Feature

Teen pregnancy at the movies

The critically acclaimed movie 'Juno'

What happenedThe movie Juno—about a 16-year-old named Juno MacGuff who gets pregnant—has piled up film festival awards and three Golden Globe nominations (Los Angeles Times, free registration), and its feel-good take on teen pregnancy, abortion, and family values has fueled fresh debate in the culture wars.

What the commentators saidBoy, are “pro-aborts” going to “hate” this movie, said Jill Stanek in WorldNetDaily. Juno undermines “almost all their talking points”—it portrays adoption as a “heroic option,” pro-life protesters as “geeky” but “nice,” and abortion clinics as “creepy.”

Arriving at the same time as the news of an “uptick” in the teen birthrate, said Ann Hulbert in Slate, the film was bound to inflame the “culture wars.” But neither side escapes un-mocked from this morality tale by “former-stripper-turned-screenwriter” Diablo Cody. The film’s charming eponymous star defuses “polarized positions on the hot-button issues,” and “takes idiosyncratic aim at everybody's pieties.”

The young heroine’s attitude hints at an explanation for rising teen pregnancy, said the Los Angeles Times’ Meghan Daum in the Chicago Tribune. “Juno may be bummed out by her situation, but she's certainly not mortified.” Maybe shame is effective birth control. Surely, there’s a middle ground between “shunning” pregnant teens and “becoming blase about them in the name of tolerance.”

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