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Tuning in with Thomas Conner

And even a little bit more "Juno"

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Though I'm going to cut it off here. Seems like the pro and con have both had plenty of say by now. And a fine discussion it's been...

FROM WENDY RICHMAN:

Thank you, thank you, thank you, THANK YOU!!!! I couldn't agree more.

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FROM JEFF LIPSKY:

I couldn’t agree with you more. (Full disclosure: I am 54 years old and am not the father of a teenager.) I do have three quibbles with your article, though. One: what scene, line, or conversation in the movie gave you the impression that Juno was a virgin before her act of “premeditated” sex with Bleeker? If I’m correct, and Juno had been sexually active (sorry, Juno) before her seduction of her best friend, your point about birth control is even more valid, and more infuriating. Two: why didn’t you, or any fellow naysayer, bring up what is possibly the most troubling omission from this fairy tale about the joys of sixteen year olds being knocked up? I’m referring to the fact that while her father and stepmother don’t seem terribly traumatized by Juno’s irresponsibility no one, but no one, muses (or has mused) over what dear, little five-year-old Liberty Bell (Liberty Bell???) is thinking or feeling while her big sister’s stomach is swelling up for nine months. Three, the use of Cat Power’s cover of “Sea of Love” was much more apt in my movie “Flannel Pajamas” than it was in “Juno.” (Though we couldn’t afford to buy the rights, so it became nothing more than an editing room fantasy. But Asobi Seksu’s “Thursday” drives it all home over my end credits!)

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FROM MATTHEW NEWLIN:

Jim,

I just finished reading your quaint "review" of Juno. Decent material, if you had turned it in for an 11th grade journalism assignment. But, then again, you "talk to teens regularly," so maybe that was the intellectual level you were aiming for.

Here the thing about your scathing dissection of what, without question, is one of the most original and honest films to come out in years: your opinion doesn't matter! Your a music critic. You haven't the slightest idea of what you're talking about. (I write this e-mail just in case you have any future flights of fancy and try to pontificate on any other films that will release in the future.)

You seem to think Juno rings false because the dialogue is too cutesy and canned and that no teenager talks like that, and you're right. Teenagers talk in monosyllabic sentances for the most part, aren't experts on vintage culture, and have a harder time than all of us trying to express what they feel. The point of the movie is that this is how kids want to talk and act and be perceived as. Today's kids are more intellectually capable than any previous generation of carrying on in-depth debates because they can support their opinions because they have so much information at their fingertips. They just don't use it. Juno shows them what they would sound like if they did.

You might be right about the music that was chosen for the movie (you're the "expert"), but did you not listen to Nirvana when you were a kid, or Hendrix or The Doors? Those guys were all older than the people who listened to them and that's how it will always be. There aren't many 16-year old musicians putting out music with wide release, so who else do teens listen to if not people almost twice their age who have been sweating to get their music heard for a decade?

It's funny that you reference Roger Ebert in your article (by funny, I mean detrimental). Do you really want the reader to compare what you're saying to the Pulitzer Prize-winning critic who rated Juno as the best film of the year? It would seem to only exacerbate the point that you have no idea what you're talking about.

Well, I hope I've helped in some way to guide you away from giving any type of opinion on film in the future, at least in a medium where more than your family can read it.

Have a great rest of the week. I hope 2008 is a great year for music.

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FROM NICHOLAS SHORT:

Soooo, let me get this straight, ok?

You don't like Juno primarily because of its music, yes? Especially because the process of using a 21 year old actress, rather than a 35 - or 50 - year old music director, to help choose the music is not authentic? If you'll remember, "a patchwork of homemade sounds made by teenagers whose sense of humor and honesty rang through the crappy tape recorder they were using to capture their chicken-scratch lyrics" is quite reminiscent of bands They Might Be Giants, Camper Van Beethoven, or the umpteen billion garage rockers of the '60's.

And what the hell is with you crying about a teen girl's taste in music? There are entire sections of the music industry built on the fact that teenage girls enjoy music that almost no-one else does. New Kids on the Block? Backstreet Boys? This ringing any bells? You also fail to note the inclusion of the Kinks and the Velvet Underground on the soundtrack, two seminal groups closely associated with rebellion. Is it that these groups are too old for you to consider relevant to today's youthful rebellion? "Silly old Gen X'er --" don't you see how well all that don't be a sell-out/true-to-your-vision BS worked for everyone else? We can't all be Rolling Stone editors or Lester Bangs biographers.

I was born in the '80's, too old to call myself a kid anymore, but definitely young enough to tell you that you should cram that Gen-X sanctimoniousness up your tailpipe. There were once, and are now again, things like melody, playfulness (not drug-addled, nihilistic irony), and softness in music. I'm not saying some good drug-fueled, kill-em-all type fun is a bad thing, but it sure as hell isn't the only thing. As the person who pointed me at your article (he could have gone to high school with you) said, "Part of his problem is that he's not handling getting old very well. One of the most common symptoms of this is to dismiss artistic attempts of younger people and kids." Yup. I'm with him. I still know a number of people who this movie could claim to represent: high-schoolers, or those just out, and I gotta tell you, this soundtrack reflects their tastes way more than you or Bateman do.

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FROM REBECCA S.:

Thanks for your Juno article. I feel like I'm the only person in the
world that hated that movie.

Seriously, who the f--- talks like that?

Rebecca

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FROM MICHAEL SMITH:

Mr. DeRogatis,

First off, good luck with the upcoming teenage years of your daughter, as a High School (albeit Physics) teacher, and once Middle School teacher, I appreciate the worries you are in for, but also the proud moments that will come with it.

I read your article on Juno, and I would never normally respond to a criticism, whether I agreed or disagreed, it is your professional opinion; however, I will respond to your criticism of Kimya Dawson. I don’t expect the majority of people to be into The Moldy Peaches, or Kimya Dawson, and over the years, I was always surprised when I did come across pockets of students who even knew of them, let alone listened to them. Personally I have known about Kimya for about 6 or 7 years now, own some of her CDs, and have seen her perform twice. There is something about her songs that I enjoy, though I understand others not being into her at all, including you. With this in mind, I do take exception to one part of your article, when you refer to “Loose Lips” as glib insincerity.


Please take the time to go to this page

http://users.livejournal.com/kimya_dawson_/275949.html

Then go to page 5 and read.


I’m not calling Kimya a saint, but she is real, those lyrics are real. I know you have never met her, and you are only going on textual reference and your own view of the world. I also understand that your job is to look at things from a pop-music stand point, but sometimes a message that resonates with a small group of people is much greater than technical skill, or a tin-pan alley grandchild. So, attack the movie, attack Kimya’s songs from your musical perspective, but please do not misrepresent her intentions.

Thank you for taking the time to read this. I know it’s too late to change the article, or perhaps even your mind, but I do appreciate you listening to another perspective.

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FROM ROBERT FERRIGNO:


We can debate whether the message of "Juno" is anti-abortion and therefore anti-woman,

i agreed with you on the fake aspects of the movie up until this line. you went back for seconds on the kool-aid.

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FROM DAVID FABRICIUS:

You would have loved this movie if the girl had killed her baby, wouldn't you?

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FROM BRIAN WATSON:

Thank you for articulating my feelings on this movie!
What a wonderful review!

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FROM LIAM SELLERS:

While I obviously have a pro-Juno bias, to have found your review on the internet in the first place, I just thought I would let you know your review is pretty wrong - you say you know teenagers and they arent anything like this - you evidently just don't know the right teens. while I agree that noone i know talks like that - and probably noone in the world does, how could you talk like a movie script - but on the music part you are way wrong. all kinds of youth listen to that kind of music for real. myself included.

also, most kids rebellion these days doesnt go much further than dying their hair black and wearing pre-ripped clothes from american eagle.

sorry i cant give you more form to my argument, but i'm not sure i really have one.

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And, finally, this from the Brandon's Machine blog.

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TrackBack URL: http://blogs.suntimes.com/cgi-bin/mt-tb.cgi/6065

View image A teenage romantic fairy tale. I'm a little confused about precisely where we stand at this very moment in the "Juno" backlash cycle, but I predict the anti-backlash backlash will begin any moment now if it hasn't already.... Read More

5 Comments

You know what DAVID FABRICIUS? This movie would have been a lot better if she ate the baby. Then we would have something to talk about. With that alteration in the plot, this movie would have moved from being the overwritten junk that it is to a completely ludicrous piece of film making. It would have at the very least been more interesting that way.

Dear Mr. Derogatis,

Yesterday, my colleague gave me an article you wrote about the movie Juno to read, and I was surprised and taken back by your critique. Many of the points you made seemed removed; and at times, slightly unfair. I have been teaching high school for 10 years and wanted to comment on a few of your points:

*Use of dialog - Perhaps there are young adults who use dialog similar to Juno's. Diction is very versatile, and maybe students use those slang words in their everyday vocabulary. Many of my students comprehended what Juno was "saying", and have stated that there are several words adults may not understand when it comes to their everyday lingo.

*Intelligent students making "stupid" mistakes - I have run across several intelligent students who have fallen into the "invincible" category. It is very easy to lose sight of the two. Just because a young adult is "smarter" for his/her age...that does not mean that he/she has the mentality of an experienced adult.

*A clinic would not "be" like the clinic depicted in the film - Unless I was misinformed, I was under the impression that this film is fiction. There may not be a clinic exactly like the clinic portrayed in the film, but there may be a clinic that is similar.

*Music - I think what got my panties in a bunch the most was your comments about music. I have have been a music lover for as long as I can remember and have overlapped the punk/indie/alt. country genres for 15+ years. Even magazines like Magnet and Paste include these genres in their periodicals. It may have been a conscience choice of the writer/director to include "brighter" songs...it helps reflect the tone/voice/imagery of the movie. As for the lyrics...How many people actually "hear" the lyrics while watching the film? I know I never have.

I am aware that the majority will not take the time to analyze (as a piece of text) the movie, but it was such a refreshing movie to watch, both musically and rhetorically (even visually). I enjoy reading your column on a regular basis, but it seems to me that you have made just as may generalizations as the writer did. The one thing I have learned over the past 10 years as an educator is that each teenager is unique.

Sincerely,

Amanda Genge

I haven't seen the movie, but I did read your review/editorial. FYI, birth mothers don't "give up" babies for adoption; they "place" babies for adoption.

Again, just FYI.

Joe

On the web, I tried to find someone else who felt the same way I did about this horribly manipulative film
and I found your review. Thank you. My 21 yr old daughter and I absolutely hated this film and found many
falsehoods and omissions in this "feel good" movie of the year.

I begrudge Hollywood for using this film formula: Take a loser kid with no college plans/future, make her a
wisenheimer, compile some avant-garde music tracks, make a bad guy out of the ultrasound technician, and call it "Juno".
Reality was totally left out of this film and moviegoers and critics lapped it up.

As we watched this Diablo Cody contrivance, my daughter and I compiled these thoughts:
* Teens in high school go through social hell as it is. Imagine the additional hell if the teen was pregnant. Imagine that
this film didn't touch upon that.
* No teen boy in his right mind would bother with the girl he just impregnated, yet the film acts as though "life goes on"
and the two teens reconnect at the end. Yeah, right.
* What a bunch of unconnected and dim-witted parents for all parties! The boy's parents have no say in this matter?
Juno's parents & the boy's parents have no idea that their kids are sexually active and didn't chide them for not using birth control?
* Juno is a junior and doesn't talk about plans for college? Nah, she's too cool for that.
* They find an adoptive couple through Pennysaver and that couple just happens to live in a toney neighborhood with cash. Nice.
* Juno has zero maternalistic urges before and after. No postpartum blues, no longing for the baby, teens cuddle in bed at the hospital, etc.
* Juno has a best friend all throughout this affair. This friendship never waivers. Sure..right.

I know what this film could have used...more cow bell. No, this film could have used more Rain Wilson - raining more insults
upon Juno. Keep up the good work on NPR with Greg Kot.

Sincerely,
M. Serenda
Bloomingdale, IL

Just read your Juno piece. All's I got to say is:
"YO!".

Keep up the good work,

Adam Shea

"If we don't open the door, they'll know we know."

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on January 15, 2008 3:22 PM.

More "Juno" Fallout was the previous entry in this blog.

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