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Obvious Child, Juno, and Choices

Here's Adam on a film that's been on everyone's lips lately and an earlier hit you all know (and love?) - Editor

Juno & Donna. A girl in trouble is a temporary thing.

Leaving the subway platform on my way back to my apartment in Brooklyn from seeing Obvious Child, the reductively coined “abortion rom-com”, a young woman stepped out of a bodega mere feet away from me and accidentally dropped a mason jar of grape jelly. As she pouted in disappointment while the chunky purple contents dribbled through the sidewalk grate into the netherworld of New York City’s sewer system, I flashed back to the scene in Juno when Ellen Page slurps down an entire gallon of Sunny D and to the vacuum sound during Donna's abortion. Aside from the indisputable narrative similarities between the two films which each revolve around awoman's unexpected pregnancy, both delve into the crucial period of self-identification and questioning of a person’s, and that of their unborn child’s, significance in the world.

That’s what plagues people of all ages, right? Leaving your mark. Having a legacy. Will a family unit be the missing variable to your fulfillment equation?

Donna and Juno each decide raising a child will hinder their own growth to becoming who they want to be. It would be easy for both to resign themselves from their dreams and aspirations, especially in Donna’s case of giving up her goal of being a stand up comedian. But they each choose themselves, in a moment of rational selfishness, to live their lives on their own terms.

Watching women make these choices is fascinating. You could even say it's revolutionary in our current context, given the amount of metaphoric uterus punching that's been dealt out between Juno’s (2007) and Obvious Child’s (2014) theatrical releases. From the Romney/Obama election through attacks on Planned Parenthood funding and attempts to amend state constitutions to ban abortion and this week's Supreme Court decision to strike down abortion clinic buffer zones, female agency has been continually under attack.

Neither film is presented as a cautionary tale. Donna and Juno are not meant to be negative examples of what happens when girls do what they should not do, sleeping with guys when they want to. Obvious Child and Juno don't tell women to not have sex. Juno is not shown deteriorating from guilt over abandoning her child, because, the child is not being discarded. Instead, a woman unable to biologically conceive a child of her own is given the opportunity to become a mother. Donna is not shown backing out of the abortion from shaming herself or contracting some life threatening infection from septic medical equipment. She follows through with the abortion and, surprise, aside from experiencing one of the often most traumatized events a woman can go through, all things considered, she feels fine.

I’m not saying that KY Commercial fireworks start exploding the minute the fetus is extracted. Just because Donna can joke about what she has endured doesn't mean that she lacks awareness of how serious her situation or decision is. Her humor is how she processes and understands what she has been though. Juno has a similar self-deprecating wit. It is who they are.

In the end, Juno gives birth and Donna’s body weighs a tad bit less. They move on. Abortions happen everyday, to women of all walks of life. Shit happens. That’s life. C’est-la-goddamn-fucking-vie.


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Reader Comments (5)

I don't know about donna but I love juno!

June 28, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterpoppy

Juno is SO great - plus it's a film that is just as good on repeat viewings. And it made me a lifelong fan of Ellen Page and Jennifer Gardner, they should have better careers.

Now Abortion is a tricky topic - and for something that is often seen as a black and white issue, I definitely see a lot of gray and can understand the passion on both sides. People tend to get stuck in their own narrow view and refuse to consider the merits of other arguments because of how they are presented.

June 28, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnonny

For me it's all about where to draw the line. For me getting abortion before the first trimester of the pregnancy is acceptable and if the foetus is older than that, then u should not abort it. But it's just my opinion anyway.

Back to the films, I'm really looking forward to watch Obvious Child. Juno has always been one of my favourite character, and the way she handles it I still think is the best possible outcome in her situation.

June 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commentertombeet

I haven't seen Obvious Child yet. LOVE Juno.

aside from experiencing one of the often most traumatized events a woman can go through

This is pure anti-choice propaganda. Extensive studies of women who have had abortions indicate that it is not deeply traumatizing. About 1/3 sexually active women will have one in their lifetimes, and we're not all the walking wounded.

July 1, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterDeborah Lipp

Deborah Lipp - excuse my poor choice or words. Clearly they were contradictory to the message of the film in which abortion is presented as a sometimes ordinary event in a woman's life. All that was meant by those words was that abortion has the potential to be traumatic and is often unfortunately shown that way in film, but what makes the film refreshing, and all the more truthful, is that it presents abortions as an unremarkable moment in this woman's life.

July 8, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAdam

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