"The notion that you can broach varieties in family arrangements and tallk about every stage of family formation, without being worried about towing a particular political or social line, is growing, and that's showing up in movies that are not super serious but are sociologically revealing," said Ann Hulbert, author of "Raising America: Experts, Parents, and a Century of Advice About Children." "Certainly fertility, which was a topic that people didn't discuss very openly 20 years ago, is now a subject that's out there for people to compare experiences."
But while unconventional families and fertility are fair game, mainstream movies still shy away from in-depth discussion of abortion (not so in independent and foreign films -- Romania's "4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days" won the top prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival).
"Knocked Up" didn't even utter the word (it was referred to in euphemism -- "rhymes with 'shmashmortion"). "Juno" allowed Page's character into the Planned Parenthood clinic but had her running out minutes later, freaked out and resolved to keep her baby.
"I still think abortion, even in the medical world, is a quieter subject," said Momlogic.com pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson. "When I talk to young parents with newborns, they're very quick to tell me their fertility history, but they're not nearly as vocal about their abortion history ... maybe because it's not relevant, but maybe also because there are social taboos."
While Hollywood has opened up to exploring the nuances and nitty-gritty of new-motherhood since the days of "Junior," the 1994 flop that saw Arnold Schwarzenegger turn from terminator into baby incubator, Natterson said there's still too much space between the big screen and reality when it comes to the portrayal of sex and its outcomes.
"The one place that kids are left uneducated is the emotional intensity of sex and sexually charged relationships early in life. It's still glorified, it's still romanticized, and it's such a big piece that's missing in the conversation with kids about why you should wait to have sex," Natterson added. "I'd love to see that addressed, in some way, by the film industry."
Just a guess, but a Lindsay Lohan movie is probably not where that discussion will take place.