Monday, January 28, 2008

A different take on Juno

Nicole and I went to see Juno yesterday. There's been a lot of hype about the movie -- from sixth grade classrooms to pro-life websites to the Oscar predictions. Needless to say, I had heard a lot about the movie, and most of the feedback was very positive. I had a different take on the film, though.

The movie treated very serious subjects (sex, marriage, babies, adoption, etc.) as no big deal. Comedic elements were added to every scenario, even when they were highly inappropriate to the subject matter. For instance, when Juno calls the abortion clinic, the gravity of the situation is diffused by her cracking jokes about the discomfort caused by her "hamburger phone." Since when is choosing an abortion a light matter?

Life, born and unborn, is not considered sacred in this film. The characters have a blase attitude about everything, and the few who consider matters of life to be serious (ie. the potential adoptive mother Vanessa) are mocked. When Vanessa gets emotional over the idea of having a baby and wants everything to be perfect in preparation for the child, the intended reaction is to roll one's eyes and say, "Get a grip." Of course, this isn't the attitude we should have toward life. But if the adult characters in the movie don't hold their lives as sacred, then why would the unborn child's life be special?
  • The movie only provides Band-Aids -- simple solutions to cover the surface problem, not the root cause. Did anyone notice how much Juno seems to be starved for love? She seems to be looking for love in all the wrong places, and nothing she does is really seeking to get to the root of this longing. It brings to mind a beautiful quote from Pope John Paul II -- "Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate in it intimately."
  • The selfless and loving nature of adoption is downplayed in the movie, as Juno continues to say it's no big deal. Her callousness regarding her unborn child may reflect the pain of placing a child for adoption, but it comes across as a decision that merely affects her 40 weeks of pregnancy, not the rest of her life. Consequently, it's hard to catch a glimpse of the monumental sacrifice and heroic love modeled by a birth parent.
  • Juno's boyfriend, Bleeker, is portrayed as a rather wimpy young man. He is given no say in the adoption decision (when, in reality, a father has to sign away his right to parent). His lack of a role in the situation only perpetuates the stereotype that men are not necessary in a pregnancy -- except for the very first moment.
  • Sex is portrayed as no big deal -- something to do when bored, something everyone does and something that has no intrinsic meaning. In fact, the only way it is shown to have an effect is through Juno's pregnancy. We are led to believe that if she did not get pregnant, life wouldn't be much different.
  • So, in summary, I did not find Juno to be the hysterical, positive treatment of life and adoption that others have lauded it to be. I was very disappointed by the way the film portrayed precious subjects and poked fun at those who believe life to be a beautiful gift. The casualness of sex and of looking at the unborn merely reflected common views in our society, but I think we deserve better.

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