Does Juno Take Teen Pregnancy Lightly?
by Ken Evans
January 10, 2008
During the last few days I have been approached five times by people asking me one question: "Does Juno take teen pregnancy lightly?" I was a caught off guard by this because I had never really thought about it. It probably didn't occur to me since I don't have kids and the people that approached me do. Mostly they wanted to know because their son or daughter wanted to see it and they were concerned. This is an interesting question and I have thought about it quite a bit since discussing it with these concerned parents.
I have seen Juno about three times now and feel I have a firm grasp on the struggles and concepts presented. My final conclusion, and what I told those parents, was that I didn't think Juno took teen pregnancy lightly. The film didn't focus on the struggles she had to endure being pregnant, although it didn't overlook them either. It touched on her dealing with the changes her body was going through, the embarrassing stares and treatment from her classmates, and the sudden responsibilities forcing her to act older then she was. I never got a feeling like the movie was preaching that teen pregnancy isn't that big a deal.
What I really want to know is your thoughts on the subject. For those that have seen it, what did you think? Did you think it portrayed teen pregnancy lightly or as something difficult that must be faced? Let me know the feeling you got walking away from Juno.
Reader Feedback - 27 Comments
you kno it think it kinda did, i really liked the movie, but it made it seem like oh ill just give it away it wont be easy and that my life will go on, as seen by the ending scene, but it avoids all the problems that would be dealt, when the kid grows up, him wanting to kno his parents etc.
rick on Jan 10, 2008
I've gotta agree with you, Ken. I think the focus wasn't on the struggles. Part of that is largely because of Juno's character/personality. She's sort of socially detached from the world (largely because she's so young) so she doesn't get that she shouldn't drop in on the adopting couple without notification, and she doesn't understand Mark's (Jason Bateman's character) feelings. The only times you really see glimpses of her vulnerability (i.e. of the difficulties she's going through) are when she's alone, or with Bleeker or her father--the two people she is most comfortable with. And at those times you do see these very brief glimpses of the struggle that it is before she shuts that vulnerability down in order to cope with it. I hope that was coherent. The short version: I agree with Ken.
Lawrence on Jan 10, 2008
I agree Ken the film focused more on the struggles of being forced into a situation way above her age and having to make serious changes. It never shows how it is as easy decision to give a baby up for adoption and thus does not take teen pregnancy lightly.
Napier's News on Jan 10, 2008
I agree with you, the focus wasn't about a teen being pregnant. I felt the movie was meant to be like films like Superbad that kind of reach to a younger audience. I feel like any of these people could have been my friends in high school. Not all of my friends would have acted that way under the circumstances, but Juno was a really strong character for someone her age. Not all teen pregnant people are, but I think if anything this movie tells kids as well as adults that a teenager has the ability to be strong enough to pull through these situations.
rachel on Jan 10, 2008
This whole debate has been generated by the concerns of a few parents. Their concern is: Will watching JUNO make my child more likely to have sex and become pregnant. To which there is only one response: If your kid is young enough (or dumb) enough to let a movie influence them in matters of sex and pregnancy, then NO, they shouldn't see JUNO. Also, you are a poor parent. If you are honestly concerned that JUNO- a movie- may make teen-pregnancy more appealing to your child, then you have an urgent need to improve your relationship with them. And until you make that improvement, you probably shouldn't let her see ANY movies. We wouldn't want her running away from home to become a pirate, would we? Or how about this: go and watch the movie WITH your kid. It's a cute and funny film. So have some laughs together and afterwards TALK about it with them. You can fill in the blanks that the movie leaves out. And if you're too much of a douche to talk with your kids, find some cooler adult (aunt/uncle, older babysitter, young hip teacher) who will take your kid and a couple of their friends to JUNO and talk about it with them.
M. Johnson on Jan 10, 2008
What the film does quite well is show that the sex was not the best decision, and the resulting pregnancy was a consequence which had to be dealt with. Juno dealt with it in her way, and she was responsible. Going way beyond her age, she showed that she thought about the easy way out, chose not to, and found another way to deal: give the baby for adoption. What I took away is that although teen pregnancy is not a good thing, something good can come from it! But, one man's sacrifice or pain is another man's joy. I think that's the message here (although it may not work out this beautifully in ALL cases). As a parent, see the film with your kids, talk about what your kids learned or think and have a good conversation about movies and reality, about sex and responsibility, and also about the film as a FILM. Good luck! 🙂
Young on Jan 10, 2008
Look at it this way: How many teen movies glorify sex & underage drinking? Juno should be held up as a good example simply for a teen move to show that there are consequences to your actions.
jason_md2020 on Jan 10, 2008
As someone who accidentally impregnated his 19 year old girlfriend (now wife) in a community of family and friends that find that sort of thing most shameful, I found quite a lot to relate to in Juno. I don't think it took teen pregnancy lightly, but at the same time I actually don't recommend the film for most teenagers. I don't think it's a film they'll understand all the way through. And, as with anything interesting, I think there's a pretty good shot many of them will miss the messages of the movie entirely. But, for those that do understand the, I think they will see _responsibility_ as the high moral value of the film.
Jeff on Jan 10, 2008
I agree with Ken. I don't think Juno took teen pregnancy lightly. It was a very interesting movie, in that while it was a lighthearted and funny overall, I still felt that it had an underlining sad feel to it. None of the situations she faced were positive ones. Even at the end, it was bittersweet. It showed that there were consequences to their decision to mess around on "that chair", and that there are other options besides abortion (which depending on your religious views is wrong, and regardless of your religious views has a deep emotional impact on most girls). Some might take Juno’s nonchalant attitude as a sign that she is taking her teen pregnancy lightly. However, I agree with Lawrence, that this is obviously Juno’s method of coping with a situation that she doesn’t really know how to handle. Her vulnerabilities and fears are shown in the film, and I think her struggle (as Ken said) is not focused on but is seen. Now regarding whether or not teens should go see this movie, I think M. Johnson hit it on the head. If parents are concerned that their children won’t understand the message, then this movie is a perfect opportunity for parents educate their children.
Brandon on Jan 11, 2008
You are dead on the money Ken with your response.
Ryanq on Jan 11, 2008
To the parent wanting to raise a child who can make sound decisions, the fact that Juno knows so innately that what is in her is a human life is a wonderful aspect to the film. No matter how casually or imperfectly she may occasionally respond, she ultimately just knows what is right and what would be wrong and this knowledge is a major driver in her decision. The film is patently pro-life in a most wonderful way in our modern culture, meaning that it makes the de facto pro-life case without calling on religion.
Craig on Jan 12, 2008
I volunteer as an expert on teen issues and problems, and in the past few months my questions about teen pregnancy have increased tenfold. I'm seriously concerned, as these are letters from 13 to 15 year-old girls who WANT TO BECOME PREGNANT. The letter I answered tonight was horrifying. A 14 year-old's boyfriend asked her if she would have a baby because "he loves kids." She said she felt her mother could help with expenses, and having a baby would, "make his day." She didn't mention his age, but he sounds more like a pedophile than a boyfriend. Who would ask such a thing of a child? Certainly not someone who cares about her health-physical, emotional or mental. I haven't seen or heard of this film. I just googled "Movie-teen pregnancy" and got these responses. Now I know. Unfortunately, kids who are not nurtured are those who will see this film, so it won't open up a dialogue with a parent; only immature friends who think this sounds like a swell idea. The 14-year-old girl said she thought the idea sounded "exciting" and that she was sure her mother would support her "once she is used to the idea." God save us all.
Kjirstin on Jan 21, 2008
Consider, Kjirstin, is that a movie may be making teens more comfortable in discussing things that have been going through their heads for centuries. And to blame one movie that holds teen pregnancy at it's core is a bit extreme...how about those movies that degrade young women, objectify them, show them that the only way to please a man is to give him what he wants (sex, heavy make up, skinny bodies, etc)? Those movies are the ones to be concerned about. Perhaps you should see the film. You might change your mind. This movies actually encourages some critical thinking from our wonderful teen population and I would be honored to raise a daughter who had the brains and morals of Juno.
Laura on Jan 23, 2008
How could a "teen" have ANYTHING in his head for "centuries"? jk. A dialogue is certainly welcome, and honestly, I'm thankful they are writing to me. I wish they could talk with their parents. I'm not "blaming" this movie for anything; simply sharing with this audience how my mail has increased substantially since the release of this film. I'm looking forward to seeing it, as, after many years of observation, adoption is the only option I feel is best for these girls. In every case, it's certainly been better for their babies. As to the point well taken about the objectification of women I'll say only that the girls (ages 11 to 16 most commonly) who come to me with problems do not see themselves in those characters (sex, heavy make-up, skinny bodies), so it never sinks in far enough to count. Juno is different. They understand and connect to her instantly. What I'm saying is that some of these girls WANT TO BE JUNO. If they aren't pregnant yet, they are trying to get that way. I'm not saying your film is a bad example, merely pointing out that SOME girls (without fully developed brains, obviously, which is a problem at that age already) think Juno is so fabulous, they want to be just like her, and that, unfortunately, is pregnant. It is my sincere hope that all parents will see this film with their children-male and female-and start talking. My email, unfortunately, leads me to believe it is something they are watching in secret with friends, as if it's something "Mom" wouldn't want them to see, and the discussion generated is along these lines: "So, have you 'done it' yet?" "No, but I bought a pregnancy test kit. I can't wait!" Remember, you, me, and the writers are seeing this from an adult POV. The kids are KIDS! As Bill Cosby so aptly puts it, they are "brain damaged!" They are modeling the heroine, or at least wanting to, and it's a bit scary to see how far some of them are preparing to go.
Kjirstin on Jan 23, 2008
Fascinating discussion. I am a physician who takes care of pregnant women and delivers babies. I think that it may be easy to discount Kjirstin's point of view, and I have felt that this was an intelligent movie that shows a likable and intelligent girl working to do the right thing after what we would all acknowledge was probably a mistake. But recollecting the several teenage girls I have seen over the years who did actually want to get pregnant when that was obviously not the right path, I can certainly now see how to that group of kids, which is, in my opinion, a small but very real minority, the misguided attempt to emulate this delightful character, Juno, could lead to additional poor decisions. Certainly a line of thinking worth discussing. Of course, as a parent, I'm fairly confident my kids can see this film and understand it on a more adult level, but the kids Kjirstin's talking about obviously missed out on the parental guidance that would allow them to do so. Nice dialogue.
Craig Bradley on Jan 24, 2008
Thank you, Dr. Bradley. Yes, these are certainly not the children of two-parent families with lots of love and supervision. Many of you would be shocked to know how many "lost girls" there are in this country. Yes, they are a minority, but this still adds up to hundreds of thousands of girls running around without a lick of common sense their heads, and the ability to procreate. A dangerous combination, imho. This is an issue for society, as we will deal with it one way (helping them now) or another--shelling out more of our tax dollars to keep them in Pampers and formula, because these are also girls who find nursing repugnant, care nothing for the environmental damage of 'disposable' (not!) diapers (they wouldn't wash a cotton one even if they owned a washing machine) and feel no shame whatsoever in bringing into the world another baby, without a father, to feed at the welfare trough. In fact, they feel entitled to princess status for bearing a child. Though they swear they will be good mothers and love their children, this usually lasts less than a year. They dump the baby off on their own mother, and go off to find another guy, thinking the outcome will be different, which of course is ludicrous. Back in the 1950's these girls were forcibly sterilized. In these enlightened times, we tell them where to go to find public assistance. Adoption? Never! Why? Because the baby is their possession-often the only one they have-and signing away parental rights forever is not an option for them, no matter how much they relate to Juno.
Kjirstin on Jan 24, 2008
Recently, I've been searching online for statistics and reports on "Juno" for a speech I'm hoping to give in a class this year. I am 17 years old and my friends and I raced off to see "Juno" as soon as it came out. I understand Kjirstin's worries on the subject of pregnancy in teen girls; but, I'd really like to give you my opinion as one of those teenage girls on the movie. Juno is different. She's not the beautiful, popular girl that gets pregnant because of a one night stand with the star football player. She's an average, everyday girl that took a risk because of an uncontrollable desire to see if sex really is what it's cracked up to be. That's what these teenage girls that are writing to you want to know. They are average. When they see Juno, they see a person that relates to them. The fact that Juno is so strange allows teenagers to understand that pregnancy can happen to anyone. It's not always going to happen to the football star and his hot girlfriend. This enables them to realize that their actions can cause very extreme conditions that can effect their entire lives. This movie also touches on 4 different types of alternatives for teens who do get pregnant. They obviously touch on raising the baby yourself, having an abortion, and putting it up for adoption. However, at 17, I had never known that a person could actually find a family that would want a child right at birth. This way, you can get to know the family. Yes, Juno is extremely naive in the movie. She even gets into a bit of trouble with the family; but, she eventually comes to good measures and figures out what to do. This option is an amazing choice for a young adult. It would obviously be extremely hard for a teenager to raise a baby themselves; adoption, can be a very long process; and abortion may be too much for some people. It's nice to know that there is another option. One that will allow you to take the whole nine months to prepare for and get to know the other family. These many options portrayed in the film can give a teenager a much better perception on pregnancy and that they still have a chance. It gives those that honestly did not try to get pregnant more opportunities to think about. Juno also shows a sense of sadness at the end of the movie after she has her baby. Honestly, I thought she was going to want to keep the child. She shows that even though throughout the movie, she acted completely unattached to her child, there was still room in her to show the audience that no matter what your decision is there's always a reason to be happy about it; but, it's not wrong to feel sad. "Juno" may have a strange impact on some teens; wanting to get pregnant and have sex with their boyfriends. If it does, they're missing the real message that this movie is bringing. It's a way for teenagers to feel connected to a real-life situation. Instead of watching some black and white film in health class about abstinence, they're watching a movie in the theaters that not only allows them to understand the responsibility they must take when they decide to have sex, but it gives this information to them in a humorous way, allowing them to stay interested. I know, I'm one girl out of a billion. After I came home from the movie, I talked with my mom about it. How it impacted me so well. Maybe, Kjirstin, you should try talking to these teenagers that are writing to you questions. Try to see what about this movie gives them the idea of wanting to have a baby. Try to explain to them that the movie isn't about getting pregnant, it's about the media trying to get Teenage America to learn the responsibilities that they are putting upon themselves.
amber on Jan 25, 2008
Thanks for writing, Amber. Mostly, thank you for being a level-headed teen who writes well and isn't afraid to state her opinion. Your last paragraph showed me that you and your mother have a great relationship. That seems to be the difference these girls need. They mainly suffer from mother's who had them when they, themselves, were too young, and instead of parenting, they want to be pals. I do try to communicate with the girls who write, and hopefully help stem the tide. I wonder how many readers happened to catch Katie Couric's timely report on teen pregnancy last night on CBS News? She said 750,000 teenage girls will have a baby this year, and in 2006 it was up by 20,000. The report mentioned the films, "Knocked-Up" and "Juno" questioning as I did if the content is cause for alarm. The report included four high school seniors, whom they interviewed. I will quote them here. "I think sex in the media has definitely gone up over the years." Zoe Nageotte. "Having an unplanned pregnancy is a big deal and it shouldn't be talked about in a cavalier manner." Tracy Sidler. Dr. Victoria Reterno suggested that a cultural shift had occurred, and stated, "Clearly the stigma of pregnancy is no longer there." Juilianna Stone spoke of Jamie Lynn Spears, the 16 year old star of Zoey 101 being pregnant, and said, "Younger celebrities doing very mature and adult-like things seem cool." Elise Gibbs made the comment that I made my point...she said, "I have friends who've said, 'Juno made me want to have a baby.' but it's joking. It's just joking." I wonder how often things said in jest are reflections of our true natures?
Kjirstin on Jan 25, 2008
My non-custodial stepdaughter is 17 years old and adores "Juno." She has seen it several times, including with her boyfriend. She told us (her father and me) that her mother didn't want her to see the movie out of concern about the focus on teen pregnancy. My stepdaughter is a sophmore and a little immature for her age; for instance, she's naive about relationships and consequences, is into pop culture about as much as the next teen, doesn't think it's cool for girls to appear intelligent, doesn't think about the future, and thinks it's normal for relationships with her teen friends to be fraught with extreme drama and hysterics like those on TV. Unfortunately, we don't see her nearly enough to counter this effectively, although we try at every opportunity to provide good role modeling and to expose her to different points of view and options. Since seeing the film, my stepdaughter has become obsessed with having a baby. She talks about it a lot, dreamily. She is powerfully attracted to the dramatics of the situation and how it would put her squarely at the center of attention, in an adult way, if she were to have a baby in high school. She would be a rebellious superstar with friends and strangers alike, just like Juno. I saw the movie yesterday and thought it was fine, mostly. Parts of it were funny and touching, definitely, but being fiction there were few repercussions for the bad decisions the characters made. I can see how, for some teenagers, it depicts having a baby at age 16 as smart, rebellious, cute, romantic, fun, relatively stress-free and important. Not to we adults, but to younger, immature minds. I think I get what the filmmakers were trying to do, but I don't think they considered how it would inspire some girls to replicate the scenario. With luck and intervention, my SD will outgrow this fantasy, I hope. The anti-choice aspect of the film was deeply troubling and was played for cheap and obvious laughs. And of course it never considered the impact of adoption on the child's life. As an adoptee, I found that part of the film predictably glossed over like the rest of the details. So yeah, I can see how teens, at least some of them, would see this situation as something to aspire to. Juno did seem to be of a different ilk than some pop stars who are pregnant in real life, like the aforementioned JL Spears ... but really, I think it's the flip side of the same coin. If Juno was so smart, why didn't she use birth control, for instance?
Sara on Jan 31, 2008
Hi, Sara, I wish you were her custodial parent, as you seem to know her well. Perhaps you will have enough of an impact to help her see reason until her brain kicks in...
Kjirstin on Jan 31, 2008
Hi my son and niece just went to the movie with my mother-in-law and they seemed confused with the options it did lead to an interesting talk after words. They seemed to think that the options were adoption or abortion. With my niece stating that she would prefer the later rather then getting fat and ugly only to give it away. They did not seem to grasp that maybe abstinence should be an option or even the thought of keeping the baby. My sister had a baby at 16 and a second at 17 ... these children are beautiful adults now. One of these children now has children of his own which I am glad to say was only when he was mature enough to handle the situation. I am glad that my children felt they could talk to me, but it did leave me worried for other kids who do not have the same family dynamics.
Jorgan on Feb 4, 2008
amazing movie . dose not take teeenage pregnacy lighly stop hating and watch the movie
christina on Feb 22, 2008
- Does Juno Take Teen Pregnancy Lightly? - YES.
nehemias on Apr 10, 2008
I KNOW! Isn't it terrible? Next thing you know they're going to make movies that take KILLING PEOPLE lightly! Dudes gettin' shot all over the place and women gettin' tortured and... ...oh, nevermind.
Breklor on Apr 20, 2008
I finally saw the film on an airplane when I got bumped up to First Class due to all the American Airlines passengers being stuffed onto Delta flights. 😉 Juno was engaging and saucy. I saw instantly why the girls with whom I deal on a regular basis have come to model her behavior. These girls, for the most part, are seeking attention and want to be treated like adults. In their minds, nothing could be more glamourous than having a baby. It's not a good thing when parents and children no longer connect. So many homes today have as many computers as people, and everyone is on their own, backs to each other, not even joining together for meals more than once a week. This is proving disastrous for children who learn everything from the Internet and movies, and don't even know their own parents political views. All I can say is, if you are a parent, unplug a few things and look your children in the eyes. Find out what they like to do, and connect with them before it's to late. Childhood is fleeting. Try reading to them out loud every night. Take turns. Even if you have lots of kids, it's something you can do together that isn't electronic. I recommend the FABLEHAVEN series. Book 3 comes out today, and it is a wonderful, multi-generational fantasy the whole family can enjoy together.
Kjirstin on Apr 21, 2008
sea komment #5 bi M. Johnson gr8 stuph
typer on May 26, 2008
Hi, I'm a fourteen year old who was doing a reasearch paper on teenage pregnancy and saw this thread. Maybe movies and things such as Juno plus not much care and love PLUS pressure from whoever the father is, caused a teenage girl to become pregnant. Sure, there are some girl that love to potray what they see on TV or movies, but, seriously? Maybe they should go watch some Evel Knievel or Survivor? TV is just entertainment! Outcomes in real life are so much different than what happens on television. Like, just take the Simpsons for example. If Homer were real, and he drank as much beer as he does, eat like he does, and work in a power plant, do you really think that he'd be alive much longer then a year? If a girl isn't smart enough to know that television isn't real and that whatever they were doing is what's "cool" or "in." Then... Then maybe having tons of sex, changing clothes to terrible music, saying stupid things and having a baby is cool. Then I don't want to be cool at all. Maybe when I'm married and have someone I love and that cares about me, who won't leave me. Then I'll be cool, sure. Shows like Secret Life of the American Teenager are shows I like. Secret Life shows that having a baby can be really hard, especially while you're in high school and working to graduate. I watch shows such as Family Guy, American Dad, Robot Chicken, and all kinds of perverted shows that my parents wouldn't be happy about. I'm still not pregnant. So, for some, it might the fact that it's on television. "Gasp, I could end up on TV if I could get pregnant." They even have a show for that now! It's called sixteen and pregnant, on MTV. Seriously? Music Television is making a show about pregnant teenagers? For others, it might be that they're to pressured. They just want to make their boyfriend at the time happy and to quit pestering. For some, they might choose to just not do anything. I loved Juno, but I think it showed the consequences of what can happen with some of the choices that you make. You have to pause and think about the worst consequence that could happen if you choose to have sex. And, mostly, it's worst then just having a baby.
Auti on Nov 13, 2009
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