Saucers of Mud

December 26, 2007

Class in Juno

Filed under: Uncategorized — matt w @ 9:33 pm

The other day I saw and liked Juno. At the beginning I was a little put off by the slanginess, afraid that it would become a pointless quirkfest like Napoleon Dynamite, but it turned out to be really about something.

Others have commented on its handling of gender,* but what I really noticed was the handling of class. The differences between Juno and the suburban couple are obvious, but there’s also a much subtler difference between Juno and Bleeker; Bleeker’s friend has a cabin on the lake, and it’s taken for granted that Bleeker will go to college; you get the sense that that’s not so much the case for Juno. Which is part of why Bleeker’s mom hates her so much. The scene with Brenda and the ultrasound technician also has some subtle class gradations.

Subtle may be the key word here. Veronica Mars has been acclaimed for its treatment of class, but in the first four episodes (the only ones I’ve seen) it rather whangs you over the head with it. And the class divide pictured is much starker than in most of the U.S.; most communities aren’t made up of billionaires and their maids, if only because there aren’t that many billionaires. (Though VM may get a little more nuanced as it progresses; I didn’t read too closely in that article about the subsequent developments, for fear of spoilers. I already OH NOES discovered that Veronica’s dad is partly vindicated about Lily’s murder.)

Election was also pretty good on this; if only because the level of wealth depicted was more realistic. Chris Klein’s character is the rich kid of the town, and is in a house that seems about as opulent as that rich kid would have; but it often seems like the average house in a Hollywood movie is a lot more luxurious than that.

*But to those making invidious comparisons to Knocked Up, I say, nyah. [Mild spoilers follow.] Specifically, on the subject of the characters’ decisions not to have an abortion, I think Heigl’s decision is every bit as well motivated as Juno’s. Both are put off by the people advocating abortion — Juno freaks out in the clinic, and Heigl is horrified when her mother talks about someone who had an unwanted pregnancy “taken care of, and now she has a real baby.” Except, I think the lack of pressure on Juno to change her mind is a lot less realistic than the lack of pressure on Heigl. You can understand why people would just deal with Heigl’s decision to have the baby, but mightn’t Juno’s parents want her to think through things a little more?

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2 Comments »

  1. The class stuff with Bleeker is subtle, with the technician less so. That scene is more obviously about who has the right to look down on who. But you’re right, both are still more subtle than Veronica M.

    Comment by petronella — December 26, 2007 @ 10:38 pm

  2. My standards for subtlety may have been lowered by someone trying to convince me that “Redneck Woman” was closely observed.

    Comment by matt w — December 27, 2007 @ 11:28 am


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