Sunday, May 15, 2016

Red Quickie: Baby, Baby, Baby!

With its declining birth rate, Japan isn't churning out babies like it used to. The Japanese seem to be either too busy to start families, or view the whole exercise as too expensive to get into. 2009's Baby, Baby Baby! takes a very mainstream Japanese look into the whole business of getting pregnant. Feisty protagonist Yoko (Arisa Suzuki) is a career woman who realizes she is pregnant, the result of a somewhat crazy evening. She decides to keep the baby and we follow her into her journey of self discovery.

The movie unfortunately does not subvert any societal expectations; Yoko, like many Japanese women, quits her job to focus on the baby full time, while the baby's father, Tetsuya, faces the prospect of abandoning his relatively carefree life to be able to become the breadwinner. There is no rebellion against social norms, no attempt by Yoko to hold onto her career, instead, all of the characters slowly fit into their pre-assigned societal slots by the end of the film.

The film also touches on issues on reproductive health, such as infertility, contraception, managing a large family, and other minor issues. However, the film doesn't really go deeper into these issues, nor does it address the larger picture behind Japan's declining fertility rate. Instead we get a somewhat ridiculous scene where everyone gives birth at the same time. I guess symbolically there's something in that. Baby, Baby Baby! is light fare, and unfortunately that's all it ends up being.