Of course, when a Salon writer takes issue with Portman gushing about motherhood itself, I am happy to come to the defense of Portman, who at least is engaged, perhaps an acknowledgment of the importance of fatherhood.
Huckabee is right, single motherhood is far from glamourous. And if Portman made a speech about how proud she is she got pregnant before marriage, that would have gotten many of us vocally engaged. But she didn’t.
Instead, since people are comparing the comment to the famous Dan Quayle Murphy Brown speech, I’m jumping at the chance to link to it again, even though the incidents are different from one another. In the case of the Quayle speech, of course, he was criticizing a much-watched television show and its storyline. The message of the prime-time scenario was clearer and hard to avoid. The vice president also delivered a speech; he wasn’t answering a question in a series of them.
I linked to the Quayle speech back in August, in a column on comments Jennifer Aniston made about motherhood and a study on sperm donation. (The kids are not quite all right.)
At the time of the Murphy Brown frenzy, Rick Brookhiser wrote: “Culture affects behavior. Dan Quayle isn’t the only person who believes this. Every feminist who applauded Thelma and Louise, every parent who wonders about the effects of cop-show violence on his kids, every aging rock critic who credits Elvis with jolting America out of the sexless somnolence of the 50’s thinks culture changes hearts and minds. The question is: In what direction?”
As for the win Sunday night, there may be more reason to be troubled by the seemingly disturbingly graphic movie that she was in than the actress’s personal life (I have not seen it, so I will leave that there — though Fred and Jeri sure haven’t given me too much encouragement to run out and see it!). Perhaps motherhood will affect her choice of roles in the future.
Actors are people, too. They will make choices, mistakes, find themselves in less-than-ideal situations. We would like to encourage them to be role models, because kids will frequently see them as such. But I am not sure we really do that. Culture tends to gawk. And, especially with the young ones, the industries that make money off them seem to encourage something other than goodness and responsibility. How many good-girl-gone-bad headlines are meant to be enticing? I often wonder who is protecting these young people. Frequently their families are not, as we have seen.
I wish Portman well in married life. That is not easy either, especially when you are getting started with immediate parenthood, under the constant glare of Hollywood lights, which are not known for fostering marriage and family life.