Diablo Cody Meditates on ‘Juno’ and Its Critics 15 Years Later: “I Am Emphatically Pro-Choice”

Diablo Cody Meditates on ‘Juno’ and Its Critics 15 Years Later: “I Am Emphatically Pro-Choice”

Juno, An exclusive script by Diablo Cody, a then relatively unknown writer, quickly became a breakout hit of 2007, winning the Academy Award, BAFTA and Writers Guild of America Awards for Best Original Screenplay, as well as an Oscar nomination for the film and the then 20- Year-old Elliot Page, who played Titanic.

It’s been 15 years since the film was first released, but it revolves around a now-particularly poignant cross-section of culture and politics, as well as the morality of the Supreme Court’s recent decision, a part of the maestro. Is. Roe Vs Wade, Which ensured the right of a person giving birth to a pregnancy for 49 years or to terminate one through abortion.

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In Juno, The teenage protagonist navigates an unplanned pregnancy and considers the option of abortion, but ultimately decides to go full term and put her child up for adoption. Over the years, there have been vocal supporters and detractors of the film, who view the film differently based on its treatment of reproductive justice themes. Cody spoke in light of this Hollywood Reporter What his intentions were when he wrote the film more than 15 years ago, and it reflects how it stacks up in today’s high-stakes cultural context.

when you were writing the script for Juno, Do you remember how people were talking about abortion and abortion rights?

I wrote the film in 2005, which is 17 years back. The movie is officially older than the protagonist, which is crazy to think. When I look back at the time I wrote the script, I panic, because at that time I never felt that my reproductive rights could be in danger. If someone had told me at the time – as a carefree, petty, third-wave feminist – that in 2022, Roe vs. Wade On the contrary, I would have panicked and assumed we were headed for some kind of unimaginable dystopia, and I might have been right. But at the time, it seemed impossible. i took Roe deer Gave for, and many of us did. I was just making; I never intended to make any kind of political statement to the film. I can’t imagine being that innocent again.

what inspired you to tell the story of juno, a coming-of-age story where the protagonist’s growth is charted through the decision to nearly terminate an unplanned pregnancy, but then chooses to carry it to full term? Did you see it before, or did it feel like you were adding something new to the film landscape at the time?

I think the primary connection I was interested in exploring in the movie was the relationship between Juno [played by Elliot Page] and the characters of both adoptive parents, Jennifer Garner and Jason Bateman. I thought it sounded like a fascinating dynamic that I hadn’t seen displayed on screen before. In terms of pregnancy itself, I remember the kind of plotting [director] Jason Reitman described pregnancy as a “place” and I thought it was interesting. It was more of a setting.

The whole option aspect of it, as crazy as it sounds, was not something that weighed down on me. I just thought: How do I bring this character into the living room with this couple who wants to adopt their child? Because I wanted to write that scene. And so everything I did up to that point was in service of that story. I really wasn’t thinking of anything else. And to be honest, I thought I was writing a sample; I was trying to get my foot in the door in Hollywood. I didn’t feel like the script was going to be produced; I wrote this mostly when I was tempering on my lunch break in Eden Prairie, Minnesota. So I certainly wasn’t thinking of this impressive creation, which I’ll discuss 17 years later, that’s for sure.

How was your experience working on this film? Do you have any pushback in Hollywood, especially given the theme? Did anyone read this as potentially too polarizing or political?

Not at all, as it was a very low risk film. There was not much money at stake. And at the time, there was a real appetite for these quirky, indie films in the script market. it was the era little Miss Sunshine And Napoleon Dynamite, I don’t think there is such a movie juno There will be a theatrical release today. But even at that time people were taking chances on such stories. I don’t remember anyone worrying that it was provocative or anything like that.

juno It was a critical and commercial success at the box office, and sparked debate: some praised it as a feminist film, and others criticized it. It’s anti-choice. Did you know about the public dialogue surrounding the film in 2007? And in the years that followed, have you been involved in the discourse around abortion treatment?

I didn’t have a lot of clarity at the time as I was thrown into this stark reality of being a public figure overnight, which was not something I expected. It was honestly painful — and my head was so off my own ass — that I wasn’t super cognizant of any of the cultural dialogue surrounding the film. It’s so weird being just a writer and assuming you’re going to have that anonymity forever, and then they’re making fun of you saturday night live,

I have stayed out of the sermon. That whole experience, now ancient history, made me very protective of myself. I’ve actually been underground for a while – I don’t comment on my own movies very often – but I’m vehemently pro and have been my whole life. And it’s important for me to clarify that. But, you know, I can understand why people would misunderstand the film. Looking back at it, I can see how this could be regarded as anti-choice. And it scares me.

Back in 2008, I received a letter from some administrator of my Catholic high school thanking me for writing a film that was in line with the values ​​of the school. And I was like this: What have I done? As an artist my aim is to be a traitor to that culture, not to uplift it.

In Juno, 16-year-old high schooler Juno McGuff (Page) navigates the news of an unplanned pregnancy—and chooses the best course of action to proceed.  - credit: Fox Searchlight / Courtesy Everett Collection

In Juno, 16-year-old high schooler Juno McGuff (Page) navigates the news of an unplanned pregnancy—and chooses the best course of action to proceed. – credit: Fox Searchlight / Courtesy Everett Collection

Fox Searchlight / Courtesy Everett Collection

What challenges did you face while writing about unplanned pregnancy and adoption? Did you have to do some reporting to figure out how to make the story authentic?

I was writing completely from my gut at the time, which may be regrettable. I have kids now, and I’ve gone through some of those experiences, so I feel like I could probably bring a lot to a story like this. But I talked to some people.

Interestingly, the harshest criticism I’ve seen of Gen Z’s film on social media has nothing to do with the abortion story, it’s actually a very lively debate about the ethics of private adoption. . Most teen birthing guys don’t have a story like Juno, where they have lots of family support and, you know, Allison Janney. [Juno’s stepmother in the film] He has his back. They do not have the option of raising their child even if they want to, so many of them feel compelled. It’s a debate I’ve seen on TikTok, and I think it’s a very worthy conversation.

People sometimes cite the scene of Juno going to the clinic and the anti-abortion sign-out as an anti-choice because it helped change her decision to continue with the pregnancy and agree to a closed adoption. . But on the other hand, perhaps it can be read as realistic. Is there a part of the film that you would like to re-do or re-think?

Well here’s the thing, when I was a teenager, I was concerned about the physical reality of the abortion process. I thought it sounded scary, which isn’t surprising when you consider the fact that I was bombarded with bloody, deceptively high anti-abortion propaganda at school. And I think it’s reflected in the movie: She goes to the abortion clinic, she takes out the chickens (which is something I would have realistically done at that age, especially given all the religious trauma of the time). Seeing it). I am no longer afraid of abortion; I have one now. And it was a hell of a lot less scary than giving birth. But the film is a reflection of how I used to feel as a young woman.

I guess maybe I felt inspired to use pregnancy as a place, so to speak, because it’s just metamorphosis. It felt like an apt metaphor for coming of age, so I have no regrets writing the film. I think it’s important that I continue to articulate my feelings about it because the last thing I ever want is someone interpret the movie as anti-choice. This is my great paranoia.

I’ve never really thought about watching the movie again – it seems like something that should be preserved in amber. but i want this account out there [my] Silence is being misinterpreted.

Gender inclusive language has recently come to the fore in the abortion rights conversation, and it impressed me so much that Elliot Page played the pregnant hero. Juno. I think it has a really powerful connection to today’s discussions around weird visibility in the reproductive justice movement.

I am absolutely in favor of inclusive language. And I think it’s good to reconsider juno Through a queer lens, knowing now that the lead actor is a trans man. Obviously I didn’t know about it at the time. So I can’t take any credit for the original re-imagining of teen pregnancy. But I think it’s a good conversation. And I’m glad we have that representation, even retrospectively.

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