Content warning – abortion. Note for clarity – I wrote this review back in 2011.
Well, its out. I watched it on Youtube. You can watch it on the promotional website. It only takes half an hour – but its quite a hard half an hour.
180 is meant to be a film that persuades you to be against abortion, to be pro-choice in every sense. In this basic premise, it perhaps misses the point that, hopefully, no-one is actually pro-abortion, even though some people are pro-Choice. I, personally, am pro-life. For lots of reasons. And one of them is that I am male – and am probably less likely than the fairer sex to have to deal personally with this issue – but I might, and I have certainly had to deal with it socially, and probably one day pastorally. It is incredibly unhelpful to condemn anyone out of hand – sometimes people do do wrong things, but its important to understand why, even if that reason is in itself wrong. The Abortion ‘debate’ (or discussion, or issue, or whatever you want to call it) is an incredibly emotive one, touching on all sorts of sub-debates and different areas of human endeavour.
This film, then, is an interesting one. Whilst I think watching it was worthwhile, I know that it will irritate if not outright offend some of my differently-minded brothers and sisters in Christ – and probably confirm the British liberal view that Americans are backward right wing numpties. But I think there are some redeeming features in this film. It opens with the rather emotive question of Hitler – and in my mind pushed the comparison a little too far. That said, at the same time, the film was quite good at giving alternative views at least a soundbite – a rarity for this kind of production. Whilst the darkest section was perhaps a modern American Neo-Nazi showing an offensive amount of idiocy, this film has a somber tone throughout.
The issue – as it so often is – is about whether or not life begins at conception, whether a foetus is a child/baby, and what other things have to be taken into account. This film did make it clear that this is a key part of the discussion.
On balance, though, particularly with the (standard evangelical but slightly off-topic) diversion towards issues of salvation at the end (warning, this will offend people who like Rob Bell wonder if conversion is a one off experience/conscious decision), this is an irritating film. I would actually use the opening segments as a useful reminder of the history of the Holocaust, in memoriam that we do not repeat the horrors of history. The slightly shaky link into abortion discussion is a little weak, but the actual discussion – as long as one realises that it is virtually impossible to have a neutral version, and that this IS an American pro-life video – is quite good. If nothing else, it is obnoxiously thought provoking.
Some other random good points can be scored by this film. Firstly, it was a Christian media production that was not completely cringeworthy – very little ’emotional’ music, good production values, firm but kind interviewer, RELATIVELY non-Judgemental approach. Also, it managed to show and engage with abortion issues WITHOUT caricaturing the procedure, or scaremongering – the only vaguely medical images shown were a bloody cloth being wrapped up – no coat hangers, etc in evidence at all.
I would recommend this film – but with caveats. Don’t watch it in isolation, or unblinkered, unthinking acceptance. Criticise it. Weigh it. Beware of the somewhat shocking content.