In this house, BCC isn’t an email acronym.
In this house, BCC stands for Birth Control Cinema.
And The Lost Daughter ALMOST qualified.
A fun game to play:
The next time you encounter a narrative-based piece of art about parents and kids, ask yourself: how many of the parents’ problems — and, thus, the story’s drama — would be immediately resolved if they had simply never had children?
I KNOW I KNOW, the reverse question breeds many more answers: how many parental characters would’ve never found their purpose in life if not for their children?
Let’s say we believe this distribution of “happy” parents and “miserable” parents is true to life…you’re telling me 99.9999% of parents in the entire world, throughout human history, have absolutely no regrets regarding their decision to sire offspring??
Sure, “realistic” movies rarely portray parenting as being without downsides; far from it — where else would all the drama come from? But the vast majority of such art ultimately positions parenting as a net positive, and their arcs can best be described as a journey to discovering how to derive more joy from their familial role.
And, you know, maybe that’s accurate. If Darwin was/is correct, humans are biologically conditioned to care for their own (the self-interested — and scientifically-truer? — version: they’re conditioned to ensure the survival and continued replication of their genes in perpetuity). As such, the DNA cards are stacked heavily in favor of coming down on the side of “yay, parenting!” In all my years of grilling people on their choice to reproduce, not once has anyone confessed regret.
Which, publicly, makes sense; society may shun those who own their own dismay on this front. But, privately, not one parent EVER has secretly scorned the self-imposed life sentence that is their children??
The Lost Daughter ALMOST gets there. For most of the movie, it seemed like I was watching a story about a woman with the guts to break free from this prison of her own womb’s devising. We always make mistakes when young, and must we put up with their ramifications for the rest of our waking days? Society may shame us for bailing, but is conforming to society’s dictates more important than finding happiness during our finite stay on this spinning orb?
Buuuut The Lost Daughter‘s ending undercuts this conclusion. The formerly-depressed mother appears to stumble into contentment by reaching out to her estranged kids. My interpretation: she could no longer ignore what patently exists, so figuring out what sort of distanced relationship to have with her daughters might be a more nuanced, less-binary recipe for success than complete abandonment.
Which is fine; I’m sure oodles of mothers have been in the same situation before. I’m not criticizing The Lost Daughter for opting against becoming a banner member of the Birth Control Cinema club.
But, like, can we get at least SOME examples, please?? Can’t art be about exceptions to rules, too? Isn’t that what might make a story an interesting deviation from the norm, from our norms?
And that’s why we need Birth Control Cinema, a pithy title for a genre of movies that can have the effect of convincing viewers to never birth children.
A pantheon entrant in the genre: the opening scene of last year’s Pieces of a Woman.
Fire up Netflix (ugh), press play, and prepare to want to get sterilized.