The film ‘Juno’ is an amalgamation of feminist, political and cultural ideology. These have been depicted through the actions and decisions of a young and inexperienced pregnant teenager called Juno.
The movie is focused on abortion, which is a sensitive issue in US politics. Many critics have categorized the movie as ‘pro-life’ because its main character (Juno) was a pregnant teenager that chose to keep her child. However, it may also be considered as a pro- choice movie because Juno had the option of getting an abortion but chose not to. Consequently, it reflects prevailing sentiments on unplanned pregnancy.
The movie also serves as a commentary on gender roles in the US (Ramos et al. 15). The producer of the film probably had a feminist agenda because she did not represent a stereotypical image of a teenage girl. Juno is a cool and collected woman who acts intelligently when confronted with a huge challenge.
She is not a stereotypical, fun-loving teenage girl that most movies are focused on. Many Juno fans have praised the script writer for being unconventional by creating a symbolic teenage character that others can look up to. Therefore, the movie demonstrates that women do not have to be defined by their circumstances. She illustrated that pregnant teenagers can still be intelligent.
‘Juno’ also reflects the dehumanization of motherhood. As one watches the movie, one soon realizes that the pregnancy is like a problem that must be solved by the main character. Minimal attention has been given to the emotional attachment between mother and child, yet this is an inevitable part of pregnancy. Furthermore, Juno does not even recognize her unborn child as a real person.
This is seen by the fact that she frequently refers to her child as ‘the thing’. The audience is also informed about these sentiments through Juno’s voice-overs. One gets the impression that the child is abstract and displaced from Juno. She is perceived as something to be handed over to another family. Even after carrying the child for nine months and finally giving birth to her, Juno still supports adoption.
There is no bond formed between the natural mother and her child in the movie. After Juno gives away the child, she comments that the baby never really belonged to her or her partner. This illustrates that young mothers in this society are really distanced from their nurturing roles. Nonetheless, the writer does not completely dehumanize Juno; this teenager changes her mind when going to have the abortion and thus illustrates that she is compassionate.
Juno’s hospital technician also reinforces these values at a later segment of the movie. He believes that teenage pregnancies can be poisonous to a child. In fact, one can question the morality of such values. Juno’s family was urging her to give away her child to people who were not even related to them; they were complete strangers with questionable characters.
Mark (the adoptive father) was not sure about his life or his future role as a father. He even left Vanessa (the adoptive mother) at a time when she needed him the most. Furthermore, Mark fancied Juno regardless of her age. The movie maker endorses an adoption. She does not even question the safety and security of that child in the hands of such untrustworthy people. In the movie, parenting is optional and devoid of any emotional underpinnings.
The movie also depicts a certain level of patriarchal dominance (Ramos et al. 56). It seems like women are incapable of raising families on their own. In other words, this society shuns the idea of single motherhood as it is assumed that such women cannot make it. As such, the movie illustrates that men control resources so women (especially young ones) cannot sustain themselves.
The nuclear family appears to be superior to the extended family. None of the grandparents in the movie are considered for adoption. Her parents also prefer not to support Juno’s child. Paulie (Juno’s boyfriend) never tells his mother about the issue. Juno liaises with her parents to keep this matter away from Paulie’s mother who may have been interested in the adoption.
One can also trace elements of capitalism in the movie. Vanessa is seen as the ideal parent to this child because she has the material backing to take care of her. Since she can afford all luxurious items, then she is portrayed as the preferred candidate for motherhood. Vanessa talked about nesting or the need to prepare a nursery for one’s child. Therefore, it is this wealth that appears to be superior to any other form of care that a child can receive.
The movie writer disregards important concepts such as nutrition; essential nutrients can only be found in the biological mother’s milk. In addition, because a child develops in his or her biological mother’s womb then he or she must become attached to the sound and the voice of his or her mother. These concerns seem to have minimal consequences in the movie as material needs supersede all other needs.
The movie discounts mother to child affection through the main character’s attitude to her child. It endorses pro-life ideology and challenges traditional feminine roles by showing that pregnant teenagers can be intelligent and strong. It affirms capitalist and patriarchal dominance as seen through endorsement of the adoptive parents. Lastly, the movie reinforces nuclear family values since no member of the extended family is considered for the adoption. Most of the ideologies in the movie simply reflect conventional American values.
Ramos, Chris, Mayeda David & Pasko Lisa. Celluloid dreams: how film shapes America. NY: Kendall hunt publishing, 2010