Chicago Sun-Times
Tuning in with Thomas Conner

National Review's cowardly, blathering blowhard rambles on

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Here, in this post, in which he actually resorts to barbs about my weight and age (265 and 43, not that it matters in such high-minded discourse) while managing to convince me that he has not actually seen "Juno," or that if he did, he didn't pay any attention to it.

The reason I cited Patti Smith and the Stooges is that Juno cites those two acts in the film as among her very favorites, not because I am holding all modern music up against those touchstones in comparison. But I'll compare my vinyl, CD or MP3 collections with Mr. Williamson's any day, if he wants to talk about who listens to and likes more current sounds. And I will note again the incredible rupture between Juno liking those acts (and Mott the Hoople) on one hand and the Moldy Peaches and Antsy Pants on the other, while hating Sonic Youth and the Melvins in between. That aesthetic is as phony and contrived as Williamson's bluster.

As for the assertion that I don't understand this Interweb thing that Al Gore invented, well, excuse me: The NRO site is just badly designed, and when you read the media blog posts listed one after another, and the email contacts come up for some writers but not for Mr. Williamson, nowhere is it evident that that little button on the top of the page is your one chance to respond to him. Luckily, there are other forums to respond to a specious slur like "feminazi" -- they just happen to be on the Sun-Times' own badly designed forum, instead of the National Review's.

If "feminazi" is not right-wing bravado, I don't know what is. And because Williamson isn't a very good reader, I'll answer the question he poses -- "Why would a feminist hate Juno, a pro-choice movie?" -- one more time, in the simplest language I can muster: "Juno" is not a pro-choice movie. It is an anti-abortion movie masquerading as a pro-choice movie. And one with a lousy soundtrack at that.

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Jim, honey, isn't it possible you're laying too much at the feet of this movie? It's an anti-abortion movie? I disagree. It's a pregnant-teen movie. The filmmakers spent very little time explaining Juno's decision not to abort -- attributing it to a snotty receptionist and over-amped sound effects -- and the one anti-abortionist character in the film (the Asian girl) is presented as rather pathetic. If Juno really had an anti-choice agenda, much more time would have been devoted to the issue.

Instead, it seems clear to me that the filmmakers wanted to tell the story of a pregnant teen fond of acting way beyond her years. To do that, they had to dispense with the topic of abortion as quickly as possible.

I have no dog in this fight; however, regarding the issue of the email link on the National Review Media Blog, your excuse is pretty lame. You are an adult with a web presence, I find it hard to believe that you don't understand that a link entitled EMAIL is a link to email the author. If the link said something like "Smell This" or "Cubs Wins", I could understand your confusion; however, it doesn't.

As long as you are commenting on confusing web sites, try and tell me that isn't confusing.

Steve: If you're reading a post on NRO when it has just been posted (and it has its own page), yes, the email button makes sense. If, however, you are reading several of the media blog posts at one time on the general media blog page, you don't see that email button once you scroll down past the first post. Posts written by contributors other than Williamson have an email link with each contributors' name; Williamson's posts do not. This is a minor point, but I hope that NRO appreciates this valuable insight into Web design and accessibility.

For that matter, tell me what's wrong with I am a Web design idiot and novice, more or less. But I don't think it looks that bad! (Web design staff = me, though a buddy of mine originally set the whole thing up, five or six retoolings ago, in 2001, and a loyal interns updates it with new articles every week or so.)

Anyway, my email contact is pretty conspicuous there front and center. And it runs with every story I write for the Sun-Times. And then there's this blog. And if you do a Google search, there are 136,000 hits today on my name (many with my email address highlighted). And my direct number is easy to find; the Sun-Times, after all, is listed in the phone book and in a million other places.

National Review Online has this (hardly an illuminating invitation to contact them). And Mr. Williamson has his one little button.

Jim - please. Just admit you missed the link, don't try to make excuses. And then you assert that you're the better person because your CD & MP3 collection is better?


Better person? I would never say that.

Bigger person? Yes. Not because of my music collection (he raised that point when he accused me of being out of touch.) But because I would not print that Williamson is a Nazi (which he is not, though he had no trouble laying that label on me) without giving him a chance to respond. And because I remain willing to debate him, and he still hasn't taken me up on that or apologized for what remains one of the most offensive terms that anyone can ever throw at anyone else in a free and democratic society.

The business about the link is an absolute red herring: One writer called another writer an enemy of free expression (among many other things) in print (or online, same thing). And only one of those writers is willing to discuss that accusation or the issue that prompted it in an open forum.

Dude, if it is such a red herring, why are you spending so much time writing about it. Admit it, you goofed on that one.

Now don't go all victim on us, but calling someone a femanazi and a nazi are not the same thing. Really.

Jim... you nailed it. No self-respecting Stooges or Runaways fan is going to listen to that indie-folk crap.

Oh yeah. It's on. A trash talking battle between Big Jimmy D and that sucka NC (newspaper columnist) Williamson over at the national review. I just wish Jim would have taken a cheap shot like Williamson did and then this could really get entertaining.

Correction -- I meant to write: It's a sad day when the only female anti-hero the movies can come up with is a dummy who can't grab a handful of the abundant birth control all around her.

You really have to pretty naive not to realize Juno is a very manipulative anti-abortion movie. Anytime you combine unwanted teen pregnancy with a feisty heroine spouting witty remarks that delight a white middle class audience, you've got a situation that's highly suspect of message with a capital 'M.' Certainly Roger Ebert got suckered into its message, hook, line and sinker, declaring "Juno" his number one movie of the year.
What abortion and real life is all about is best seen in the Cannes winner "Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days" a film that's definitely too painful for the multiplex set.

Hey Jim, I saw you on Chicago Tonight talking about Juno. I take trailers pretty seriously, and all I saw was cutesy-poo, contrived dialogue delivered at a cutesy-poo, contrived Gilmore Girls pace, and that was enough for me. I was particularly embarrassed for that cool guy from The Closer (playing Juno's dad) that he would be part of this phoniness. Add the actual plotline and the pseudo-spontaneous facial twisting going on and it was enough to induce morning sickness.

I'm in my 50s (no kids) and feel no particular need to keep up with the latest in pop culture. I've taken a pass on Juno, as it appears to be very self-conscious, post-post modern dreck, just like I did on Knocked Up (for the same reason). Yet I have a close friend in her 50s with a teenage daughter who felt the need to see both these movies and enjoyed them, and another one in her 40s who took the teenage daughter of a friend and was raving on about how Juno was the GREATEST movie she's ever seen and I MUST see it.

Frankly, I'm finding myself questioning my taste in friends.
Anyway, just wanted to say it was refreshing to know there's still someone out there with an intact brain (that would be you), and a few of the less dupable critics on the Rotten Tomatoes site.
Keep on fighting the good fight!

It's a sad day when the only female anti-hero the movies can come up with is a dummy who can't grab a handful of the abundant birth control all around her.

dear fellow feminazi:
Juno is just one more of those oh so smart post modern movies which substitutes cool cynicism for reality. Ellen Page rips off grrr style but than sell them out by stomping on just everything else about their values .. or as my friend amy taubin wrote:

"why is unplanned pregnancy suddenly a surefire comedy plot hook, with points awarded to the female character quickest to dismiss abortion as an option? What would Ellen Willis have written about Knocked Up, Waitress and the loathsome Juno? Perhaps you need too have lived under a regime like Ceausescu's Romania, which criminalized abortion, to appreciate that the right of women to control their bodies is not a sitcom joke. Cristian Mungiu's unsentimental and unsparing film, 4 moths, 3 days and 2 days, is profoundly feminist. I can't imagine any current American filmmaker making abortion rights the centerpiece of a movie about responsibility, existential freedom, and the struggle." against authority of the state."

Hey Jim!
I'm so glad you hate this movie. It is nice to run across such a proper opinion, not to mention you.
Hope all is well.

"Calling someone a femanazi and a nazi are not the same thing..."

Got that right: I don't recall Gloria Steinem or Betty Friedan advocating the wholesale slaughter of Jews, gays and gypsies. Remember what a Nazi is.

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This page contains a single entry by Jim DeRogatis published on February 15, 2008 4:11 PM.

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