The Teenage Adult
22 March 2012
Movies can demonstrate ideas and force viewers to reconsider stereotypes. Examples such as The Green Mile, showing the kindness of inmates, and White Men Can’t Jump, showing the white man dunking a basketball in a ten foot net, are testimonies of changing audience minds. Teenagers are sometimes treated like toddlers with no focus in life and told, even forced, what to do, regardless of their wishes. In Juno the teenage protagonist carries her baby to term, gives the unplanned baby to a couple desiring parenthood, and focuses on school. Her decision shows the maturity teenagers can possess.
Juno MacGuff is a sixteen year old suburban high school student who performs coitus with her bandmate and peer Paulie Bleeker. Three positive pregnancy tests lead Juno to attempt abortion, but an anti-abortionist spooks Juno from the abortion clinic by informing the pregnant teen that fetuses have fingernails. Her supportive father accompanies Juno to the future adoptive parents’ (Vanessa and Mark Loring) house; she had found the couple in a newspaper advertisement. Juno hides her love for Bleeker while she deals with her pregnancy and builds a friendship with her baby’s future father. The realization of being a parent terrifies Mark and fulfills Vanessa’s childhood dream of being a mother. Juno’s baby endangers Mark’s aspirations of being a rock star and threatens the Loring’s marriage. Juno brings a pregnant teenager into an adult world and shows the brutal shunning of high school society.
The fate of a child requires mature decision-making. Juno understands she is not mature enough to raise a child; she plans to attend Gettysburg College with Bleeker and worries that having a baby will ruin possibilities for higher education. The young lady makes a decision to “procure a hasty abortion” without the consent of her parents. She reneges on her decision and now faces “the disappointment that comes of inexplicable adult actions” (Puig). Juno wants to give her baby to loving, responsible people, and “she is adamant about selecting the prospective parents” (Puig). Vanessa and Mark are perceived as yuppies with a perfect marriage. Juno builds a friendship with Mark and Vanessa. After careful analysis, Juno’s decision for the fate of her child is made.
Juno and her baby’s biological father, Bleeker, have a feud over juvenile situations at high school, and Juno’s audience becomes aware that she isn’t invincible to immaturity. The Students of Dancing Elk High School look at pregnant Juno walking down the corridor as if she had contagious human malware. Juno’s plans to attend college are a major factor in the mature decision to give her child up. When Bleeker confesses he is dating a popular student, Juno treats Bleeker like a traitor and complains to him about her peers ridiculing her in front of his unaided help. When going to high school Juno reverts back to immature actions, but her actions outside of school are mature.
Juno doesn’t exhibit the negative stereotypes of pregnant teenagers. A.O. Scott from The New York Times writes:
But Juno . . . respects the idiosyncrasies of its characters rather than exaggerating them or holding them up for ridicule. And like Juno herself, the film outgrows its own mannerisms and defenses, evolving from a coy, knowing farce into a heartfelt, serious comedy.
I see a headstrong teenager who may drop out of school in the opening scenes. At the end of Juno I see a young adult who has freewill and hurdles over obstacles with her mature decisions. My ears cling to every word.
Juno. Dir. Jason Reitman. Perf. Ellen Page, Michael Cera, Jenneifer Garner, Jason Bateman, J.K. Simmons, Valerie Tian. Fox Searchlight Pictures, 2008. DVD.
Puig, Claudia. “Unconventional ‘Juno” strikes right comedic balance.”Rev. of Juno,dir. Jason Reitman. USA Today,05Dec. 2007. Web. 23 Mar. 2012
Scott, Anthony Oliver(A.O.). “Seeking Mr. and Mrs. Right for a Baby on the Way.”Rev. of Juno,dir. Jason Reitman. The New York Times, 05 Dec. 2007. Web. 23 Mar. 2012