In a political act loaded with cultural symbolism, Sen. Hillary Clinton endorsed an effort to earmark a million taxpayer dollars for a museum in Bethel, N.Y., celebrating the circus of 1969, the Woodstock music festival. Other senators smelled the pork and successfully voted to remove it.
The tie-dyed, drug-soaked postwar babies that populated that muddy plain are now approaching Social Security age, and the aging hippies that made their way into the establishment want to imbue the notorious excesses of their youth with respectability. The New York Times said the Bethel complex would be "what Cooperstown is to baseball" -- a hippie Hall of Fame.
I liked that music. I still do. Then, as now, I simply ignored the cultural and political messages. Many others didn't.
The bohemian worldview of Woodstock Nation is in some ways dominant, and in some ways passe in our popular culture. Hallucinogenic drugs are no longer the rage, but the "free love" spirit of "if it feels good, do it" still runs strong, especially in our entertainment world. And yet, burbling beneath a noisy culture of sexual excess and self-love, there's a quiet undercurrent in our movies carrying subtle, and even obvious, pro-life themes.
Last Christmas, there was "Children of Men," a dark science-fiction look into England, 20 years from now, where human fertility has vanished. One pregnant woman becomes a damsel in grave danger, and then with the birth of her child, a beacon of hope.
Six months later, the small movie "Waitress" followed a lonely waitress with a good-for-nothing husband who decides (against Tinseltown's grain) to keep her baby. Summer brought the big, crude sex comedy "Knocked Up," a tale of a beautiful blonde who improbably mates with an overweight schlub, a man the world would say is "not in her league." But underneath the crudity, another pro-life story emerges: not only does she keep the baby, she tries to build a marriage and family.
Those two movies were close enough together to represent a tiny trend -- and film critics denounced it as an affront to their "pro-choice" beliefs. The women chose life, and that was wrong. To them, it smelled of fear and corner-cutting. They noted the word "abortion" wasn't used in the scripts. (But couldn't pro-lifers make the same complaint?)
It showed "the studios' terror at giving offense," whined the Boston Globe. "Hollywood is No-Choice," was the disgusted headline in The New York Times. "Both movies go out of their way to sidestep real life," since "two-thirds of unwanted pregnancies end in abortion." But what about the one-third of "unwanted" pregnancies in real life that result in real life? They cannot be celebrated?