Not Your Mother’s Unplanned Pregnancy: Juno, Youth, Culture, and Sexuality

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How the quirky comedy serves as a telling generational survey.

Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody’s Juno is a reflection of contemporary American youth culture that became a divisive talking point for both liberals and conservatives in regards to its handling of one of the most hot-button political issues in our country: abortion.

**By the way, if you haven’t seen Juno, now’s your chance to click away, check it out, then come back. From here on in there be SPOILERS.**

The problem is, most of these pundits missed the point. Just because the titular character decides to give her unplanned baby up for adoption instead of aborting it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Juno the film is pro-life, or even pro-choice, for that matter. Instead, like the burgeoning adults it portrays, Juno is reflective of its culture’s non-partisan approach to issues of political, social, and personal importance, it is indicative of a generational shift in ideas about sexuality, family structures, and family planning from black-and-white to more flexible and freethinking shades of gray, and it is fluid – or mercurial – in its philosophies, which itself is reflective of the young mind, still forming its views based on both internal and external stimuli and pressures.

In this very insightful essay from Storytellers entitled “Juno: Youth, Culture, and Sexuality,” the above points and others are examined in terms of how they were accomplished and how they rippled into the greater culture upon Juno’s release.

Juno is too often dismissed as a quirky independent character-driven film peppered with colorful dialogue, a John Hughes flick for the post-Hughes generation. But great as John Hughes and his movies were, iconic even, Hughes never won an Oscar for Best Screenplay like Cody did, because Hughes never took it outside the conflict to the culture, his stories were intimate and personal, not social parables. Storytellers here has provided compelling proof that Juno is so much more than hamburger phones and hoodies, rather perhaps the most honest film about teenagers transitioning into adulthood of the new century.

Novelist, Screenwriter, Video Essayist