Juno Misses Chance to Address Abortion Honestly


It is hard to know what takes the cruelest blow in Juno; a very popular 2007 movie a leading film critic insists is "destined to become a classic" (Richard Roeper). First place could go to the Truth, which is really done in – albeit another critic judges the film "a thing of beauty and grace – a perfect movie about responsibility, maturity, and unconditional love." (Robert Wilansky). Second place here is a toss-up between abortion clinics and clinic waiting-room males, both of whom are misrepresented beyond recognition.  

The film's many shortcomings not withstanding, it warrants MUST viewing by all readers of this critique, as it reveals much about what we are up against where mass media treatment is concerned. Indirect in its underlying condemnation of abortion on request, the film is a far more costly blow against abortion rights than anything the anti-abortion crowd could possibly hope for or ever produce – and they are big gainers (at no cost to them) from its sappy popularity.

To be sure, very little time is given to showing an Abortion Clinic – and for that pro-Choice Americans must be grateful. For what is shown comes across as no place you would not want anything to do with. For openers, its parking lot is nearly empty, as if to suggest hardly anyone comes there (only 1,400,000 or so clients a year in recent years). For another, there is only one protester outside, a sweet Asian-American high-school girl, carrying a sign with the standard false picture of a third semester fetus passed off as a first-semester one. She lies to Juno about the likely state of fetal development. ("It has fingernails!"), a lie that takes a toll. One lone demure protester – and this, as a time when clinics in Albuquerque, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and elsewhere are experiencing dangerous and ugly mass protests by impassioned extremists, some of whom the police can barely contain.

Once our heroine gets inside things get worse. She meets an ultra-hip young poseur pretending to be a trained clinic receptionist who barely welcomes Juno. She then publicly questions the girl about intimate matters in less than an empathetic way. As this wasn't bad enough, she volunteers details about the sexual appetite of her boy friend, and leaves Juno more confused and unsettled than ever. 

Having thus set an unappealing stage, the camera next surveys hapless stereotypes the film-makers want America to believe are the major types found in a typical clinic waiting room. The only people shown are female (though perhaps 50 percent of actual clients have a male accompanying them). All of the women appear doleful, though many actual clients are relieved to have this medical option. All appear isolated, though many actual clients come with close and supportive friends. Little wonder that a panicked Juno is next seen energetically running away from the Clinic, much to the delight of the lone protestor who shouts after her – "Your baby has fingernails!"

Where abortion clinic waiting room males are concerned, mis-representation is much the same. First, none are shown, though as many as 600,000 or more guys find themselves in the role annually (25 percent of whom have been there more than once). Second, although a scene shows a high school teacher demonstrating to a sex education class how a condom is rolled down a stage-prop (the standard banana), Juno's boy friend is pictured as utterly naïve about contraception (the nearly 3,200 such males who have completed a survey for me want to know more about it, but do not seem as anywhere ignorant as the film character).

On three scores, however, the film stumbles, which is to say, it actually gets something right: First, it has the boy quickly consent to Juno's pro-abortion decision, only to wonder later who really made the decision? He could not recall being asked his view before the matter seemed to get resolved (nearly 4 in 5 males tell me this is their experience, though close to 90 percent support the abortion). Second, Juno does not invite him to go with her to the clinic (15 percent of women never tell their sex partner before the abortion, and over 50 percent are accompanied by another female). Third, the boy does not discuss his situation with anyone (nor did my 3,000-plus male respondents, though a small minority spoke briefly with clinic staffers while the abortion was occurring).

Which is to say, clinic waiting room males need a lot more care, attention, and contraception education than hinted at in this film … if, that is, we are to soon reduce the rate of ill-timed and unwanted pregnancies. (I plan with Pittsburgh area Clinic Director Claire Keyes to soon discuss the case for reform here in another RH essay).

This movie, allegedly a "marvelously offbeat comedy, which is sheer joy from beginning to end" (Critic Dennis Dermody), had an opportunity to treat abortion or pregnancy honestly, and it did not. A critic would have you believe you will "laugh deeply" (Peter Travers). I hope you will instead sigh deeply, and get angry at irresponsible mass media types that with this film have set back the cause of abortion on request and the assumption of male responsibilities in the matter. While there is much to admire about Juno as a witty and promising young person, there is much about Juno as a film to resent and regret.

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  • invalid-0

    Wow, what’s up your ass?
    It’s a COMEDY, it’s not supposed to be realistic.

  • invalid-0

    No kidding!

  • invalid-0

    Why after so many obviously bias political left movies out of Hollywood are you getting your undies in such a bunch because a low budget film protrays an abortion clinic as that of a death house (which ironically it is). The left is so preoccupied in the favorable light of death to the unborn, but yet would be against the death penalty for convicted murderers. That is why I started voting Republican. The Democratic party is so hypocritical.

  • invalid-0

    geez, you’re so uptight. This movie wasn’t political, it doesn’t have to correctly represent anything. I feel sorry for you it must be difficult to go through life with your outlook.

  • invalid-0

    All the patients are portrayed as miserable creatures, a stereotype which doesn’t jibe with the reactions of real (as opposed to reel) women. But then, maybe someone will come out with a movie portraying a Crisis Pregnancy Center” as a house of lies (which, ironically,it is).

  • http://www.condomman.com invalid-0

    from an anti-abortion blogger that the movie “sends out a message, and it makes the message sound hip and cool.” I don’t think the movie was purposefully anti-abortion, I think the script writer was just ignorant and looking to add a few laughs to the scene. But that is remarkably irresponsible for such a delicate and important topic.

  • invalid-0

    There was at least one male in the waiting room. Or the women scratching her chin had a very thick beard.

  • invalid-0

    Personally, I think Juno is a great movie — and it did make me laugh out loud often in the theater. The scene when Juno goes in for an abortion did irritate me (as a former clinic staffer) with it’s unrealistic portrayal of the health center as an uncaring, unprofessional setting. Dr. Shostak makes good points about irresponsible media and the growing and dangerous antagonism of protesters around the country.

    However, Juno and Michael Cera’s character don’t have a relationship, so I wasn’t surprised that she didn’t involve him further in the decision-making process. And I think the story had an interesting way of showing that, as a teenager, Juno’s not ready to take care of a kid. She makes a responsible (if not well-informed) decision to find adoptive parents and give her baby to them. As a pro-choicer, supporting all pregnancy options, I enjoyed this smart and funny movie.

    This film’s quirky scenario, witty dialogue, great acting and sassy teenage lead make it a more than worthwhile viewing experience — Juno stands out as a gem among the rest of the standard cookie-cutter Hollywood blockbusters.

  • invalid-0

    The movie had funny moments, but what’s so comical about a teenage girl getting pregnant? And comedies CAN be realistic– that’s usually what makes them good.

  • invalid-0

    May be a commercial like this would soften the blow?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cU6lBe47fhQ

  • harry834

    Hope the steward doesn't prove too distracting to the pilot…

    Or is concentration overrated?

    Here's to safe sex messages, and making them fun :)

     

     

  • invalid-0

    Juno is anti-life. It trivalizes the value of a child and trivalizes the effect of pregnancy on the life, body and health of a teenager. Having some dumb-ass hipster have a child like it was a kewl thing trivalizes that child and the responsible thing to do is not just to have kids have kids. Life is more sacred than “opps, I tripped over some sperm — guess I gotta have a baby.”

  • invalid-0

    A teenager should not trivialize the life of her child just to avoid trivializing her own life.

  • invalid-0

    It didn’t seem malicious, it seemed ignorant. Either it was intentional satire, or it was written by somebody who was utterly ignorant and misinformed.

    It was probably meant to be unrealistic. Juno changes her mind because she’s told that the fetus has fingernails. Seriously. Who changes their mind over something like that?

  • invalid-0

    Care to explain?

    Are you saying that a pregnant teen, rather than aborting or carrying to term and giving the baby up for adoption, should be forced to raise a child? Do you understand at all why that’s a bad idea in a lot of cases? Or how being pregnant, giving birth and being a parent do a lot more than “trivialize” someone’s life?

  • invalid-0

    “..a low budget film protrays an abortion clinic as that of a death house…”

    Never happens in the film. The scene is not filled with horror or fear, but an intense anxiety as best. The office is portrayed as unpleasant, lonely, and uncomfortable, but that’s about it. The sole staff member is portrayed as friendly and well-intentioned, but unprofessional, creepy, and ignorant. You obviously never saw the film.

    As for hypocrisy, you’ve got it backwards. Killing sentient people, while they are criminals, but not allowing non-sentient life forms to be killed and elevating their status above that of women? That’s hypocritical.

    It’s not Hollywood that has a liberal bias, it’s REALITY.

  • http://www.dualactioncleansenow.com invalid-0

    I think the whole concept of people getting angry over a comedy is a bit uncalled for. It was a satirical movie that wasn’t belittling or delving into issues. A movie like this must be taken at face value, not as an attempt to make something politically correct or incorrect.

  • http://notmother.blogspot.com invalid-0

    I read your review with interest because I have had very little luck finding anyone who doesn’t approve of this film.

    I have not seen it and hope I never have to.

    I am a birthmother. The thought of having one of the only mainstream movies about adoption treat it as a comedy is devastating to me.

    I’ve read reviews by others touched by adoption and while there is a great deal of variance in their opinions about the film’s worthiness, every one of them agrees that the way adoption was portrayed is not only far from reality, but full of the stereotypes that all of us wish to erase.

    I have a beautiful open adoption in which my daughter and her adoptive family are part of my extended family and I am a part of theirs. It is truly everything I could have hoped for. Despite this, I wouldn’t wish the pain of adoption on my worst enemy.

    Giving your child up is not the simple solution this movie has made it out to be nor is the closed adoption it advocates healthy for mother or child.

    You are right. This is a film for pro-lifers who want people to believe that adoption is the easy solution to unplanned pregnancies when in fact, adoption and abortion are two very different choices that are best left to the woman who is with child.

  • invalid-0

    All movies are political. For that matter, all songs and works of art are, too. They give a message, however unintended, because people mimic TV, movies, and pop songs.

    And it’s always difficult facing the truth. It’s a shame you choose not to. Some of us face unpleasant reality every day and are better people for it.

  • invalid-0

    I have seen abortion videos and would not wish any one else to see such skin curdeling murder as I did. I have not yet seen the movie but I am looking forward to it. I am sure not everything in this movie is truthful about abortion, abortion clinics,adoption, and a child carrying a child but all movies are made with their own twist anyway. I also expect people to condemn this movie who have no problem with getting an abortion, which is why I feel that abortions contribute to the lack of respect and lack of worth of a childs life in todays society. It is a privelage and a Blessing from God to become pregnant, but sadly safe sex has been thrown out the window along with the worth of human life.

  • invalid-0

    Little wonder that a panicked Juno is next seen energetically running away from the Clinic, much to the delight of the lone protestor who shouts after her – “Your baby has fingernails!”

    Actually, the protester tells her that before she goes in. When she leaves, she calls after her, “God appreciates your miracle!” which I thought was a pretty hilarious and on-target line.

    There are a lot of disturbing errors in your article.

  • http://www.associatedcontent.com invalid-0

    Thank you, Poor Statue for shining a realistic light on us birth moms regarding the movie. I too am a birth mom who enjoys an open adoption. I echo everything you said. You can check my e book out that I wrote about my experiences on booklocker.com under the family heading, then search under “MacKenzie’s Hope.”

  • invalid-0

    If abortion had been legal in 1946, neither I, my 2 children, or my 2 grandchildren would be here today. My unwed birth mother took me to an adoption agency which placed me with a wonderful mother and father. My son and his wife recently heard the heartbeat of our third grandchild expected in July at only 8 weeks along. How anyone can advocate abortion of precious babies is beyond me.

  • harry834

    "How anyone can advocate abortion of precious babies is beyond me."

    Because the lives of pregnant women matter too. And essential to the meaning an ddignity of one's life is to decide the fate of one's own body. When one has an unwanted pregnancy, this right matters more than any other time.

    I'm sorry if you feel violated because pregnant women still have the legal ability to choose their body's fate. Not all adopted children will come to the same conclusions as you. Not everyone feels like their own experience, even if they choose to carry the pregnancy, is a rationale to force pregnant women to make the same choice.

    Example: A woman who chooses to carry her pregnancy, against her family's wishes, and becomes a happy parent…but openly supports the right of other women to choose differently.

    http://www.rhrealitycheck.org/blog/2008/01/22/iowa-woman-gives-thanks-for-daughter-and-for-choice

     

     

  • invalid-0

    The horror movie clip showed a women being drilled in the abdomen– I think it was a deliberate commentary on the brutal reality of abortion.

    My wife and I loved this movie- and are truly pleased it offended you.

    BTW- they finally got rid of our neighborhood abortion clinic on a prominent street corner. I hope an inspiring film such as this could lead to more closures.

    :)

    • invalid-0

      It’s a good thing that you would never need an abortion. If men could get pregnant abortion would be free!