Juno’s writer aims to bust shallow portrayal of teens
chris atchison/metro toronto
If the writer and star of the new film Juno could have one wish, it would be for their project to have a positive effect on the portrayal of teenagers in film and television.
“I think the popular media is extremely insulting and creates so many annoying, narrow-minded ideas,” Ellen Page, who plays the movie’s titular character, says.
Writer Diablo Cody adds: “There’s this stereotype of teenagers, particularly female teenagers, as being one-dimensional and shallow and not having much to contribute when in fact I’ve met a lot of teenagers who are very articulate and very idealistic. I think most films condescend to them. I wanted to write one that didn’t.”
Juno MacGuff is a quick-witted, extremely intelligent and quirky teenager who finds herself in a very adult predicament when she becomes pregnant unexpectedly after having sex with her friend Bleeker (Superbad’s Michael Cera).
She decides to put the baby up for adoption and finds a couple (Arrested Development’s Jason Bateman and The Kingdom’s Jennifer Garner) eager, but unable, to have children. Juno finds herself in an increasingly awkward relationship with the future parents of her child while still having to deal with the adult complications of pregnancy.
The 20-year-old Page is quick to point out strong female roles are few and far between in Hollywood.
So when she landed the lead in the Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking) directed film, the Halifax-raised actress was somewhat relieved to be portraying a young woman who didn’t conform to typical teen stereotypes.
“The media tells teenage girls and boys what is sexy, what you have to do to be sexy, what you should like, what you should listen to. If you listen to this, this is who you are.”
According to journalist and screenwriter Cody — who gained notoriety with the publication of her memoir Candy Girl: A Year In The Life Of An Unlikely Stripper in 2005, which detailed a year spent stripping in a raunchy Minneapolis club — at its heart, Juno is about kids who grow up too fast and adults who refuse to grow up.
“I definitely am an adult who’s in suspended animation,” she explains.
Juno is now in theatres.