December 26, 2018
I’m sure by now some of you are familiar with the new Sandra Bullock movie that just came out, Bird Box. I like many others, saw the trailer and was instantly hooked. I could not wait to sit down and throw myself into an anxiety attack. I do not handle thrillers or suspense well, but what I can say…I am a glutton for punishment. I just can’t help but indulge and be anxious later.
My older sisters made reference to it within hours of each other that they had finished the movie and LOVED IT! I immediately sent a text out to them, ‘where did you guys watch it?!’. Netflix was the reply. Last weekend my hubby agreed to enable me and watch it. We sat down and curled up with some blankets as I kept all lights on, because I truly am a big baby with suspense.
We were able to get through about an hour of it before I had to take a break. I am pregnant and didn’t want to overwhelm my child with my emotions and a racing heart. Evening came and we sat back down to finish it. This is where my interest took a turn in the opposite direction. Maddy and the group had just came back from their run to the grocery store. Douglas, who stocked up on alcohol, was in the kitchen preparing a drink. Maddy is quite pregnant at this point. Douglas decides to offer her a drink of alcohol and pours her a glass of dark liquor. He insists that she enjoy it, leading into something along the lines of they’re all going to die, so she might as well enjoy it. The second this scene started to play out, my heart stopped. I became well aware my breathing was hallowed from a different kind of nerve. I looked at my husband for a split second out of the corner of my eye. He met my glance with, ‘no, no, no,’ as he murmured the words to our flat screen. Maddy said something along the lines of, “I hope you’re right,” and proceeded to take a swig from the glass.
I felt like I had taken a blow to my stomach. The next 20 minutes of the movie, I could not tell you about. I was too embodied in my own mind and my own thoughts. My husband offered to turn it off. His first reaction after the scene was to express his disdain for how the moment had played out. I on the other hand, felt stuck. My life mission is advocacy. In the past few years of blogging and advocating, I have FELT the shift of the changes we are making in society. I have SEEN the impact our voices have made. I have WITNESSED state governors and celebrities take part in our journeys, I have WATCHED the news coverage of statistics and reports come out of new research…yet suddenly I am wondering how we took a year back from ourselves. Sandra Bullock is one of my favorite actresses. I pride myself in my support of strong women, multi ethnic adoptions, and powerful and community driven women. To see one of my favorite actresses agree to speak those words in a film sent a fury of fluster to my soul.
I want to believe that she knows the impact of this scene. I want to believe her intent was to open doors for a conversation on substance use and pregnancy, but I also am no longer naive. The perception that was taken from those 3 minutes was that if we are indeed facing a crisis or drama, we as women who are carrying a child, can pick up a drink and it will be okay. How wrong this perception is! How DAMAGING THIS mindset is. Would it not have been more powerful for her to take those spare minutes and make a statement against it? Would it have taken anything away from the movie plot or reviews had she just pushed away the glass and said those same words, “I hope you’re right,” or “no”. I mean TRULY would the outcome of people’s reactions overall had been negative? No! I can promise you it would not have deterred a soul.
I understand there are film directors, and she is an actress with perhaps little control over the end results. But I believe that if we continue to voice our frustrations with the normalization of drinking and pregnancy, we can reap real results! Had she taken a stand and demanded they change a few small words, advocates and affected families world wide would have felt a small victory. Our hard work, our struggles, our voices, our pains, and our beings would have been vindicated. We pound the streets and sing our truths until our voices are but whispers, and then we dance our stories until our limbs say we must find other paths. We are constantly fighting for education, awareness, and reform in today’s society. We must NOT ever become content with what awareness we have created. We CLEARLY have more work to do. We have more people to reach. We have MORE alliances to build and MORE paths to tear down to get to our end goal; a world that is aware and a world that recognizes there is NO safe amount of alcohol use during pregnancy.
Today I am disappointed in Hollywood. Today I know our jobs are BUT done. Let us push even harder to get our stories across.