Friday Jul 25 2008
Straight Talk: Panelists ponder teenage pregnancy
By: Lauren Forcella
Dear Straight Talk: I know of four different teenage girls right now who are in various stages of obvious pregnancy. None are married and all plan to give birth to the child. Do you think it’s the “Juno” effect? — A loyal reader From Farren, 20: Most intelligent, educated, mature teenagers take the movie for what it is and understand that getting pregnant and giving a child up for adoption is not as easy as it is portrayed in the movie “Juno.” Of course, teenagers who are insecure, immature, or have a weak sense of identity, may identify with the movie — especially because the main character is super intelligent, beautiful, trendy, and strong. I don’t think it’s so much the movie as the person watching the movie that determines its effect. From Bird, 17: The whole “Juno effect” thing is ridiculous. This movie hasn’t started anything. Teen pregnancy has been going on forever. I think when girls watch this movie they are in love with the characters, storyline, and soundtrack, not applying it to real life. From Nicole, 18: The movie “Juno” makes pregnancy a walk in the park. It is, in no way, realistic. Your friends are very brave to be going through with their pregnancies, but perhaps they are not thinking it through. From Peter, 21: When I was in high school, a few girls got pregnant and decided to follow through with the pregnancy — and that was three or four years ago. I also knew a few who got pregnant and decided not to. Ever since the movie came out, teen pregnancy has been highlighted as if it was something new, but it’s not. People are just paying more attention. I don’t think the movie makes it more acceptable to get pregnant, but I do think it makes it more appealing to see a pregnancy through. All movies are unrealistic, but “Juno” contains grains of truth such as: being pregnant and having a kid is not the end of the world (a depressingly prevalent train of thought); most parents will care about their daughter even if she gets pregnant; and anyone can get pregnant if you’re not careful — even smart, witty, popular kids. From Jennifer, 14: I think the movie’s effect depends on a girl’s personality. Timid or shy girls aren’t going to sleep with a guy just because they are bored, even after watching this movie. But sluttier girls use boys in different ways, and this movie might fit their lifestyle. I loved the movie. When I first saw it with friends, I wasn’t at all thinking about it. Then my mom suggested we watch it together, and the awkwardness of her sitting there made the ‘lights’ go on and I saw how shocking and unrealistic it was. I mean, Juno finds this really cool adoptive family almost effortlessly, her parents don’t get upset, it’s nothing to give up her child, and at school she’s like, okay everybody, deal with it. I could never do that! I would feel so embarrassed walking around school pregnant. Dear Loyal reader: Is there a ‘Juno’ effect? The answer is in the proverbial oven. When the timer goes off we can see whether teen birthrates rise following release of this movie — or not. All we know is that Juno was overwhelmingly popular and hardly a girl over 12 hasn’t seen it. It won the 2008 Academy Award for original screenplay, was nominated for best picture, and sold at Starbucks coffeehouses across the nation. All media undeniably soak into consciousness and have an effect. What a person “soaks up” depends on what values are already established and how awake that person is. Jennifer’s mother has the right idea. I advise all parents to invite their teenager, male or female, to an additional critical viewing. The more “lights” that go on, the better. Write to Straight Talk at www.StraightTalkForTeens.com or PO Box 963, Fair Oaks CA 95628.