ROSEMARY’S BABY is part of Sundance Channel’s SCARY POLITICS series — it airs on Election Day, November 6th, at 9PM, at which point we’ll know if progressive values prevailed or if Satan won.
You hear a lot these days about Republicans rolling back women’s rights all the way to the ’50s and ’60s: vowing to defund Planned Parenthood; to allow employers to decide whether or not their female employees can have their contraception covered; to put the rights of an embryo above those of a woman via the Personhood Amendment; to outlaw all abortions, even in cases of rape, incest, and threats to not only the health but the life of the mother. They won’t even commit to laws ensuring equal pay for women doing the same work as men!
Take the viral video recently making the rounds, featuring the classic women’s lib anthem from 1964, “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore. After a variety of women (some famous, some not) lip sync all the lyrics (“Don’t tell me what to do…I love to be free to live my life the way that I want”), Gore says to the camera, “It’s hard for me to believe, but we’re still fighting for the same things we were [in the 60s]. Yes ladies, we’ve got to come together, get out there and vote, and protect our bodies. They’re ours. Please vote.”
Another piece of ’60s pop culture that’s scarily relevant to today’s political landscape is a film now airing on the Sundance Channel: the 1968 classic horror film ROSEMARY’S BABY, based on the bestselling 1967 novel of the same name, which tells the tale of a young woman who’s tricked into conceiving the Devil’s spawn in late 1965. (The baby’s due in June of the next year, get it? Born 6/66!) “You Don’t Own Me” could have been its theme song.
The film is directed by Roman Polanski, who isn’t exactly the poster boy for the feminist freedom fight against injustice (he’s still wanted in the U.S. for unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl when he was 43, back in 1978). And yet ROSEMARY’S BABY is a perfect expression of the growing feminist movement of the ’60s: it captures the tension between the old-school traditions of a patriarchy built on female subjugation and the new-found power and will of the modern woman who is curious, smart, and fiercely independent.
At the start of the film, Rosemary Woodhouse is actually pretty old-school herself: a naive, Catholic, country girl who’s now a homemaker in the big city, married to a D-list actor whom she dotes on. He walks in the door, and she’s got a sandwich ready for him. But when he and his newfound besties, a geriatric couple who live next door, start controlling her every move, including every aspect of her pregnancy, she starts getting suspicious — and starts fighting back.
The craziest thing about this movie — besides the Satanic orgy with all the naked AARP members — is how many scenes call to mind topical political issues of today: