Smear Campaign: A Short Film with a Huge Agenda

Smear Campaign: A Short Film with a Huge Agenda:
So in just one list of the "Nightly Need to Know" at the website for the women's advocacy group A Is For..., we learn that fewer and fewer doctors are getting trained to perform abortions, that getting an abortion in Texas is such a twisted game that a group is actually creating a twisted game to highlight what women must do in that state, and that the challenge to North Dakota's draconian anti-choice law has been narrowed by the judge in the case.

One of the founders of A Is For... is Lizz Winstead, the comedian, writer, and co-creator of The Daily Show, and she devoted a stand-up tour to supporting Planned Parenthood, the women's health clinics that have become the new ACORN for conservatives looking to attack and defund something else that helps poor people. Filmmaker Matthew Gorman followed Winstead and made the film Smear Campaign: @LizzWinstead's #Tour4PP. It's available to watch online for $5, which will benefit A Is For...so they can keep up the advocacy work.

This just ain't a plug. It's a review and an endorsement of the flick. The Rude Pundit rented it and watched it because he's friendly with Winstead and supports the cause, but it's actually a damn good piece of work. It's funny, enraging, and genuinely moving by the end.

We follow Winstead as she visits different towns, performing for audiences in venues large and small. But what's important in the film is how Winstead, along Sandra Bernhard and Lisa Lampanelli, as well as Salon's Joan Walsh, communicates a message from an older generation of feminists to young women who have come of age in an environment just as toxic to women, if not more so in the case of reproductive rights. There's a great passage in the middle of the 26-minute movie that brings this point home: three young women describe how important Planned Parenthood has been to their lives because of life-saving tests for illnesses and other services, that 97% of what Planned Parenthood does other than abortions.

With interviews with anti-choice protesters outside a Pontiac, MI theater, scenes of the poverty there, and a visit to the Creation Museum, there's enough to piss you off at the ignorance of those who oppose Planned Parenthood or reproductive freedom of any sort. And when Smear Campaign gets to Winstead reading from her book about what led to her first abortion, you understand that there is an embodied rage for the women here that makes them want to act for the good of all women.

It ain't a Planned Parenthood commercial, it ain't a stand-up comic's vanity film, no. And it's no shrill screed. Smear Campaign is a call for vigilance and activism on an issue that is very much about life and death. With a couple of laughs along the way.

(Your $5 gives you six months of access to the movie. Not only do you donate to a great cause, but you can show it to every conservative relative at Thanksgiving.)