Saturday, April 30, 2011

Diablo Cody and her Juno

Brook Busey also known as Diablo Cody (awesome pen name isn't it?) is an American screen writer mostly known for her very successful movie, Juno. One could say that Diablo's journey to becoming a screen writer has been more than unusual. Brook Busey journey to becoming a screen writer could have very well began with blogging. Keeping blogs allowed her to have a creative writing outlet which later turned into authoring a successful memoir. Her resume is graced by the experiance of working as a columnist for Entertainment Weekly, City Pages and Jane magazine. Her talent for creative writing was transformed into various blogs. These very same blogs led her to being signed with Gotham Books to publish Candy Girl: A Year in the Life of an Unlikely Stripper, a memoir based on her experiances as a full time stripper. Diablo is mostly known however for Juno and United States of Tara, a television series about a suburban wife with a disasociate disorder.

Diablo has admited that over the course of writing the script of Juno, she was covinced that it will never be produced into a movie. Perhaps being this cynical allowed her to trurly create an authentic story with characters almost plucked out of real life.
The movie presents the story of Juno MacGuff, a sixteen year old teenager who begifted with the surprise of an unplanned pregnancy. Juno is faced with the dilema of accepting the coming of her early adulthood by either keeping the pregnancy or getting an abortion. Facing this enormous presure of an adulthood and social pressure from her fellow teenagers, Juno contemplates getting the pregnancy aborted. However ultimately, she has a change of heart in the last minute and decides to keep the baby and later give it up for an adoption.
Diablo Cody drew inspiration from her own experiance as a high school student. She abased of the characters of juno in the image of her real high school firends. Diablo sought out stories of other adoption and birth parents. She also drew on experiances of adoptee children. She saw Juno as an extension of her. Jason Reitman beign the film director allowed a great level of input from Diablo. She was on the set day in and day out. Perhaps it was this colaboration and “micromanagment” from Diablo that made Juno such a great movie. (moviefone)
Juno debuted on the movie screens of America in 2007. It quickly became favoured by the movie critics left and right. It had a smashing financial success as well. Juno's success was clearly evidant by the multitude of nominations and awards being given out. Wheater it was the Academy Awards, the Globes or its British and Canadian counterparts, Juno performed greatly in each of these venues.

Bell Hooks in Reel to Reel: Race, Sex, and Class, asserts that “movies do not merely offer us the opportunity to reimagine the culture we most intimetly know on screen, they make culture,”(Hooks 9) perhaps that's exactly what happened with Juno. For decades, teenage centered movies about highschool life revolved around a class sturcutred society, where the Jocks and the cheerleaders dominated over the nerds, the goths, the geeks and every other sub class of high school society. These movies centered on the jocks and the cheerleders and their dilemas, all other groups were either used as a story fill ins. The rarely were the center of the story. Was this really the state of society in high schools throughout the US? Most likely not, but that's what was schowed down our throats. The magical stories of the jocks and the cheerleaders. Juno was successful because it was authentic by not telling a story of a WASP cheerleader impregnated by the captain of the football team. Following Juno' debut, I would argue that the industry of the teenage drama/comdy movies has shifted to telling of the stories of characters that vast majority of people in US can actually relate to. You know, not everybody was the head cheerleader or the football captain; to surprise fo the movie studios we were: math geeks, goths, skateboarder punks, the comic books nerds etc. Juno broke that mold in the mainstream movies in America.

When you watch these high school movies coming out today, they're portrayed as horndogs, as wolverines, as these desperate, horny, oily creatures. And the guys I knew weren't like that at all. They were just cowed by me.”
-Diablo Cody (moviefone)
Juno deviated from the common themes that are ever present in most the genre of “Pregnant teenager” movies. Juno was characterised as an independent, confident and intelligent ableit immuture girl. She was a normal teenage highschooler with an imperfect family (stepmother in the picture) and a host of other problems. The movie dealt with the themes of fatherhood and relationships at large.
In some ways, Juno is a femminist movie. It portrays the character of Juno as a strong, confident and independent female teenager who deals with the situation of her unplanned pregnancy all by herself. Juno doesn't allow any input from her partner in crime, Paulie, in regards with how to deal with the unplanned pregnancy. He is cast away as decision maker altogether. Vanessa and Mark, the future adoptive parents of Juno's baby eventually split up, thus invalidating the adoption contract with Juno. Mark seeing as he is not ready to be a father leaves Vanessa. Juno however isn't detered by this. She decides to still give up her baby for adoption to Vannessa if she is still in for it. (Schalafly)
The movie subtely suggests that the presence of a father is uneeded and not a hinderance to having kids anymore. It dethrones the male figurehead as the head of the family, much less a needed or /wanted/ component of the modern day American family unit.

“Changing how we see images is clearly one way to change the world”
-Bell Hooks (Hooks 6)

While perhaps Juno isn't trying to turn our world upside down, but it certainly breaks away from the mainstream to show an authentic slice out of the life of an American high school teenager. It subtely shows us that the traditional marriage/family never really was as prevelant as we were led to believe. Nothing is perfect, even those “imperfect families” ( Vanessa as a single mom) are fine and quite common in US. Juno was about portrayal of the “imperfections” and authenticism.


Hooks, Bell “Reel to Reel; Race, Class and Sex at the Movies”. 1996. Routledge. New York. NY

I edited the post to add quotes and sources.

1 comment:

  1. This is another movie that I loved but had no idea there was a female director behind it. I think this assignment has been wonderful in showcasing female directors and their projects.