ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP)–Whenever my father witnessed an average athlete excelling in extraordinary fashion he was quick to quip, “Even a blind hog can sometimes find an acorn.” It seems these days that sightless swine aren’t exclusively roaming sports fields; they can also be found wandering the streets of Hollywood.
One example of a “blind hog” in Tinseltown is the recently released film “Juno.” Billed as a “comedy about life and the bumps along the way,” the movie contains an “acorn” of a message about responsibility.
Please understand that this column is in no way a recommendation or endorsement of “Juno,” which was released in theaters in early December. Although rated PG-13, the film is rife with offensive and objectionable material. The dialogue is peppered with profanity and course sexual innuendo. It definitely was not made with a conservative audience in mind.
The film deserves an “R” rating. That said, the audience “Juno” will attract desperately needs to be exposed to film’s underlying message about consequences and personal responsibility.
The movie opens with quirky, offbeat 16-year-old Juno MacGuff discovering she is pregnant. The father, who is marginalized during most of the film, is her good friend Paulie Bleeker.
Juno’s initial response to the reality she is pregnant is to abort the child. “I’d like to procure a hasty abortion,” she says when she calls to set up an appointment.
But as Juno heads for her appointment, she encounters a classmate who is the sole protestor outside the abortion clinic. Su Chin stands like a sentry and repeatedly calls out, “All babies want to get borned.”
After an awkward exchange, Juno presses on toward the clinic. Su Chin calls out that Juno’s baby already has a heartbeat and then adds, “And fingernails.” Juno pauses for a moment, looking at her fingers. “Fingernails, really,” she says.
Once in the clinic Juno has a change of heart. She bolts from the clinic and decides the best option is to have the baby and allow a loving family to adopt. When Juno tells her parents she is pregnant, she informs them of her decision, acknowledging that she is not mature enough to handle a baby. Her parents support her decision.
When Juno’s mother suggests abortion, Juno tells her that she has already rejected the idea and adds that the baby already has fingernails.
Following the advice of a friend, Juno scours an advertising tabloid called the “Penny Saver” for suitable parents, finds a seemingly perfect couple and establishes contact. After a meeting, Juno decides she has found the right couple and their lawyer draws up legal documents.
The remainder of the film moves quickly through Juno’s pregnancy. She visits the adopting couple periodically and provides updates on the development of the baby. Juno eventually gives birth, the baby is placed with the couple and life goes on.
It would be easy to point out all that is objectionable in “Juno,” and there is plenty -– sex is treated in a casual manner, pregnancy is presented as mere speed-bump on the road of life, and parental involvement in regard to initial decision-making is all but ignored.
However, underneath all that is wrong with “Juno” is a subtle but strong pro-life message of responsibility. Juno accepts responsibility for the life she is carrying that “already has fingernails.” She also makes a decision that is in the best interest of her unborn child -– to allow it to be raised by someone that is mature enough to provide a good home.
As previously stated, I am not recommending or endorsing “Juno.” However, I do hope the teens that see it will be impacted by the main character’s selfless sacrifice on behalf of her unborn child.
Movies aimed at teens tend to focus on being hip, irreverent or borderline pornographic. Most totally ignore the subject of responsibility. I am not sure if the filmmakers intended “Juno” to have such a thought-provoking message or if it is just the case of a “blind hog finding an acorn.” Whatever the case, the message of responsibility is present — and the majority of teens that will see “Juno” desperately need it.
Kelly Boggs, whose column appears each week in Baptist Press, is editor of the Baptist Message, the newspaper of the Louisiana Baptist Convention.