Procreation and Parenthood on Film

Sending out an SOS ...

Next year I'm teaching a course about the ethics of procreation and parenthood and want to generate vividness by pairing topics with movies. So far I've thought of--

Never Let Me Go (ethics of creating clones and using them as organ banks)
The Island (same as Never Let Me Go, but not as subtle)
Children of Men (large populations, "the repugnant conclusion," the right to have children)
The Road (would it be bad if humans became extinct, must the last couple reproduce?)
28 Days Later (must the last couple reproduce? if your zombie kid attacks you, may you defend yourself?)
Gattaca (genetic screening, disabilities)
Peggy Sue Got Married (would it have been bad if I hadn't been born?)
The Station Agent (disabilities)

I can't think of good movies about...

Enhancement--smarter, prettier, longer-living people (there must be plenty out there)
Surrogate motherhood (please, no made-for-TV movies)
Rights of children (overbearing parents--a movie that connects with the "tiger mother" phenomenon)
Duties of children to parents
Lying to children



Update (5/17)--Your suggestions (keep 'em coming) plus my further thoughts:

Idiocracy (enhancement?) 
Juno (virtues of parenthood, abortion?) 
Throw Momma From the Train (duties to parents) 
Miracle on 34th Street (lying to kids)
Ordinary People (parenthood, duties of parents?)
Bladerunner (status of genetically altered people)
Baby Boom (parenthood and career, role of women)
Mildred Pierce (maybe...duties of children to parents)
Mask (having children with disabilities)


Aeolus said...

Juno. I always think of this movie when I teach Rosalind Hursthouse's "Virtue Theory and Abortion".

Simon Rippon said...

(In order of topical request)
Throw Momma from the Train
Miracle on 34th Street

Jean Kazez said...

Terrific--thanks for all of those. I haven't seen most of them (except "Miracle")--how nice to have some comedies to add to the list.

Faust said...

Interesting. Will think on this.

Aeolus said...

To elaborate: Hursthouse argues that
(1) Having children is a good thing; it contributes to living a flourishing life.
(2) This doesn't mean that everyone must have children in order to flourish, or that abortion is always wrong.
(3) But it remains true that some people who avoid having children do so because they have a faulty/immature understanding of what is entailed in living a flourishing life -- i.e., they need to grow up.

In Juno, one of the characters is a prospective adoptive father to whom (3) applies.

s. wallerstein said...

Perhaps the best film that I recall about the relation of parents to children and vice versa is Ordinary People (1980), directed by Robert Redford.

Jean Kazez said...

Aeolus--I think I might have to borrow the whole combo! Just the read the article (lots of virtues--pardon the pun) and I now have the movie in my Netflix queue.

Anonymous said...

"A Day in the Death of Joe Egg", the 1972 film version with Alan Bates.

(Disabilities, duties of parents and a whole bunch more.)

crystal said...

Maybe Parenthood and The Habmaid's Tale?

s. wallerstein said...

I had forgotten Secrets and Lies
(1996), directed by Mike Leigh.

Wayne said...

The kids are Alright: Gay parents, fidelity, sperm donation

Knocked up: I'm not sure exactly what to say about this, but there is plenty there.

If you're willing to let in some TV shows.... I'd throw in The Walking Dead (Or you can use the comic book series.) If you're willing to use Comic books, Y the last man is EXCELLENT (A disease wipes out all men on earth, except one.)

Kick-Ass- One of the main characters, Hit Girl, is like 12-13ish and her father, a cop, is training her to be a super hero in order to exact revenge on the mobsters who ruined his life. Parental expectations on a child is something to think about, plus, the kinds of responsibilities that a parent has in raising their child (in their first scene, he shoots his daughter).

Aliens: mother protecting her young movie (although technically Ripley isn't Newt's mother).

Terminator 1 & 2: The ultimate story of a mother protecting her child.

Sound and Fury: A documentary about a family struggling with whether or not to implant their deaf child with a cochlear implant.

I'm sure I can think of more...

Wayne said...

Jersey Girl (Single parenthood)

Grace is Gone (Another single parent movie)

The Pursuit of Happyness (Another single parent movie)

My Life- Michael Keaton find out that he's dying so he starts recording messages to his future child.

Gran Torino - Why does family mean biology? Seems like Eastwood's other family is far more fitting of the title family

Coraline- Coraline leaves her real world, being tempted by a "other mother"

Life is Beautiful (Talk about lying to your child...)

Monsters--I'm not sure if there is enough in this movie to justify putting it into your class... and the part that is relevant, would kind of spoil the movie. Its a beautifully shot movie, and not very violent or bloody at all.

Jean Kazez said...

Everyone,Terrific, thanks so much.

Wayne, I'm going to track down that comic book. I think I would actually deserve extra credit for using comic books in a philosophy class...in my own mind, anyway!

Anonymous, Looking for A Day in the Death...(it's not at Netflix, alas). Alan Bates, hurray!

Wayne said...

oh one more.... My Sister's Keeper (I haven't actually seen this yet but.... I had very enthusiastic students recommend this to me)

Its about two daughters... One daughter was conceived to help the other daughter live because she had leukemia or something. But the bone marrow transplants don't work or something, so they need to continually have her donate bone marrow through her life.

Y the last man is a pretty long series (10 trade papers) http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_14?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=y+the+last+man&sprefix=y+the+last+man#/ref=sr_kk_2?rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3Ay+the+last+man+complete+series&keywords=y+the+last+man+complete+series&ie=UTF8&qid=1305913009

But you might want to consider using maybe the first Tradepaper (so you and your students understand the set up) and maybe a couple of the later ones, to see some of the other ideas fleshed out a bit. (e.g. the one where the astronauts come back to earth is pretty good for your use, and the volume that focuses on the women hell bent on killing Yorick is pretty good too).

Jean Kazez said...

Wayne, I might just go buy the first book in the series. It has a great premise. Have you seen 28 Days Later? Good movie with some similar themes--and I think quite discussion-worthy.

Last night we watched Juno and I read Hursthouse beforehand...I think I'll blog about the combo soon.

Thanks for all your suggestions.