Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Has Hush-A-Bye Baby become obsolete?

From the cheesy music blasting in the discothèque to the unfortunate haircuts that defined a generation, the director securely anchored Hush-A-Bye Baby in the late 80s. As a result, the movie faces the risk of being obsolete.

In 1990, just a few years before Dublin became a global technology center, Irish society was undergoing major changes. Hush-A-Bye Baby taps into the energies of these changes – it was filmed during a year that straddled the extremes the society was wrestling with. Women were just beginning to receive education surrounding pregnancy and in two years a suicidal rape victim would fight for the right to go to England for an abortion (and win). In 1988, just two years before the film was made, a mother had died in a grotto giving birth.

In this time period the film was an important and relevant tool that both provided a mirror for Ireland and the world, but also as a way to teach sensitivity. Goretti’s reliance on word of mouth information (like using whiskey and castor oil to induce premature labor) and her lack of information (regarding the differences between a miscarriage and an abortion) reveal the problems that come with blooming sexuality and ignorance. At the same time, her “friends’” reaction to the girl from St. Bernadette’s exemplify the social violence that was acted upon anybody unfortunate enough to fall victim to the societal ignorance.

But, when one flashes forward to the present day the film is only marginally relevant to urban viewers and youths. In the modern urban areas of Ireland, like elsewhere in the world, institutions like libraries are being used more and more by high school and junior high students. While they might not be reading books, they are accessing the internet. And, while the library may have been an intimidating place for those in the lower-middle and working classes before the technology boom, the rapid spread of email usage across all of the social strata has increased casual patronage. This is where the modern Greta would have gotten her information. A quick “I Feel Lucky” search for “pregnancy” on google.com would have immediately brought her to http://www.pregnancy.org/ - a source that would have discredited much of what her friends were saying and provided her, if not with answers, at least options.

In shorter terms, the birth of the Internet has substantially changed the way youth culture gets information and this film is a static representation of bygone modes of interaction among urban youth.

The distinction between urban and rural youth is important. Despite what Thomas Friedman would have us believe, the effect of the Internet in rural culture is much more diluted. High speed access is more limited and so are places to log on.

Title: Hush-A-Bye Baby

Director: Margo Harkin

Maj. films by Dir.: 12 Days in July

Screenplay: Stephanie English; Margo Harkin

Producer: Tom Collins

Editor: Martin Duffy

Director of Photography: Breffini Byrne

Studio: Ardmore

Production Co.: Derry Film and Video Workshop British Screen RTE

Distributor: NA

Country of Origin: Ireland

Locations: Derry,Donegal

Background: Set against the spat of stillbirths, infanticides and mothers dying during births being held in secret, a girl finds herself pregnant with no where to turn.

No comments: