I never saw the movie, Juno, and likely never will. I understand it was well done, and uplifting, but I harbor reservations about it, based — unfairly, you may say — on reviews and press reports of the movie and its story line.
As I viewed it, from my remote seat, it was an underhanded argument against birth control and against sex education. The heroine is plucky, cute, sympathetic; she finds a perfect home for the child she is about to bear; has a healthy boy whom she delivers to the adoptive parents; and goes on to an otherwise happy life, possibly with the casual beau who helped start the whole thing.
The messages to teen-age girls:
- if you drink a lot, something awkward could happen;
- if you get too close to a boy before you marry him, something awkward could happen;
- if something awkward does happen, grin and bear it;
- if the awkwardness turns into a baby, you’ll be able to find someone else to raise it and you can walk away with no regrets.
The messages to parents of teen-agers:
- Awkward things do happen, but they can be handled with love and prosperous neighbors.
- No reason to complicate their lives with sex education and birth control.
A fews days ago, while driving the car in for a check-up, I noticed a young woman — a girl, really — about sixteen, walking toward a nearby shopping mall. She was slender, casually dressed, long auburn hair, little make up. She was, to judge by promotional posters for the movie, just as attractive as the actress who played Juno. The difference was, she was carrying a baby, perhaps a year old, carrying not as a big sister carries but as a mother carries.
Had her parents been as cool about the baby as Juno’s had? Was the baby’s father as cute, goofy, and supportive, as the boy in the movie? Had she tried to find a well-to-do childless couple willing — no, anxious — to take this awkward baby off her hands? If she had found such a couple, would she have dropped her child off — to a better future, perhaps — with no regrets?
I wanted to stop and talk to the girl, offer her a ride, say something encouraging or helpful or wise. But it is not a good idea for old men to stop their cars and talk to strange girls in the street, no matter the decency of their motives. And so I drove one way, and she walked the other.
I still can see her, in my mind’s eye, and I ask: Whose fault was it that, at ten in the morning, she was carrying a baby to the store rather than books to History class?