by Rich Bruso
You know the feeling: Sitting there, close to your partner. Others are in the darkened viewing room, too, but each couple seems to have placed as much room as possible between groups. All of you are adults, and all of you have one thing on your minds. A quiet murmur as the movie begins. And there, on the screen, the starlet appears; nude as the day she was born.
Of course, technically, it was the day she was born. My wife and I are in a childbirth class. As many of you know, we are expecting our first child very soon now. His due date is the 3rd of June, but we're expecting he'll arrive earlier than that. As the past month has been filled with frantic preparations, I didn't have time to review a movie of my usual genre. Now, before you celebrate a month without a horrible movie review, I'd like to state that, like normal movies, these videos also cover a wide spectrum from top-of-the-line, big budget films to "Hey, I got $500, is that enough to make a baby movie?" flicks.
Now I'm not going to cover the actual films of birth. True, some of these are low budget, but they all had much better sound, lighting, and scene centering than anything I've reviewed in this column, except for Escanaba In Da Moonlight. What I'm going to cover are the educational films. The idea with these is to beat parents over the head with an idea 64.8 billion times to ensure that we get the message. Unfortunately, I didn't take note of the movie titles, so the only way you can experience these is to take the classes.
First up is a short film from the March of Dimes. This one is entirely from the point of view of an unborn baby who, though poorly animated, has excellent language skills. Throughout, we are treated to a very high-pitched voice complaining "...mommy wants to go on a diet now! Doesn't she realize she's supposed to gain weight during pregnancy?" Also, "Luckily, the doctor's on my side. Maybe mommy will take better care of me now." And my favorite, "At least mommy isn't taking any street drugs, like heroin, and," as the baby looks down, "it looks like I'll have plenty of room to get out when it's time." Scary.
Next on the prenatal menu, we have a film about immunizations. An important point, but it would have been less expensive to just have doctors, nutritionists, and parents explain why immunizations are important. Instead, we are treated to scenes of two parents arguing about how stupid, inconvenient, and expensive immunizations are, while their child, again with exceptional language skills, shouts about how important they are to his health. Oh, and between these touching family scenes we see doctors, nutritionists, and parents explain why immunizations are important. Seems like they were trying to pad this out to ten minutes. At least there wasn't any bad stock footage of Native Americans.
The final movie I'd like to discuss is also the worst, in my opinion. The instructor even apologized before putting this one in the VCR, saying it gets a little "funky" at times. This one is about breastfeeding, and focuses on minorities in inner city neighborhoods. The film centers on a young couple. He is a musician and spends most of his time in the studio. I'm not sure what she does, besides yelling full volume at him whenever he's around. She's considering breastfeeding, and he has some serious problems with that. Finally, thoroughly beaten down, he goes to a "men's group", where they discuss concerns about childbirth and breastfeeding.
Most modern childbirth classes go with the more politically correct term "partner", instead of the outdated "husband" or "wife". This more accurately reflects modern times, where partners are not necessarily married, or even of opposite sexes. There are some holdout videos that assume a married, male-female parenting situation, but they are rare. Apparently, though, "partner" wasn't flexible enough for this film. Instead, they use the phrase "your baby's mama", as in, "You should treat your baby's mama with respect."
Back to our men's group. Various concerns are raised, ranging from "Well, I don't want her to, you know, feed in public, where anyone at all can see her", to "Anyway, we all know what feeding does to her figure." I always thought the breastfeeding debate centered on nutrition for the child, not whether the father would be embarrassed in public. How wrong I was.
Luckily, this movie had a happy ending. Our father does return to the studio, but the "cut" he ends up recording is all about supporting "your baby's mama", and how breastfeeding can be done in public without embarrassing anyone, a common theme in modern rap, as anyone can tell you. I only regret the Leprechaun wasn't called in for backup vocals.
As a soon to be parent, I'm looking forward to the birth of a little person with full language skills, so he can complain he isn't getting enough immunization shots. Of course, I won't be able to hear him, as I'll be busy yelling at my baby's mama.
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