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The Politics of Juno

September 7, 2010

Ellen Page brilliantly portrays Juno MacGuff, the title character, in a comedy drama where she confronts themes such as teen sexuality, teen pregnancy, abortion and adoption. As a Minnesota high school student, Juno becomes pregnant after having lost her virginity to, long time admirer and equally chaste, Bleeker, who is portrayed by Michael Cera. The story follows Juno as she explores her options as a teenager with an unexpected pregnancy. What follows was anything but black and white. At any age, when a woman is faced with such a situation, it is often difficult to decide what the “right” course of action should be. For a teenager, the process may be many times that. Often teenagers have enough to deal with, such as, peer pressure, studies and self discovery. There’s often little room to handle a situation that makes grown women squirm.

With all of the charm and wit of your average teenager coupled with an amazing support system of family and friends, Juno does just that. Critics of the film attempted on many occasions to assign this film into a genre fitting of their own political leanings, citing the many decisions Juno had to make as examples to further each of their campaigns. Nevertheless, the many shades of gray sends this film somewhere down the middle. Its approach attests to the complexities of real life situations and how things are never really without consequence.

The average conservative surely cheered as Juno, who after being harangued by a fundamentalist pro-lifer, burst out of an abortion clinic as she finally decides to go through with her pregnancy. For right wingers, this was but a platform with which to impress upon young teens the evils of abortion and the heroism of deciding to raise the child or to put the child up for adoption. Alternatively, the progressives must have been pleased that it was her intention to go to the clinic at all in a modern decision to exercise her reproductive rights. For liberals, it’s surely a coup just to have a film with such sensitive subjects debut in an American theater, at all.

I believe the writers of Juno did a wonderful job in bringing these important issues to the forefront of modern entertainment. Instead of leaning one way or another, politically, Juno coasted along every shade of gray in between in their, remarkably accurate, portrayal of the life of a teenage girl who is forced to grow up and make adult decisions.

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