Juno and Moral Arguments

And while we’re talking about Feminism:

Several years ago in December, Juno came out, and there was a smidgen of scandal in my household over a movie depicting teenage pregnancy. No self-respecting Crouch would be caught dead seeing that movie. But one night with all my family in town for the holidays, my cousins grew restless, and they convinced me and my brothers to go out that night and see the late showing of Juno. We told our parents as we were heading out the door we were going to see Charlie Wilson’s War or something like that, and cloaked in deceit, we went to watch that scandalous teenager-flick. To this day, my parents may think we were all avid Tom Hanks fans in the winter of 2007.

I remember exiting the theater late that night, deep in my winter coat, and having the singular impression that the movie was, above all things, “curious.” Long after the credits rolled and the lights came up, the film’s distinctive style and unique soundtrack refused to let me dismiss it, and as my cousins and I ran out to the car, decrying the icy winds, the movie lingered in my mind.

Even now, ten years removed, I continue to reflect on that film. Certainly now, the novelty of the movie has faded away, but still an aspect of it remains that keeps my interest. I couldn’t always tell you what it is that I think about, yet despite my inability to fully remember one shot or to quote a single verse, Juno and its characters remain an ever-present hue in my mind. This achievement, so mild—the persisting thoughts of one individual—is what makes for movies we as a culture lovingly deem “classics.”

And its that accomplishment that gives weight to the picture’s argument.

juno

Juno demonstrates perfectly how a movie should make its case. Movies are not meant for logical treatises—if they were, the Good Lord wouldn’t have invented PowerPoint. Instead, they offer anecdotes and character studies; where they lack in foolproof argumentation, movies make up in beauty, grandeur, truth, and perception. 

This is what Full Metal Jacket manages to do when it refrains from citing Mohandas Gandhi but instead depicts Joker executing a young, female sniper. This is what Munich manages to do when we watch our heroes commit murder. This is what Dead Man Walking manages to do, and what District 9 manages to do.

And this is precisely what Juno manages to do.

Juno delivers no diatribes on the ethics of abortion but instead invests time in the souls of its characters. By the end we understand the complex array of emotion and experience that plagues a pregnant teenager. And through that, Juno offers a clear lens into the dilemma of unplanned pregnancies and abortion.

While I think you would be hard pressed to label the 2007 movie as anything other than pro-choice—something I don’t prescribe to—Juno, more than any other film, manages to convey the blessing in keeping a child. It shows the pain, but it also shows the joy. It makes unforgettable that even when the mother cannot take care of her own child, there is hope and fulfillment in the preservation of life.

No pro-life movie has ever accomplished this, and that’s not to say they never will. But at the present time, no movie so tactfully deals with abortion as Juno.

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