Juno Essay

Juno Essay


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Juno Themes

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Teen Pregnancy

This film’s main theme is teen pregnancy. The title character, Juno, gets pregnant and must deal with it from the very beginning of the film. While the theme of teen pregnancy is usually dealt with moralistically and tragically, Juno portrays the experience straightforwardly; it is not uncomplicated, but it is also not damning or catastrophic, necessarily. Instead of glorifying or demonizing teen pregnancy, screenwriter Diablo Cody wrote a story about people who choose to endure through a difficult situation. While Juno approaches her plight rather glibly at the start, as the film progresses, her pregnancy makes her life more and more complicated, as she is socially ostracized and must navigate the personal problems of the adoptive parents.


When she first meets Mark and Vanessa, Juno wanders off with Mark into his den to examine his guitars, even though they are in the middle of a meeting with the lawyer who is handling the adoption. Then when Juno goes over to show Mark and Vanessa the ultrasound of their future child, Vanessa isn’t home, and Juno spends the afternoon listening to music and watching movies with Mark. Juno’s stepmom and Bleeker both comment on the odd intimacy of Juno’s relationship with Mark. Bleeker saying that it was weird for her to go there and Juno’s stepmom tells her that there are boundaries that you don’t cross when you’re married. Juno doesn’t see it this way and continues to go to hang out with Mark, even calling him to check in. While they each find an intimacy and closeness that they are looking for, Juno and Mark transgress some boundaries in one another’s lives that are better left uncrossed. This is because of their positions in one another’s lives—adoptive father and birth mother—their age difference, and the fact that Mark is married and Juno is single. Thus, a major theme of the film is boundaries, and the lines that ought not to be crossed.

Adult/Teenage Communication

A major theme in this film is how adults and teenagers communicate with each other. From the start we see an adult store clerk call Juno “Fertile Myrtle” as he knows she’s pregnant, which sets us up for the fact that often, adults are just as much of a mess as the teenagers they purport to be smarter than. There are many times when Juno is far wiser than the adult(s) she is speaking to, and other times when she’s out of her league in understanding what’s going on (as in the case of her crossing boundaries with Mark). When the ultrasound technician offhandedly comments on the fact that Juno is not ready to be a mother, Bren runs to Juno’s defense, urging the technician not to judge someone based solely on their age and experience when she knows nothing about Juno. This moment shows that adults and teenagers have different experience levels, but that age is not defining in terms of wisdom or ethics.

The film regularly flips between mature and immature modes of communication. When Juno tells Bleeker she loves him, they share a rather adult conversation, before Bleeker abruptly asks her if they can “make out now.” This shows two teenagers being very mature one moment, before reverting back to being teenagers again.


As much as Juno de-stigmatizes teen pregnancy, presenting it as a straightforward event rather than a terrifying cause for alarm, it also de-stigmatizes the process of adoption. As we watch Juno vet whether Vanessa and Mark are suitable parents for her unborn child, we effectively learn more about the process of choosing to adopt or give up a child for adoption. Juno approaches the process very straightforwardly; she knows she is not up to the task of raising a child, and so wants to give the child a good home with people who can look after it. Vanessa is so eager to be a mother that Juno is confident in her choice to make her the adoptive mother. While Vanessa may be uptight and type-A, in contrast to Juno’s more casual and snarky demeanor, she is surely going to be an excellent mother. The film shows that motherhood is not simply about biology but also about human behavior and the desire to mother. It shows that Vanessa qualifies to be the baby’s mother precisely because she wants to be and because Juno is willing to give her that role. This serves to demystify adoption for viewers who do not have firsthand experience with the process.


After she leaves Vanessa and Mark’s house in tears, Mark having told Vanessa that he doesn’t want to be together anymore, Juno goes home to her father and asks him to tell her some comforting things about love’s ability to endure. This also comes on the heels of the fact that Juno’s true love, Paulie Bleeker, has asked another girl to the prom. A child of divorce, Juno has a precarious and strained notion of romantic longevity, and vulnerably asks her father to convince her that lifelong love is possible. He tells her, “Look, in my opinion, the best thing you can do is find a person who loves you for exactly what you are. Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty, handsome, what have you, the right person is still going to think the sun shines out your ass. That’s the kind of person that’s worth sticking with.” The film defines love as the feelings shared between two people who have an unconditional admiration for one another, which makes Juno realize that she loves Paulie Bleeker. She sets to work to win him back, and they profess their love for one another on the track at school.

Being a Misfit

Even before she is pregnant and walking down the halls of her high school with a pregnant belly, Juno is a misfit at her school. In some ways, this makes her have a more straightforward and unbothered relationship to being the pregnant girl in her class, as she already knows what it’s like to feel different. Her difference is a point of pride for Juno, and she embraces her incompatibility with the mainstream with the relish of a high school punk. She listens to the Stooges and watches horror movies, loves playing in a band, and uses a hamburger phone. Indeed, even when she is bullied at school, she recognizes that the reasons she is ostracized are also the reasons she is special. When a jock insults her looks, she thinks to herself, “The funny thing is that Steve Rendazo secretly wants me. Jocks like him always want freaky girls. Girls with horn-rimmed glasses and vegan footwear and goth makeup. Girls who play the cello and wear Converse All-Stars and want to be children’s librarians when they grow up. Oh yeah, jocks eat that shit up.” Juno is proud of her quirkiness and her status as an outsider, because she realizes that this is what makes her special.

Home and Family

Juno comes from a non-traditional family. Her dad has remarried a woman that she doesn’t have much of a relationship with, her mother is on a reservation and never sees her, and she spends more time out of the house than in her room. When she meets Mark and Vanessa, she gets a glimpse of the ideal nuclear family, an attractive, affluent couple living in a large house with a lot of resources and a seemingly steady love life. Juno wants to give her child the stability that she didn’t have. This all comes crashing down, however, when Mark reveals that he doesn’t want a baby and that he’s fallen out of love with Vanessa. Vanessa is certainly heartbroken by this revelation, but it is Juno who takes it the hardest. She yells at Mark, “I want things to be perfect. I don’t want things to be shitty and broken like everyone else’s family!” Ultimately, Mark and Vanessa prove to be less than ideal, but in this dissolution, Juno realizes that the image of the perfect family is a mirage, and that she can still hand her child over to Vanessa, even though she will be raising the baby on her own. Family is a complicated organism, Juno learns, and it can’t just be cookie cutter perfect. A major part of Juno’s journey is her realization that the imperfect family can be perfect in its own way and that, as she narrates upon returning home that night, “I never realize how much I like being home unless I’ve been somewhere really different for awhile.” A major theme of the film is embracing one’s home and family, and finding ways not to take it for granted.

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Study Guide for Juno

Juno study guide contains a biography of Jason Reitman, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.

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Essays for Juno

Juno essays are academic essays for citation. These papers were written primarily by students and provide critical analysis of Juno by Jason Reitman.

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Juno Movie Analysis Essay


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Keywords: juno essay, juno movie review essay

Females have been stereotyped, from the prefect wife to the maid.. Whatever the role, television, film and popular magazines are full of images of women and girls who are typically white, desperately thin, with flawless skin. However, female stereotypes continue to thrive in the media we consume every day. In 2007, director Jason Reitman, brought fourth into the world "A comedy about growing up… And the bumps along the way." It started as an independent film phenomenon but soon grew into a motion picture that captured the hearts and minds of millions of people. The movie was entitled Juno. Juno reflects the changing gender issues and social attitudes regarding teenage pregnancy. Since the movie was release, there have been quite a few television shows with teen pregnancy as the main theme, namely ABC Family’s "The Secret Life of the American Teenager" in 2008 and MTV’s "Sixteen and Pregnant" in 2008 and "Teen Mom" in 2010. Twenty years ago, movies and TV shows showing teenage pregnancy in such a positive light would have been seen as some kind of dislike and probably never have aired. If the issues of teenage pregnancy were to have come up at all, it would have been seen with very negative connotations. Juno opens the doors for TV shows such as the one mention above and changes the dominant ideology reflecting the change in social attitudes regarding teenage pregnancy and gender roles.

Juno tells the story of teenager, Juno McGruff who becomes pregnant after a sexual encounter with her friend Paulie Bleeker. Upon making her mind either keep the baby, have the baby and give it up for adoption, or to have an abortion, Juno decides to have the baby and to give it up for adoption. The rest of the movie goes on to telling the story of Juno’s pregnancy, including telling her parents that she is pregnant, the process of selecting a family in which to give her child to, her changing relationship with Paulie, and her daily life and struggles as a pregnant high school student. In the end, the parents in which Juno decided to give her baby to, Mark and Vanessa, end up getting a divorce. Yet, Juno still decided to give her baby to Vanessa in the end. This is one of the biggest ways that I think Juno represents the changing gender roles. Aside from one minor meltdown toward the end of the movie, Juno seems to deal with her unplanned pregnancy in a somewhat cheerful, sarcastic manor. This shows that an unplanned pregnancy, something that would have been seen as almost unforgivable and an act that would ruin any young woman’s reputation, nowadays is seen as an almost "normal" event, even though it may not be the most common. This also shows the evolution of gender roles and values in modern cinema. Finally is the issue of how casual sex is depicted in the film. Juno and Paulie were not in any kind of formal relationship, at least, not at the beginning of the movie, when they had sex and Juno got pregnant. While Juno and Paulie do engage in casual sex, Juno is never called an offensive name, nor does it ever mention that she has been with any other partners in the movie. This depiction of a casual encounter is yet another example of changing gender roles and values within the depiction of teenage women in the media.

As most of us know by now, when a girl enters adolescence, she faces a series of loss and changes, the loss of self confidence and not to mention the body changes. As psychologist have pointed out in recent years, "adolescent girls in American are afflicted with a range of problem, including low self- esteem, eating disorders, binge drinking, date rape and other dating violence, teen pregnancy…(Gilligan)." Jessica L. speaks of the specific issues with the film in her paper, "Sexual Subjectivity: A Semiotic Analysis of Girlhood, Sex and Sexuality in the Film Juno". "While situating sexual desire, biological possibilities, and social responses to girls’ engagement in sexual intercourse at the center of its plot, Juno depicts the transgressive sexual agency of a young girl without substantially disrupting longstanding discourses of femininity. Though an analysis of the semiotics of girlhood within the film, [she] argue[s] that the girl figure in this representation signifies an [combination] of two traditionally [categorized] concepts of "femininity." Juno serves as a particularly intriguing example of the ways in which adolescent female sexuality is conceptualized within western culture during the early part of the 21st century (Willis)." In her paper, she goes on to commend Diablo Cody, writer of Juno for her representation of Juno, "in a visual era lacking widespread representations of strong youth female characters not sexually objectified or singularly defined by their interest in romance (Willis)." The way Juno is portrayed as a female character that is not overtly sexualized starts with her basic appearance. "Rather than a stereotypical depiction of the female body as a sexual object, sexual desire is visibly expressed and acted upon by the girl character (Willis)."

The fact that Juno was the one to initiate the sexual contact with Paulie challenges the traditional beliefs of gender roles in the area of teenage sexuality. In the movie Juno, teenage pregnancy is also being displayed in the almost positive way. In other media, pregnancy is displayed showing some kind of negative effect. The way media shows any kind of issue is usually a direct reflection of social values. Angela McRobbie addresses this issue in her book "Feminism and Youth Culture". "The diversification of forms of media and the sophisticated [shake-up] of various categories of audience require that, while a consensual social morality might still be a political objective, the chances of it being delivered directly through the channels of the media are much less certain (McRobbie)." But the question still remains, is media influencing the way we think regard teenage pregnancy, or is it a correct reflection of our changing attitudes? I believe that the media influences the way we think of any issue in this case teen pregnancy. The authors of the article "Suddenly Teen Pregnancy is Cool?" suggest perhaps a little of both. While they do point out all the instances of teenage pregnancy in recent years of popular culture, "Movies like Knocked Up and Waitress, and celebrity moms including Nicole Richie and Jessica Alba, are part of a trend that’s sweeping teen culture along with it: American Idol star Fantasia Barrino became a mom at 17, and the last season of Degressi: The Next Generation ended with Emma realizing that she might be pregnant. "The media is awash in it", says David Landry, senior research associate at the Guttmacher Institute in New York, a non-profit organization focused on sexual and reproductive health (Gulli)."

In Conclusion, Juno decides to avoid traditional family roles and still gives her child to Vanessa, even though she and Mark are divorcing. It is not unusual to see a single working mother nowadays, especially more so now than thirty years ago. Even single working mothers are shown more frequently in the media such as in Gilmore Girls and the new show Parenthood. Through the examples of traditional family roles being challenged by Juno still giving Vanessa her baby, a positive representation of unwanted teenage pregnancy, and showing casual sex between teenagers, it is clear that the release of Juno opens the doors for TV shows such as the one mention above and changes the dominant ideology reflecting the change in social attitudes regarding teenage pregnancy and gender roles. We just need to remember like Margaret Mead once said, "today our children are not brought up by parents, they are brought up by the mass media (mead)."

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