“Liberal Hollywood” is a phony phrase when it comes to young girls and pregnancy.
I just returned from the seeing the movie Juno (as in the Roman Goddess and wife of Zeus, associated with bringing forth life) and the adorable name of the sixteen year old who discovers what we have known since the dawn of time: lying down or sitting in a chair while engaging in sex can lead to pregnancy. That was the most important and accurate message of the entire movie. Unfortunately, the movie quickly turns into the old theme of grownups yearning for their youth and kids showing grownups a thing or two about life-especially Juno.
I was impressed with the young actress who plays Juno but I found the subject of an unplanned pregnancy treated a bit too flippant. Teen pregnancy is no laughing matter and Juno for the most part is a very funny movie. Granted this is fiction and it is far more entertaining to watch a precocious actress be funny and quirky as she reveals her confusion and regret for her sexual tryst BUT, and this is a big BUT, it is disappointing how the subject of an unplanned pregnancy is always a comedy or some warm, feel good, movie about a girl who of course, elects to have her baby.
Whether the movie is “Knocked Up”, “Home Fries” or “Waitress”, Hollywood doesn’t want to address teen pregnancy or any unwanted pregnancy in a different storyline other than humor and a happy, happy ending which means of course, the woman has her baby and life is going to work out just dandy.
How about a real movie where the young woman decides she can’t handle a baby, does not believe she can give a baby up for adoption, or just does not want to take the risk on her health and opts for an abortion? I’m sure it could be done in a respectful and honest manner to illustrate that when it comes to unplanned pregnancies, women should be respected no matter what choice they make. I’m dreaming I know, so bear with me as we enter the world of writer Diablo Cody.
The scene where Juno goes into a women’s clinic to have an abortion is just bogus if not pretentious. I challenge anyone to find a woman’s clinic where the receptionist is a seventeen-year-old “Goth” girl with piercings in her lip, and nose and acts as if she is bored to tears handing out forms for Juno’s scheduled abortion procedure. The appointment becomes even weirder when the same receptionist offers Juno a flavored condom. Honest. Juno quips that it is a little late now for this helpful gift. It’s not only a little too late, it is the screenwriter trying to be cute but it just comes off as silly.
Obviously the screenwriter is making a statement that abortion is not only a mistake but these clinics are abortion mills staffed by uncaring, goofy, irresponsible people so run as fast as you can for the exist and save your baby!
There is one teenage protester outside the clinic who softly and gently urges Juno to save her baby. This alone is pure fiction since protesters are rarely meek but are extremely angry and pushy as young girls try to get passed their obnoxious screaming but we don’t want to have the audience angry with the heroic protester. Juno is determined to go in and proceed but the protester makes a remark that Juno cannot stop thinking about: “Did she know that her baby had fingernails already?” This shocking revelation causes Juno to sit in the office obsessing on the fact to the point that she leaves and decides an abortion is not right for her. Now, there is nothing wrong with this and in fact it is good that Juno has decided to do what she believes is best for her in this situation. She realizes she has to be comfortable with her choice and decides that fingernails represent a future she believes should have a chance regardless of her lapse in judgment. In the end, a baby finds a happy home, Juno and her boyfriend pick up where they left off, her parents still adore her and the track team keeps working out with the change of the seasons
Now, the important lesson here is choice. No one forced Juno to get an abortion. She makes her own choice to have the baby and give it up for adoption. It is as if Juno wants to do something good for others out of her mistake. Maybe it makes her feel better too, and who can blame any woman for wanting to have absolution in a world that makes an unplanned pregnancy a crime? Again the writer ignores some important realities facing most girls in the same situation: not every teenage girl has supportive parents like Juno, not every teenager has the mental and physical well being to carry a baby to term, and not every teenager has sophisticated intellect of Juno to cope with motherhood. These are important variables that make choice absolutely essential for every young woman facing an unplanned pregnancy.
Juno bravely gives up her baby to the point that you wonder if she really knows what she has given up which of course, is another theme skipped over; babies having babies is never a good idea. Bottom line, all women deserve to make their own reproductive decisions. Unfortunately the writer chose to make it appear that the choice Juno made was “right” and therefore right for all girls in the same situation.
That’s called a political statement hidden in a charming comedy. Just once I’d like to see a sweet, funny film explore a teenager who chooses an abortion and she lives happily ever after because it happens and it’s not some fictional story like Juno.
Vickie Sandell Stangl