passed on to generate more evil. Pro-life movie my lily-white bum.

  59. Natalia says:

    Oh, I see MM has got that point covered for me. Silly Natalia is no reading so good – she foreign, you see?

  60. DDay says:

    As someone who has never seen any of the Godfather movies (expect oddly enough for this particular scene), here’s my take: She tells him that she is leaving him and he is no longer in control of her. He doesn’t believe it until she tells him about the abortion. He loses it then because this proves to him that he is no longer in control. It is all about loss of power, and power and control is what motivates domestic violence.

  61. flea says:

    I love how different people can interpret the same scene in a hundred different ways. I always thought Kay told Michael she had an abortion because she knew that was the one thing she could say to him that would force him to see that the marriage was really over and she’d had enough. Whether or not she actually terminated the pregnancy rather than miscarried was irrelevant, she just wanted to drop that bomb and run like hell.

  62. Lauren says:

    One of the major accurate psychological themes in The Sopranos was how the sociopathy of Tony Soprano made him available to do real violence to other while sentimentalizing (is that a word?) his idea of a true, good family. It’s one of the hallmarks of any good film gangster, but it’s almost always used to humanize the sociopath. The irony is that it more aptly illustrates the lack of humanity in the criminal in that the only way he can connect positively with others is through artifice.

    Like Jill Stanek!

  63. aimai says:

    And that luca brasi! what a he man *he* was! He loved his Irish whore so much he forced the midwife to throw her baby in the furnace. Michael’s comment “some story! some luca!”

    aimai

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  65. Halfmad says:

    WOW!!! WTF!!! I have finally read something SO completely crazy, I cannot even comprehend that these people are serious!!! My mouth is hanging open!

    They didn’t get that 1) Diane Keaton’s character was utterly appalled at the immorality of the Corleones and was going to get her children out of there and 2) Michael Corleone reacted in the way that he and his family reacted to everything, violence, threats, and utter control? To what was the obvious detriment of the children? and that the model of the “good wife” was the silent, cooking grandmother?

    Wait — am I really having to try to explain this to people?!?!?!?

    Oh my GOD.

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  67. Cecily says:

    I’ve been thinking about this, and it seems to me that the core of this is that Stanek can’t believe that others don’t share her political opinions, not only in direction, but in magnitude. If she made a movie that mentioned abortion, the abortion would be a big deal that acted as the litmus test for goodness in all the characters. She can’t imagine that for the film maker, the abortion served some other purpose and was for the plot, not for politics.

    Whereas I don’t know about you guys, but I accept that, for instance, there’s not going to be a reasonable, mature discussion of abortion in Knocked Up because A: it’s a fairly immature comedy and B: the plot would be completely and utterly destroyed by abortion, so abortion has to be thrown out the window immediately. So the only characters who suggest abortion are completely repellant, and I roll my eyes, but I see why they did it that way. Because I don’t think every filmmaker is trying to make a political point, and I don’t have to twist every film into being ideologically pure in order to watch it.

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