The New York Times yesterday ran a review of the documentary Lake of Fire — a film it called "an unblinking look at the violent fight over abortion in the United States" — by British director Tony Kaye.
The New York Times yesterday ran a review of the documentary Lake of Fire — a film it called "an unblinking look at the violent fight over abortion in the United States" — by British director Tony Kaye. As the movie is currently in limited release, there’s little opportunity for the public to decide whether Manohla Dargis’s review is an accurate representation of the film. What Dargis does offer, however, is a revealing demonstration of the pro-choice culture’s discomfort with the realities of abortion.
Take, for example, her reaction to the imagery in the film. She notes that it is "extremely graphic" — no surprise, given the subject — and says that "not everyone will agree about the abortion visuals, including, perhaps, those who worry that such explicit imagery can speak louder than any pro-abortion-rights argument."
"Not everyone will agree"? What precisely is there to agree about? That the images represent what abortion actually looks like is beyond debate — as she says, it’s there on film. Her real concern is that the stark impact of the images trumps any argument in favor of abortion, and that, of course, infuriates her. After being presented with the gruesome aftermath of an abortion of a 20-week-old fetus, she writes, "My initial and admittedly angry first thought about these images was that the director . . . was just resorting to shock tactics."
No doubt the images are shocking. But in describing them as "shock tactics," she’s accusing the filmmaker of being underhanded in the act of simply presenting the footage to the viewer. Nor does she pause for a moment to consider why it is that the images shock her.
Dargis eventually makes a small concession to the realities onscreen: "Abortion does end the life of something," she admits. But what might that be? She waves her hands a bit at all the possible answers — maybe it’s "an embryo, a baby, God’s creation, a blob of cells."
That’s a shame. She might have looked for clues among the gruesome results of one of those earlier abortions: "a perfect-looking tiny hand and a foot," and a "severed fetal head" with "one eerily bulging eye." For Dargis to conclude that abortion "ends the life of something" shows a disconnect with reality that is only slightly less stunning than the fact that millions of Americans share it.
Margaret Cabaniss is the managing editor of InsideCatholic.com and Crisis Magazine.