A note from the author: I wrote this paper for an assignment. I really enjoyed writing this essay and I hope you enjoy reading it.
I believe that Juno will influence the portrayal of women of the films we’ll see in the next decade because of the intelligence and honesty that it gives to its female characters and the resonance that this movie has had with the current and upcoming movie making generation. We live in world where kids grow up too fast, men don’t grow up fast enough and women still fight the epic battle between career and family by themselves, even when they’re married. Juno examines these truths that color the modern reality and the way the some women navigate through it. Diablo Cody, the writer of Juno, has her own well-publicized past that seems to have granted her the freedom to look at womanhood and sexuality without shame, but as simply apart of life. Being unashamed about teenage sexuality allows Diablo’s characters to deal with Juno’s pregnancy in a practical, mature way. The women in this movie, all at different stages in their lives, create a picture of the different ways a woman can express herself and handle a situation practically and honestly without giving up her emotional truth or empathy.
With its awards and critical acclaim, Hollywood will be making Juno copies for at least another five years, but I believe that Juno will last much longer than its craze. I believe that it has hit a niche market that has been under-served for many years; the same market that helped “Gilmore Girls” last for seven seasons. An article by The Boston Globe said that “‘Juno’ serves cool, intelligent girls something they rarely see in a movie: themselves,” apparently so much so that, “A "Juno" is now a genre of sardonic high school girl.” “After years of being served mostly bland good girls and ciphers — from Molly Ringwald in the '80s to Alicia Silverstone in the '90s to Lindsay Lohan in the '00s — teenage girls are clearly starving for a female antihero,” according to Entertainment Weekly and Juno delivers.
Young girls are smart beyond their years in many areas of life, but not necessarily wise, Juno as a character explores this contradiction. The young women who Juno represents are the girls who heard the after-school specials about the horror of sex as well as the over-sexualization of Britney Spears and have determined that everyone is full of shit. The sardonic attitude is the reaction to being smart enough to not believe what everyone says, but finding little or no alternative; the combination of too much knowledge and not enough. In the information age where a girl typically hits puberty at 10 years old, Juno is heroine for the ages because she makes mistakes, uncovers falsehoods about life, and grows up too fast and just right at the same time.
Many mothers in stories about teenagers and teen pregnancy are portrayed as out-of-touch, image-concerned judges who do not understand or trust their children. In Juno’s world, Bren Mac Guff, Juno’s stepmother, plays a reliable, honest, trustworthy adult whose primary concern is Juno’s mental and physical health. She doesn’t give Juno any guilt or shame, but deals with the situation at hand. Bren Mac Guff is a heroine in her own right because she takes care of and staunchly defends a child who is not her own. The image of an independent woman who has a good relationship with both her husband and her children is pretty powerful especially when seen through the eyes of teenager in crisis. Bren Mac Guff represents the kind of support and role model girls need as they grow up, but don’t often get.
Vanessa, the woman who wants to adopt Juno’s baby, is a woman of the new millennium. The type A personality who has had her life set out before her since she was two. She has a successful career, a husband and a beautiful suburban life that is very sterile. Vanessa is, in essence, living the dream except for the fact that she is not a mother. Many women who have focused on their education and their careers come to a crossroads around their late 20’s to early 30’s about the fact that they have no children and fill like they have somehow failed at being a woman in that respect. Vanessa represents that drive to succeed as well as a woman who is more mature than the man she married.
One of the things that make the character of Vanessa interesting as a woman is what she doesn’t do. When Juno and her husband are caught in a compromising position, she doesn’t automatically blame Juno for whatever is going on. Instead she gets down to the root of the situation and the crisis within her own marriage. It’s an unexpected reaction that gives credit to the maturity of character as she does not try to compete for her husband’s affection. A smart character who balances the drive to succeed in the corporate world as well as the drive to be a mother, Vanessa is an example of a modern woman who, while she would prefer not to, is ultimately able to handle this world and her baby by herself.
In an article by Entertainment Weekly, Diablo Cody stated that ''There was a lack of authentic teen girl characters.... I saw writing this screenplay as an opportunity to create an iconic female, I think women are often positioned as a support structure for men, and that's certainly not been my experience. Some women want to be heroes!'' The continued box office success of Juno as well as its multiple awards have almost guaranteed it a place in the film canon. Juno’s female characters sends the message that a woman can be smart, funny and weird and get what she wants while still being smart, funny and weird. In this movie, everything is ultimate Juno’s decision and that’s empowering for young girls and women. In the end both Juno and Vanessa are capable of taking control of their lives and make a mature decision as mothers. It’s the women who have to deal with the reality of pregnancy and ultimately find a workable solution. Between in the fantasy of love, marriage and children and the reality of unexpected consequences, immature adults, jaded teenagers, Juno shows a hopeful dream that there can be happiness, albeit abnormal, for independent thinkers with two “X” chromosomes, a belief I think Hollywood and America in general needs to take more seriously.