Brow Beat

I’m Boycotting Natalie Portman’s Diaperless Astronaut Diaper Movie

Natalie Portman in an astronaut's uniform, in front of the NASA logo.
Natalie Portman in Lucy in the Sky, but not in a diaper.
Fox Searchlight Pictures

This just in: a decision concerning shit that’s total BS.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Wednesday that the forthcoming movie about Lisa Nowak, the astronaut whose claim to fame is that she was charged with attempted murder after she drove across five states to confront a romantic rival while supposedly wearing a diaper to minimize stops (presumably resulting in a very soiled diaper), will include no diapers whatsoever. This is, quite plainly, an outrage.

Natalie Portman stars in Lucy in the Sky, the movie inspired by Nowak’s story, which premieres at this week’s Toronto International Film Festival. But director Noah Hawley cautioned that “inspired by” is not the same thing as “based on,” and this movie’s connection to Nowak’s life is loose. So loose that Hawley considered the diapers expendable. “That detail just didn’t fit into the story,” Hawley told the L.A. Times.

Like hell it didn’t! That detail is the story. Never mind that it’s not, strictly speaking, “true”; though the adult diaper detail was included in a police report (and roundly mocked in the media), Nowak denied that she wore one, and there was evidence to suggest that she did make stops during the drive. Never mind either Hawley’s argument that Nowak’s “human experience has been reduced to a joke” and his stated goal to “allow her to retain her dignity.” Dignity shmignity: The diapers are what everyone remembers about the story, the dare-I-say cinematic detail begging to be depicted on screen. The love triangle and the capture by authorities and also the outer space will all be riveting too. But God, just give us at least a little diaper.

Any film that’s inspired by Nowak’s story, no matter how loosely, simply must address the diapers, even if only as a feint. (Picture it: Natalie Portman executing a perfect, well-timed diaper joke. It’s beautiful. It’s cinema. It’s Oscar-worthy.) Without any diapers, I am frankly not sure why this movie exists. It’s like they made a Fast and the Furious movie without the cars.

A boycott of Lucy in the Sky seems like the only appropriate response, as does a call for another version of Nowak’s story that properly reckons with the diaper, in the grand tradition of competing stories like Capote and Infamous or A Bug’s Life and Antz. This shouldn’t be that hard, because any diaper-less adaptation of this story is, by definition, a big fat No. 2.