Not to beat a
dead horse pregnant girl, buuuut...
If you like Juno, do yourself a favor and avoid Christine Spines' Entertainment Weekly cover story "Inside Oscar's 100 Million Dollar Baby." If you have any sense, the article will make you hate the film (on the same note, if you already hate it, read up: catharsis is but words away). A big part of the problem is Spines' writing, which is mostly devoted to attempting to convince you of Juno's coolness (as though the movie didn't spend 96 minutes doing that itself!). Did you know, for example, that "the term 'fo' shizz' — an ironic-Ebonics version of 'for sure!'...is becoming a catchphrase"? And we have Juno to thank, instead of that obscure, irrelevant rapper Snoop Dogg who didn't directly help bring gangsta rap to Top 40 radio 15 years ago or anything.
And then there's Spines confusing-at-best method of asserting the character's importance to the medium of film: "Sure, Hollywood has occasionally served up edgy female outcasts, such as Winona Ryder in Heathers or the forlorn geek girls in Ghost World played by Scarlett Johansson and Thora Birch. But those characters were more weirdos than antiheroes. They were marginalized by their difference, whereas Juno is empowered by hers." I'm not even sure what that last sentence means, but I'm positive that to carry weight, it requires explanation. And anyway, aren't Ghost World's Enid and Rebecca empowered by being marginalized? Isn't a major theme in that movie how being an outcast gives you a great vantage point from which to view society? Ghost World is, after all, fundamentally a movie about the great American pastime that is shit-talking. I'm not sure how Heathers' Veronica isn't ultimately empowered either, since she escapes her clique without, you know, dying. In fact, I'd argue that what makes those teen-girl characters so awesome is their struggle with being marginalized and empowered. It's part of the whole process of uncertainty that defines the teenage years of so many people in this country. These characters are girls, not superheroes.
Juno, of course, is a superhero (either that, or she's Punky Brewster in an Empathy Belly...same thing?) and that's by design. The worst things about Spines' article aren't her impositions, but the quotes from those involved in the film. Look, I know Diablo Cody and Ellen Page and Jason Reitman and everyone else involved are experiencing a very exciting time. Juno is, with good reason, so important to them, and only a plastic Empathy Belly fetus could resist buying into his own hype at this point, but come on already. "I saw writing this screenplay as an opportunity to create an iconic female," says Cody, thus dismissing any claims that Juno somehow reflects reality. People aren't icons (unless they're, like, Madonna), and I can't help but read this cynically, as though notoriety was always the point for Cody ("HERE. IS. MY. MARK. ON. FILM."). I know so many people in the world are driven by fame, and while that doesn't made Cody a bad person (although in that dubious quest, badness so often comes as a result), it also doesn't make her this industry-shattering badass that I think a lot of people want her to be. The fact that her blog is mostly devoted to her media appearances is so telling -- she's as much wrapped up in this as her admirers and enablers. Again, it's understandable, but the more I read about and from her (including that Entertainment Weekly column she writes), the more I'm convinced that she's not the real deal, just the Hollywood version of it.
And that makes one of Ellen Page's quotes all the more ridiculous: "Sometimes, when you're playing the quirky girl, she becomes someone's idea of what a quirky girl looks like — a commercialized quirky girl. I'm glad a young, interesting, and different female character [like Juno] is out in the world and doing well at the box office." I'd love for her to explain how Juno is anything but a commercialized quirky girl. Last week, I spent time explaining why I think Juno is a fantasy, and it basically boils down to this: the movie is all answers, no anguish (and made even easier to swallow, thanks to that PG-13 rating). It's a vehicle of quirk and Juno is doing the peddling. I can't really think of any characters who are so dead set on the art of quippage, whose existence depends on their cleverness. For that, I think Juno is the picture of a commercialized quirky girl. Maybe Cody's right: she is an icon, after all.