Jump to content

Juno


Peter T Chattaway
 Share

Recommended Posts

Which, of course, doesn't matter a whip, for so many reasons.

Of course she's completely wrong that "if you knew me and if you knew the writer and the director, no one would ever say that," because I assumed that they were all pro-choice anyway and it didn't affect my views of the movie at all -- if anything I'm almost tempted to say I see it as MORE pro-life because it's not intentionally so.

Does this assume that pro-life and pro-choice are mutually exclusive? I see it as both.

A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 148
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

Does this assume that pro-life and pro-choice are mutually exclusive? I see it as both.

Someday we must discuss this confusion of yours. :)

Until then, my take on the film is: "Pro-life" and "pro-choice" as political terms designating legislative and juridical orientations are not in view here. What is in view here is an entity that is not just an inconvenient lump of tissue to be conveniently removed -- an entity that feels pain and has a heartbeat and fingernails, and the socially maladjusted dorks who care about that life may be onto something that the skeevy abortion-mill stiffs may not be. It is a life worth loving, worth having, worth wanting, worth caring about and caring for.

That's "pro-life" enough for me, and in the face of that at least some of the things that are often meant by "pro-choice" ring awfully hollow, in my opinion.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Until then, my take on the film is: "Pro-life" and "pro-choice" as political terms designating legislative and juridical orientations are not in view here.

I agree. One of the things I liked about the film was it was just human in the way it approached the whole thing. It wasn't political. It didn't have an agenda. It simply presented how this family and this young woman and this adoptive mother all experienced this situation. As such it opens hearts and minds to the truth that in the final analysis it is about our mutual humanity.

Denny

Since 1995 we have authored a commentary on film, cinema in focus. Though we enjoy cinema as an art form, our interests lie not so much in reviewing a film as in beginning a conversation about the social and spiritual values presented. We, therefore, often rate a film higher or lower due to its message rather than its quality of acting or film-making.

Cinema In Focus Website

Free Methodist Church of Santa Barbara Website

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mrs. CrimsonLine and I have been saying that Juno is not so much "pro-life" as it is life-affirming. The one is a political position, the other is a story orientation.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Mrs. CrimsonLine and I have been saying that Juno is not so much "pro-life" as it is life-affirming. The one is a political position, the other is a story orientation.

I partly agree, although I wouldn't want to concede the term "pro-life" entirely to a political position, nor "life-affirming" to a story orientation (not that you were necessarily doing either). Both "pro-life" and "life-affirming" are descriptions of human values -- not necessarily always of moral standards, but at least moral outlooks.

Nor would I want to concede that Juno is "merely" life-affirming rather than pro-life, for a specific reason: Among the connotations that "pro-life" brings to the table that "life-affirming" doesn't necessarily is affirmation of life in the womb. Juno ventures into this territory, and so I would want to keep the term "pro-life" on the table -- though I would add the caveat that the unqualified statement "Juno is a pro-life film" seems as problematic as "Juno is a pro-choice film" or even "Juno is not a pro-life film." I would rather speak of the film's pro-life resonances, implications, etc.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that the term "pro-life" was a piece of spin in the first place. Really it means "anti-abortion". Yes those people who are against abortion are doing it because of the value they place on life, but really, with regards to the issue of abortion they are anti it.

But being anti anything, and choosing a label with it are both uncomfortable so the label "pro-life" was chosen instead. But essentially that's a piece of spin.

Spin aside the film is pro-life, but I wouldn't say it was anti-abortion.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that the term "pro-life" was a piece of spin in the first place. Really it means "anti-abortion". Yes those people who are against abortion are doing it because of the value they place on life, but really, with regards to the issue of abortion they are anti it.

Hm. Would you also say that terms like "civil rights" and "feminism" (or "women's liberation") are "spin" and really mean "anti-discrimination"?

Besides, "pro-life" is also widely used to refer to opposition to euthanasia, among other potential issues. Legislatively, those may be separate issues, but in terms of moral outlook they proceed from a single source, and it seems reasonable to have a single term (if a somewhat flexible one, not unlike "feminism") that describes that outlook.

As I said above, "pro-life" is not just a political position; it usefully describes a moral outlook, and cannot usefully be reduced to opposition to abortion.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

SDG wrote:

: I would add the caveat that the unqualified statement "Juno is a pro-life film" seems as problematic as "Juno is a pro-choice film" or even "Juno is not a pro-life film."

Yep. Which is why I began my review by speaking of the film's "implicitly pro-life -- not 'anti-choice,' but certainly pro-life -- sensibilities".

MattPage wrote:

: Spin aside the film is pro-life, but I wouldn't say it was anti-abortion.

Well... I do think the film expressed a SKEPTICISM about abortion that was much more pronounced than what we see in, say, Knocked Up. "Fingernails", and all that. But it certainly wasn't taking a political stance against abortion or anything like that.

Alan Thomas wrote:

: I have no big problem with the term "anti-abortion", on one condition: The "pro-choice" folks must be called "pro-abortion". Either you call both sides what they each wish to be called (pro-life, pro-choice), or you call each pro/anti whatever the issue is.

Well, that's the crux of the problem right there. Pro-lifers and pro-choicers can't agree on what the issue IS. One side thinks it is "choice". The other side thinks it is "life".

Personally, I'm in favour of using whatever term is accurate within the immediate context. And in that regard, it is entirely possible that someone can be "pro-choice" but not "pro-abortion", or that someone might be personally "pro-life" but "pro-choice" as a matter of political principle, etc., etc.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The problem is that the term "pro-life" was a piece of spin in the first place. Really it means "anti-abortion". Yes those people who are against abortion are doing it because of the value they place on life, but really, with regards to the issue of abortion they are anti it.

Hm. Would you also say that terms like "civil rights" and "feminism" (or "women's liberation") are "spin" and really mean "anti-discrimination"?

Possibly, but I don't think the two examples are quite equivalent. In fact "anti-discrimination" correlates better to "pro-life" if were looking for comparisons

Besides, "pro-life" is also widely used to refer to opposition to euthanasia, among other potential issues. Legislatively, those may be separate issues, but in terms of moral outlook they proceed from a single source, and it seems reasonable to have a single term (if a somewhat flexible one, not unlike "feminism") that describes that outlook.

As I said above, "pro-life" is not just a political position; it usefully describes a moral outlook, and cannot usefully be reduced to opposition to abortion.

But this is the problem I think. "Pro-life" is, as you say, a moral outlook, but it's been stolen to represent a narrower political position. Are the film's actors and director really not for life. No (I suspect - and I think the film bears this out) but they are not anti-abortion, and so they reject the term.

I have no big problem with the term "anti-abortion", on one condition: The "pro-choice" folks must be called "pro-abortion". Either you call both sides what they each wish to be called (pro-life, pro-choice), or you call each pro/anti whatever the issue is.
No I think it should come down to an accurate representation, and I don't know ANYONE that is pro-abortion. Linguistically that would suggest trying to make people have abortions that weren't thinking of them. No, they just think people should be allowed a choice.

Perhaps the best solution would be if the "pro-life" camp were called anti-choice, but I can't see anyone accepting that tab.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Besides, "pro-life" is also widely used to refer to opposition to euthanasia, among other potential issues. Legislatively, those may be separate issues, but in terms of moral outlook they proceed from a single source, and it seems reasonable to have a single term (if a somewhat flexible one, not unlike "feminism") that describes that outlook.

As I said above, "pro-life" is not just a political position; it usefully describes a moral outlook, and cannot usefully be reduced to opposition to abortion.

But this is the problem I think. "Pro-life" is, as you say, a moral outlook, but it's been stolen to represent a narrower political position. Are the film's actors and director really not for life. No (I suspect - and I think the film bears this out) but they are not anti-abortion, and so they reject the term.

I think my issue with SDG is that "pro-life" as moral outlook is fairly inconsisently used. E.g., I could claim to be pro-life because I find capital punishment abhorrent. Many who identify themselves with the term support that same idea.

and I don't know ANYONE that is pro-abortion. Linguistically that would suggest trying to make people have abortions that weren't thinking of them. No, they just think people should be allowed a choice.

In a sense I am pro-abortion in that I want safe abortions to be readily available. Women will always have the "choice" to have an abortion, as they did before Roe v. Wade. The choice should not be a coat hanger.

(But then we've tangented far from the film)

Edited by Darrel Manson
A foreign movie can't be stupid.

-from the film
Armin

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Possibly, but I don't think the two examples are quite equivalent. In fact "anti-discrimination" correlates better to "pro-life" if were looking for comparisons

(blink blink)

Huh? Me no get it.

Positive value:

(1) value/dignity/sacredness of human life as such, from conception to natural death

(2) value/dignity/equality of women/minorities to men/majorities

Contravening policy/practice:

(1) abortion/euthanasia

(2) discrimination/chauvanism/racism

Negative value/policy description:

(defined by contravening policy/practice)

(1) anti-abortion/euthanasia

(2) anti-discrimination

Positive value/policy description:

(1) pro-life

(2) feminism/civil rights

What's the issue?

Here is your sentence with a couple of words changed:

The problem is that the term "feminism" was a piece of spin in the first place. Really it means "anti-discrimination". Yes those people who are against discrimination are doing it because of the value they place on women, but really, with regards to the issue of discrimination they are anti it.

Why is it not still just as good a sentence?

But this is the problem I think. "Pro-life" is, as you say, a moral outlook, but it's been stolen to represent a narrower political position.

No, I don't think so. The moral outlook I am speaking of entails the value of human life from conception to natural death. I wouldn't say that Juno actually affirms this, but I think there are resonances and implications.

Are the film's actors and director really not for life. No (I suspect - and I think the film bears this out) but they are not anti-abortion, and so they reject the term.

And rightly so, given their presuppositions. That doesn't affect the resonances and implications in their film.

No I think it should come down to an accurate representation, and I don't know ANYONE that is pro-abortion. Linguistically that would suggest trying to make people have abortions that weren't thinking of them. No, they just think people should be allowed a choice.

I think it is much more complicated than that actually. Some people ARE pro-abortion in the exact sense you describe, certainly in practice and sometimes even in principle.

Perhaps the best solution would be if the "pro-life" camp were called anti-choice, but I can't see anyone accepting that tab.

(blink blink)

Right then. So I'm still a long, long way from having any ability to make accurate guesses about what you might say next, or put the things you do say in any larger framework, which is another way of saying I don't understand the words that are coming out of your mouth.

...are you pro-choice...? (I ask solely for reasons of clarity.)

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think my issue with SDG is that "pro-life" as moral outlook is fairly inconsisently used. E.g., I could claim to be pro-life because I find capital punishment abhorrent. Many who identify themselves with the term support that same idea.

Certainly, "pro-life" fairly denotes a range of partly overlapping and partly contrary views -- a range that, I acknowledge, is broader than the description I offered above. So the heck what? How many descriptive terms is that NOT true for? Do you consider "pro-life" somehow more problematic in this regard or less consistently used than, say, feminist, progressive, conservative, liberal, neocon, Christian, feminist, D/democrat, R/republican, communist, Marxist? How many of these terms couldn't be swapped into your sentence above with at least equally valid results, if not more?

But I think that most of these terms, if not all, are still useful, and are more commonly and credibly applied to some views than others, and tend to have a strong center of generally recognized connotative ideas. Very few people would self-identify as a "feminist" without explanation if they didn't affirm women's suffrage, for instance. Nor would people self-identify as "pro-life" without explanation if they didn't affirm the value of life in the womb. Nor, if they did, would many of us find such a self-identification plausible or helpful. There's still a lot of room for disagreement among plausible self-identifiers in both categories.

(But then we've tangented far from the film)

Mods are welcome to split off at their discretion.

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think we need a new thread.

FWIW, there's a sense in which both those who find Juno "pro-life" and Page, when she refers to the one, specific decision which Juno makes, are right; since it's impossible to overextend the meaning of the scene to signify "all women should choose to remain pregnant"; but in Juno's case her decision is clearly seen to be the right one, and that begs the question, "Why?" The movie presents us with more than one possible answer to choose from . . .

1) Because he has fingernails,

2) Because he'll end up in a good home,

3) Because Juno doesn't really want an abortion.

I'm sure that list is far from complete . . . but any of those three are consistent with the movie, except insofar as they are inconsistent with each other.

That's just how eye roll.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Heh. Well, long-time members and former administrators can't move posts already posted to keep the breakaway discussion intact, that's all I'm saying.

Edited by SDG

“I write because I don’t know what I think until I read what I say.” — Flannery O'Connor

Writing at the new Decent Films | Follow me on Twitter and Facebook

Link to comment
Share on other sites

MattPage wrote:

: No I think it should come down to an accurate representation, and I don't know ANYONE that is pro-abortion.

Well, I can't think of anyone I know who is "pro-abortion" either, but certainly many people ARE, given the right circumstances -- such as the mother of Katherine Heigl's character in Knocked Up. Hmmm... now that I think about it, I may have to revise my opinion that Juno is a more "pro-life" film than Knocked Up. Juno IS more explicit about the reasons why the main character decides against abortion, but Knocked Up presents the main character making her decision AGAINST the advice given to her by her mother (and, indirectly, against the advice that the father gets from his friends), whereas in Juno, everybody just kind of assumes that everybody's getting abortions, until one day the main character decides that, well, maybe she won't. So Knocked Up presents a choice for life in the face of opposition to that choice, whereas Juno presents a choice for life in the face of nothing worse than apathy, and in the context of no small amount of sympathy and support.

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Right then. So I'm still a long, long way from having any ability to make accurate guesses about what you might say next, or put the things you do say in any larger framework, which is another way of saying I don't understand the words that are coming out of your mouth.

...are you pro-choice...? (I ask solely for reasons of clarity.)

I'll start with this first, I guess. Legally I think woman should have the right to choose - purely from a legislative point of view, and I must admit I'm not entirely comfortable with that position, but on balance that's where I am.

However, I do believe that we should do our best through education (both institutional and otherwise), counselling, availability of other options, dialogue and so on to persuade people of the value of the unborn child, so that when a teenage girl gets pregnant, abortion isn't the default position.

Possibly, but I don't think the two examples are quite equivalent. In fact "anti-discrimination" correlates better to "pro-life" if were looking for comparisons

(blink blink)

Huh? Me no get it.

Positive value:

(1) value/dignity/sacredness of human life as such, from conception to natural death

(2) value/dignity/equality of women/minorities to men/majorities

Contravening policy/practice:

(1) abortion/euthanasia

(2) discrimination/chauvanism/racism

Negative value/policy description:

(defined by contravening policy/practice)

(1) anti-abortion/euthanasia

(2) anti-discrimination

Positive value/policy description:

(1) pro-life

(2) feminism/civil rights

What's the issue?

Here is your sentence with a couple of words changed:

The problem is that the term "feminism" was a piece of spin in the first place. Really it means "anti-discrimination". Yes those people who are against discrimination are doing it because of the value they place on women, but really, with regards to the issue of discrimination they are anti it.

Why is it not still just as good a sentence?

Two issues here I think.

Firstly my last explanation wasn't very clear. Sorry! I'll lay it out like you did.

The specific issue being discussed - Abortion

The specific issue being discussed - Feminism

The life-affirming position being taken - anti-abortion

The life-affirming position being taken - (pro) feminism

The broader position that informs that specific position - pro-life

The broader position that informs that specific position - anti-discrimination

Hope that clarifies it.

Secondly, the reason your re-work doesn't work so well, aside from the above, is that what the words "anti-abortionist" and "feminist" connote (rather purely what they denote) are quite different - the former is seen (for whatever, crazy reason) as less desireable a label than the later. Whether it's the acts of the anti-abortionists of the past, or their media image, or that people prefer to be known by what they are for rather than what they are against, or just that it contains a nasty word like abortion in it.

So the same political position is now expressed using a more attractive phrase "pro-life", I agree that's in part because of the broader outlook that informs that specific position, but that doesn't negate the fact that it's spin - in fact that's a classic spin technique.

Perhaps I just watched this film and Reitman's anti-spin film Thank you for Smoking in to close a proximity...

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Not at all. With a MacGuffin, it really doesn't matter what "it" is. The movie's not about "it," the movie's about the characters pursuing "it."

In Juno, Juno's pregnancy is the precipitating event, but it is inextricably thematically-linked to every part of the story. It matters very much what "it" is, if "it" is her pregnancy.

In case you were wondering, my name is spelled "Denes House," but it's pronounced "Throatwobbler Mangrove."
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well, the baby of someone named MacGuff could be a "MacGuffin." ;)

"A director must live with the fact that his work will be called to judgment by someone who has never seen a film of Murnau's." - François Truffaut

Twitter.
Letterboxd.

Reviews and essays at Three Brothers Film.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

"Sympathy must precede belligerence. First I must understand the other, as it were, from the inside; then I can critique it from the outside. So many people skip right to the latter." -- Steven D. Greydanus
Now blogging at Patheos.com. I can also still be found at Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. See also my film journal.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forget Juno. Out-of-wedlocks births are a national catastrophe.

By Emily Yoffe

Readers also like to rebuke me for my preference that two decent people who are committed to each other and find themselves procreating without intending to should provide the stability of marriage for their child. "Having a child will be stressful and life altering enough. Parents need to work on their relationship on their time schedule." "I feel that a baby is its own blessing. Have that blessing before you get married." "How dare you imply that an unexpected pregnancy should lead to marriage? You are simply out of touch with modern culture."

That may be. But it also means that modern culture is out of touch with the needs of children. Some researchers identify out-of-wedlock births as the chief cause for the increasing stratification and inequality of American life, the first step that casts children into an ever more rigid caste system. Studies have found that children born to single mothers are vastly more likely to be poor, have behavioral and psychological problems, drop out of high school, and themselves go on to have out-of-wedlock children. ...

There is a scene in the teen pregnancy movie Juno in which the title character, a 16-year-old who has decided not to abort her unplanned baby but to give it up for adoption, is having an ultrasound. The technician, thinking she has on the examining table another knocked-up teenager planning to raise her child, makes disparaging remarks about children born into those circumstances. We are supposed to loathe this character and cheer when Juno's stepmother puts her in her place. But I found myself sympathetic to the technician. Why is it verboten to express the truth that growing up with a lonely, overwhelmed mother and a missing father is a recipe for childhood pain?

Edited by Christian

"What matters are movies, not awards; experiences, not celebrations; the subjective power of individual critical points of view, not the declamatory compromises of consensus." - Richard Brody, "Godard's Surprise Win Is a Victory for Independent Cinema," The New Yorker

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Phyllis Schlafly (yes, THAT Phyllis Schlafly) weighs in!

America is in bad shape if the financial success of this movie reflects today's high school culture: sexual activity without marriage, crude pictures on the walls, vulgar language, a girl smoking a pipe, unattractive clothes, uncombed hair, enjoyment of slasher movies and weird music, and marriage breakup.

8O

Edited by Holy Moly!
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Well I'd say America (and many other western nations including the UK) ARE in bad shape, that those things have been pretty common for the last 3 decades, and that only about half of the list are reason why we might be in bad shape.

An additional reason why we are in bad shape is older people (no doubt including me)

a - taking things that are morally neutral and citing them as evidence of our decline.

and

b - focusing a massive amount of our marketing into one of our most vulnerable / suggestible section of society.

Matt

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 1 year later...
particularly nasty scene in which Juno and her stepmother shout down a radiologist for asking sensible questions about her pregnancy

As discussed earlier in this thread, yes and amen. That moment bothers me every time I see it. This reminds me of what bugs me most about American Beauty... the sneering sarcasm and condescension toward some people for their (admittedly questionable) convictions. Something's wrong when the sarcastic response to a problem is ten times more destructive and wicked than what provoked it.

Hey, nothing like a joining a discussion two years old. Anyway, mostly just posting to work out my thoughts--if anyone wants to jump in, feel free, but not obligated.

I liked Juno--just watched it last night, after watching Slumdog Millionaire (or is it "Millunnare"?), so it was interesting dynamic pairing 2007 and 2008's hot indies together. Anyway, first to the scene in question, and then to a few general thoughts.

Janney's character is clearly overreacting to the technician--Juno points this out in a subsequent conversation with creepy Mark while giving him the ultrasound pic. Something about the stepmom going ballistic and them getting escorted off the premises. I think the film, which does a nice job throughout of giving its characters real flaws without using them as playthings for the audience to snark at, is doing that again in this case. We see Janney's character overreact a few times throughout the film, and I think this is the most prominent example.

I really dug this film--not perfect, but tight. In particular I liked the handling of the characters--ennobling them all with a warmth and depth that did not seem trite and in such a way that did not treat them like types or stock roles. I think of the parents in Transformers--totally written as one dimensional stock "not-cool" parents, and then look at the MacGuffs. Night and day difference. Even more telling of the quality of the characterizations is the relationship Reitman has with them contra Payne or Anderson--all three work in a somewhat stylized screen world, but its really only Reitman's characters that seem like people that you'd imagine the director having a beer with (well, maybe not Juno because she's preggers.)

Some of the dialogue took me out of the film (honest to blog, its true). But on the whole, and including the fine points on the Vanessa, Mark, Juno triangle that SDG mentioned two years ago, Juno really is a well crafted, really well acted, tight film. Its kudos are well-deserved.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


×
×
  • Create New...