Juno and MTV’s television show“16 and Pregnant” reflect very differently on the current surge of teenage pregnancy across the various cities of America. MTV has always had a cultural impact in the youth of the United States of America and the show ”16 and pregnant” continues the trend by normalizing and glorifying teen pregnancy. The show is about a group of teens who have recently given birth and are followed around by MTV’s cameras to watch their everyday lives. The show “educates” teens about being a teenage parent, while still being entertaining. But the media, making celebrities out of the teen moms, has made the show harmful to its core audience. But unlike any pregnant teen reality show now in 2007 director Jason Reitman brought the world “A comedy about growing up … And the bumps along the way” a film titled Juno.
This film reflects the changing gender issues and attitude towards the regard of teenage pregnancy. Since the release of the film there have been many reality tv shows that have dealt with the same subject but each in a completely different manner such examples are 2008 ABC Family’s “The Secret Life Of The American Teenager”, MTV’s Sixteen and Pregnant also that same year and “ Teen Mom” in 2010. The growing influence of many reality stars is not always a great thing, as proven by MTV’s extraordinary league of teen moms, who generate publicity that often glamorizes teenage pregnancy. Sadly, these stars sometimes have more money and fame and influence over teens than doctors, educators, businessmen and women.
Back in the day, it used to be shameful to become pregnant at such a young age. Teens didn’t even want people in their schools to know, let alone the entire country. Today, when a teen becomes pregnant, instead of running to her room to hide, she might run to cameras with hopes of becoming the next television star. if any kind of entertainment medium were to have shown teenage pregnancy in any kind of positive terms a couple years ago than it probably would have been banned or never have been made in the first place just like back when Juno was released in 2007 it was both a critical sensation but it was also highly scrutinize for the depiction of a pregnant teen. Juno tells the story of the titular character of the same name as she becomes pregnant after a sexual encounter with her friend Paulie. In the film the protagonist deals with her unplanned pregnancy with somewhat of a cheerful, sarcastic attitude, this shows something that would been frowned upon back in the day is now something that is seen as almost a ”normal” event even though it is not a regular everyday thing.
Throughout the story Juno has to make up her mind on whether she wants to keep the baby, have the baby and give it up for adoption or just have an abortion. At the end of the film the couple that Juno decides to give the baby to, Mark and Vanessa, end up divorcing. In the end Juno still gives the baby to Vanessa and by doing this in my opinion I think the film shows a change in gender roles.
Then there is the issue of how casual sex is depicted. At the beginning of the movie Juno and Paulie are not in any kind of formal relationship. While Juno and Paulie do engage in casual sex, Juno is never called an offensive name, nor does it ever mention that she has been with any other partners in the movie.
This depiction of a casual encounter is yet another example of changing gender roles and values within the depiction of teenage women in the media. If your aspirations are to become famous and make tons of money, know that it is sometimes easier to accomplish these days by appearing on reality shows. We live in a society that rewards people for knowing how to party hard, like the cast of “Jersey Shore,” date an athlete, like the women of VH1’s “Basketball Wives,” and even get pregnant in high school, like the now tabloid-famous reality stars of MTV’s “16 and Pregnant” and “Teen Mom.”
As a lot of us know by now, when a girl enters adolescence, she faces a series of loss and changes, the loss of self confidence and not to mention the body changes.
Juno depicts the transgressive sexual agency of a young girl without substantially disrupting longstanding discourses of femininity. So because of this I think writer Diablo Cody does an incredible job in the representation of Juno. The way Juno is portrayed as a female character that is not overtly sexualized starts with her basic appearance. Rather than a stereotypical depiction of the female body as a sexual object, sexual desire is visibly expressed and acted upon by the girl character. On the other hand MTV’s “Teen Mom” and “16 and Pregnant” have influenced American girls, spreading the message that it’s OK to get pregnant because MTV might fund it. (One “Teen Mom” star stated in court that she makes $140,000 per season, not including endorsements and appearances). The girls are plastered on the covers of magazines — sometimes in a positive light, sometimes in a negative light. Now on to the fact that Juno was the one to initiate the sexual intimacy between her and Paulie that challenges the traditional views of gender roles in the area of teenage sexuality. In the movie Juno, her teenage pregnancy is also being displayed in an almost positive way. In other media, pregnancy is displayed showing some kind of negative effect. The way media shows any kind of issue is usually a direct reflection of social values. Angela McRobbie addresses this issue in her book “Feminism and Youth Culture”.
“The diversification of forms of media and the sophisticated shake-ups of various categories of audience require that, while a consensual social morality might still be a political objective, the chances of it being delivered directly through the channels of the media are much less certain.” But the question still is does media influence the way we think regarding teenage pregnancy, or does it mean we’re re having a change of attitudes towards it? I believe that the media influences the way we think of any issue in this case teen pregnancy.
The authors of the article “Suddenly Teen Pregnancy is Cool?” suggest perhaps a little of both. While they do point out all the instances of teenage pregnancy in recent years of popular culture, Movies like Knocked Up and Waitress, and celebrity teen moms including Jamie Lynn Spears and Farrah Abraham , are part of a trend that’s sweeping teen culture along with it. The Film touches on several controversial, populist themes.
In Conclusion, Juno decides to avoid to stereotype traditional family roles and as she still gives her child to Vanessa, even though she and Mark are divorcing. It is not unusual to see a single working mother nowadays, especially more so now than lets say a couple decades ago. Even single working mothers are shown more frequently in the media such as in Gilmore Girls and the show Parenthood. Through the examples of traditional family roles being challenged by Juno still giving Vanessa her baby, a positive representation of unwanted teenage pregnancy, and showing casual sex between teenagers, it is clear that the release of Juno opens the doors for TV shows such as the one mention above and changes the dominant ideology reflecting the change in social attitudes regarding teenage pregnancy and gender roles. We just need to remember like Margaret Mead once said, “today our children are not brought up by parents, they are brought up by the mass media.”