What's the Big Deal About "American Sniper's" #FakeBabyGate?
No, I'm not talking about complaints that the film glorifies "a killer." I'm referring to the backlash over a plastic newborn doll that director Clint Eastwood used in some scenes. Critics have called it a "creepy robot baby" and slammed it as "jarringly fake." It probably didn't help that actual baby noises were looped in during editing, so they're not only disembodied but also not matching up with the fake infant's body language. Considering Eastwood's famously obsessive attention to detail and historical accuracy, this could seem like a bit of a miss.
Unless, of course, you're a parent. Because anyone who has spent even an hour with a newborn knows that they're a lot like Lindsay Lohan circa 2010: unable to sit still for very long, prone to epic meltdowns, and not always able to turn it on when the director yells "action." I mean, just getting out the door with a baby can be a real struggle. If he's not gifting you with a surprise poop diaper just as your hand touches the door knob, then he's spitting up on your favorite sweater, or spontaneously deciding he's hungry and must eat immediately. It's why every mom I know gives herself an extra hour to get anywhere, even if it's just to a Starbucks down the street.
Now imagine that erratic behavior on an expensive, tightly-choreographed movie set, where hundreds of people are counting on a baby to keep it together while some strangers hold her and have the same heated, scripted discussion until they get it just right. Infants do it, of course, and apparently Eastwood's intention was to have a real baby in those scenes. But in true newborn fashion, one kiddo showed up to set with a fever while the second was MIA, according to a since-deleted tweet by American Sniper's screenwriter Jason Hall. He added, "(Clint voice) Gimme the doll, kid." Spoken like a true director -- and dad of seven.
Bonnie Gibbs Vengrow is a New York City-based writer and editor who traded in her Blackberry and Metro card for playdates and PB&J sandwiches—and the once-in-a-lifetime chance to watch her feisty, funny son grow up. Follow her on Twitter, Pinterest, and Google+
Screen shot of Bradley Cooper and fake baby courtesy of Warner Bros. via CNN.com