Tag Archive: Awful Characters We are Suppose To Like

As a full time student and constant seeker of summer jobs, I have been neglecting my blog for quite awhile. I will try to change this right now, starting with a short post following a tag which many a book vlogger and blogger are sharing at the moment. It was created by Thebookarcher; you can visit her YouTube page here. Despite blogging about a lot of movies, cartoons and occasional political comment, (and despite that I wasn´t tagged by anyone to do this) but having written many a book review, I was quite eager to consider and reflect on these questions. Hopefully those that started the tag will not find it remiss that I write these questions in this post.
The tag consists of nine questions which I will list one at a time and proceed to answer. Unfortunately I will have to mention a lot of Swedish authors at times, since, due to living in Stockholm, I am exposed to lots of Swedish literature. It is also crucial to remember that these are just my opinions, and everyone is free to enjoy which ever books they enjoy.
1. A popular book or series that you didn´t like:

There´s actually many best sellers I just didn´t like at all, so I will mention just a few that I really, really didn´t like at all: “The brief wondrous life of Oscar Wao” by Junot Diaz was boring, way too long and its main character – Oscar – was much too self-involved and reckless to be likeable. The narrator, and narrative voice, is a single tone of an obnoxious womanizer, and worst of all the political oppression that is present in the book (specifically, the atrocities committed by former Dominican Republic dictator Trujillo) takes a back seat so that men can either brag or complain about their sex lives. “Fight club” by Chuck Palahniuk was well-written, but the plot was ridiculous and the plot twist made no sense. “Allt” by Martina Lowden is an 800-page book where the author whines about bus stops, postmodernism and tends to lists of all the books she reads akin to a casual grocery shop list – really not my thing.

Other books far from my favor: “Svinalängorna” by Susanna Alakoski (a black-and-white portrayal of Sweden Finns, where this group is heavily demonized), “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe (found it impossible to care about the protagonist), “The Great Gatsby”, “Kalla det vad fan ni vill” by Marjane Bakhtiari, “My friend Percy´s magical shoes” by Ulf Stark, “It´s just a little AIDS” by Sara Graner (I didn´t find it funny), “Willful Disregard” by Lena Anderson (a novel about a older man, younger woman cis, straight, white-Swedish, economically stable couple in which the man emotionally abuses the woman. The book, in its unreflective stance to the abuse, misguidingly thinks it´s saying something profound about love. The novel also lacks any character growth) and “The Sorrows of Young Werther” by Goethe (lots of people find this book romantic; I found it creepy).

2. A popular book or series that everyone else seems to hate but you love:

Without a doubt, the novels of Nobel Prize winning Elfriede Jelinek for this one (maybe not popular, but most certainly infamous). She´s often accused of Misandry and writing grotesque pornography, but to be frank those accusations are entirely, and undoubtedly, unfair. Jelinek´s books tend towards the misanthropic if anything, but the misanthropy is not in vain. Jelinek´s prose is elegant, her sentences literary punches and the themes of her books are as relevant as they are universal: totalitarianism, fascism, and violence towards women to name a few. For a more in-depth view into my opinion on her work, go here.

3. A love-triangle where the main character ended up with the person you did NOT want them to end up with OR an OTP that you don´t like:

I will give one example from both of those questions. The love-triangle where the girl ended up with the wrong guy in my opinion is from Guus Kuijer´s children´s book series “Polleke”, about a young Dutch girl and her life. The books tackle and discuss subjects such as arrange marriages, racism, drug addiction, child abduction and First native rights. (Spoiler): the protagonist Polleke ends up with her classmate Mimoun who´s she´s dated since the first book. However Mimoun is not a very supportive or particularly nice boyfriend; he yells at Polleke for kissing him (she´s not allowed to because she´s a girl) and cheats on her with her best friend. To be fair he was a likeable boy in the series first book, but becomes quite unintentionally cruel as the series progress. Polleke flirts with a farm boy who lives near her farming grandparents, but I didn´t really care for him either. Honestly the love triangle should have perhaps ended with Polleke becoming single since both of her love interests were kind of useless characters. An OTP I didn´t like was Harry and Ginny from the “Harry Potter”-books, which was a very rushed romance with clumsy build up and had a lack of chemistry.

The covers for th

The covers for the “Polleke”-series

4. A Popular Genre you hardly reach for:

Fantasy, Detective novels, and Romance. Just don´t read much genre literature at all, really.

Dragons are awesome, however

Dragons are awesome, however

5. A popular or beloved character that you don´t like:

Fred and George from the “Harry Potter”-series. Out of all the colorful, imaginative characters I found these two to be extremely one-note, lazy (they don´t even try to get good grades!), bullish and slimy. They also are basically copies of one another; no distinctive trait that marks them from each other. Another beloved character I don´t care for is Puck from Shakespeare’s “A midsummer night’s dream” – all the messes could be avoided if it weren´t for him!

6. A popular writer that you just can´t get into:

Again, I have quite a few. I can´t really get into the Nobel Prize winning Japanese writer Yasunara Kawabata – he´s a fantastic writer no doubt, but his works don´t really ever seem to coalesce into a plot, making the narrative line meander about for no reason. The characters rarely do anything of importance and once more the reader can find no line of thinking for this emptiness. For some these absences don’t matter, but I am continually frustrated by the question of what do these lacks mean. Another writer I just couldn’t ever get into was Yoshimoto Banana. I read two of her books, “Kitchen” and “Hardboiled & Hard luck” which were dull. Her plots are all over the place. The books also contained a lot of Heteronormativity. For instance in “Kitchen” the romantic leads continually misgenders the hero´s transgender mum. As a final note, her writing might improve if she would use the “Show, don´t tell”-technique more in her books.


Per Nilsson, a Swedish young adult writer, also makes the list of writers I can´t quite stand; he romanticizes things such as stalking in his books, does a hand-wave towards anti-immigration and racism and honestly in my opinion doesn´t write women very well. With Nobel Prize winning writer Mo Yan, I also have issues with for his normalization of violence towards women and demonization of disabled people. In “Big breast and wide hips” the protagonist´s mother is repeatedly raped with it never really affecting her or the plot of the novel at all (in fact rape seems to be used just to victimize the mother). The writer Yiyun Li actually points out many of my issues with Mo Yan; go see a review where she points the problems out here. So yes, unfortunately Mr. Mo´s and Mr. Nilsson´s books are really not for me at all, to be honest I think there both pretty terrible writers.

I have this on my bookself, but I doubt it will ever be read...

I have this on my bookself, but I doubt it will ever be read…

7. A popular common trope that you´re tired of seeing:

My biggest complaint with books I dislike is often romanticized abuse. It´s exhausting to read books that have men who abuse women and children (and sometimes the protagonists male friends get into the abusive act as well) with the writers of these tales horrifically using the trope to either showcase their male protagonist as “real” tough men, or to position male possessiveness and entitlement as something to admire. Needless to say, I have no patience with such writing.

8. A popular series that you have no interest in reading:

Quite a few actually. The “Divergent” series isn´t appealing to me, mostly because of it seems oddly anti-intellectual. I never had any interest reading the “Twilight Saga” (“Twilight” is one of the few books I never finished). Same goes for the “Fifty Shades”-trilogy. I also have avoided Stieg Larssons “Millennium”-trilogy like the plague since the things it was praised for you can find a ton of in Japanese and Finnish fiction (that were published before Larsson´s books), as well as some blatant male fantasy stuff. I am also avoiding the “My struggle” book series because those books are way too long (I am a university student, and there is homework!) as well as the writer Karl Ove Knausgård coming off as fairly arrogant and obnoxious (this usually wouldn’t matter, but the books are about himself, and his “Fight”…. so). While not a series per se, I am also not interested in Harukumi Murasaki. None of the praise has gotten me curious, unfortunately.

Hoever, the english tranlations do have much more creative titles than the original titles

However, the english tranlations do have much more creative titles than the original titles

9. The saying goes that “The book is always better than the movie”. But which movie adaption did you prefer to the book?

“Carrie” directed by Brian De Palma. While the novel is very good, the movie was able to build up the suspense better.


Jennifer Egan is an American author who’s novel “A Visit From the Goon Squad” won the 2011 Pulitzer Prize for fiction and National Book Critics Circle Award for fiction. She’s also written numerous short fiction, many which have had their debuts in “The New York Times Magazine” which supplements a impressive literary career garnered about her since her debut novel, “Look at me” (2001). “The Keep” was her fourth novel and even if it is one of her more “lesser known novels” (i.e. remains in the shadow of “A Visit from the Goon Squad”) it was highly praised by critics upon its release. Before I review “The Keep”, it seems fair to point out that I haven’t read any of Ms. Egan’s other literary works. Therefore this review will only be a critique of “The Keep”, but not on Ms. Egan’s body of work as a whole. In fact, I plan on reading “A Visit from the Good Squad” when I get my hands on a copy.

“The Keep” contains two parallel stories. One tells the story of Danny who is desperate for a job. So he agrees to work on a project with his cousin, Howard. Despite his desperation, Danny finds Howard suspicious and feels awkward around him, due to a deadly prank Danny played on Howard when the two of them were children. At the same time we follow a prisoner named Ray, who attends a writing course run at the prison. He becomes fairly infatuated with the teacher, Holly, and makes it his mission to have the frail contact of holding her hand (as he puts it: “in here it’s as good as fucking her”). As the story unfolds we find out that the narrative about Danny and Howard is the story Ray is writing for the course in prison. The climax of this interwoven tale is us finding out that Ray worked alongside Howard and Danny, and killed Danny by shooting him.

As a whole novel, “The Keep” has an interesting concept. Unfortunately it is poorly paced; half of the novel is just Danny walking about the construction site of the hotel he and Howard are working on, whilst emptily fretting about his vacant life. In sum, vacuously fussing about an unfilled existence (no wonder it is a problem). The incident from both Howards and Danny’s childhood is only mentioned in the novels beginning and then forgotten till the very end of the novel. And even then it turns out that the incident didn’t really have any relevance to these character’s actions and conclusions in the middle of the novel.

Ray’s story is modestly better written than the other protagonists of this tale. However, the novel’s incurable flaw is not that it is dull and longer than it should have been, but resides within the clumsy and annoying ending.

The final chapter is told entirely from Holly’s point of view. In it, the reader learns that Holly has two daughters, a teenager named Meg and a small child named Gabby. She has been to rehab due to having a severe addiction to Crystal meth, as did her husband, Terry, the father of the two girls. Holly describes how she started taking drugs alongside her husband since she was “tired of being the cop” and wanted to have fun. This event occurred while she had two very young girls to look after. Instead of being the parent the girls could depend on, she decided to emotionally abandon them in the thick of addiction. It is of course true that Terry suspended his own responsibilities as a parent by becoming a drug addict but this addiction of the father rings hollow as a distraction point for Holly’s participation in the family trauma and neglect of the children . Simply put the reader is asked to deal lightly with the mother Holly’s embrace of the spiral of addiction and to feel no compunction to lay the life of the kids to one dysfunctional parent instead of two.

Jennifer Egan with “The Keep”

Holly lays out to the reader the path of her addiction, which cumulates at one point with a miscarriage, yet we never find Holly even lightly reflecting on how traumatizing the circle of addiction, indifference and abuse may have been for her children. Instead we are placed in a narration focusing only on the psychological wounds Holly supposedly has from her own bad decisions. The character of Holly lightly skips over the destruction’s of her interactions with the dependent and circles in a field of guilt only regarding herself.

In the final chapter of the novel, Holly is informed that Ray (who one will remember was in Holly’s Writing Course at the prison) has escaped. Holly hurries home to inform Meg and Gabby that they all will have to sleep in Meg’s room for the evening. Meg complains about the lack of privacy and confronts her mother with the statement lingering always about the addict: “as if you can protect us”. This commotion sends the younger child Gabby into despairing tears, wherein Holly snaps at her daughter: “Look what you’ve done, you little bitch!”. Though we are told that Holly hates herself for saying such a thing to her daughter, the actuality, as always, is that this is an internal whimper (she thinks it, not says it) of the character whose very presence means rejecting any external apology or self-judgments when there are others who should “take the blame”. Served as well in this small set-scene, though Holly calls her teenage daughter by sexist terms reserved for the most mean-spirited and mad amongst us, the author actually serves up Holly as failing to see that her daughter’s comment is not entirely unjustifiable.

The mother has been an addict, and shown as not able, nor caring, for her children. And for this Meg’s anger isn’t without reason. That her mother then calls her by emotionally abusive, and sexually charged, names shows Holly has no real interest to face the trauma she has caused. To make matters worse, she complains about Meg not being sweet anymore and therefore likes Gabby better. At this point it is clear that Holly only sees her time as an out-of-control addict as something that has only been traumatic to her, not her children. Meg’s lack of sweetness seems to be a form of protecting herself. She has after all been clearly betrayed by both her parents. Holly ignores the fact that Meg perhaps has a reason to not trust her or have the energy to be kind. Holly comes off as a fairly self-centered parent. Her only saving quality as a parent is that she at least is clean of her drug dependency; even if Terry isn’t and has completely abandoned his children.

Unfortunately, Holly’s saving grace trait is ultimately lost in the narrative of the book when she gets a written script from Ray for the writer’s course she was giving at the prison. She reads it and remembers a conversation she had with Ray. Ray had told her he would send her the script he was working on, so that she could write a novel out of it. She says she can’t write, but he argues against it. Holly then remembers how she felt a connection to Ray after she lectured him about the first story he wrote for the class and during this exchange he engages her with a gaze. The narrative has this revelation pivot on the writing possibilities coming not from Ray beginning to write better texts for the class, mind you, but because he looked at her when she spoke.

After this odd memory, Holly is summoned to the police station since Chrystal meth is discovered in Holly’s household. Holly insists it is her husband’s Terry’s and the charges against her are suspended. After this Holly immediately decides to go looking for the convicted murderer Ray who is now free after his escape and living in Europe. Leaving her kids in the care of her mother Holly leaves for the Continent in a quest to reconnect with Ray. How we as readers are to bond with the evaded narrative justification of Holly seeking out, for her own development, the killer Ray on the immediate trauma of the drug bust on the children is left hanging and deferred in the tale. The confusion is heightened to the reader of this novel as we as now told that Holly has been sent Rays Story which is a recounting of the murder he has committed. Holly is confronted in the text with Ray stating in the story, and therefore to Holly, that he had no reason for the killing. His murder was empty and without reason. We find Holly as empty to the consequences of this statement as Ray is to the killing he performed. The Reader of Egan’s novel is confronted with the obvious: Ray is a highly dangerous and emotionally dead sociopath. Yet the narrative serves us up Holly who’s reactions and actions place Ray as a person who one, after all of the abandonment she has placed on those around her, is worth leaving her children for (even in the most emotionally stressful time).

Though the novel has Meg illustrated as flatly begging her mother to come back – we are positioned with Holly in this novel who bypasses this request all in favor of her “inner discovery” and still refuses (as does the novel) to think about the pain her daughter’s going through. “The Keep” ends with Holly arriving to the hotel Danny (the man Ray killed) and Howard worked on. She cries because she realizes she’ll never see Ray again and hangs around the hotel.
Intermixed with the slew of problems Egan’s” the Keep” entails we also find that the stance of the story wants us to sympathize with Ray and while we barely get to know him what is revealed in the text about his character is more disquieting than interesting. He comes off as perilous in the novel’s reveal, which makes Holly’s romantic interest in him seem obsessive, unhealthy and ultimately egocentric.

At last how can we not find Holly as the penultimate awful and emotionally abusive parent, which the narration of the novel gleefully glamorizes? This leads to the novel’s heart coming off as creepy and disturbing. Egan asks us to sympathize with characters that definitely don’t deserve the reader’s sympathy. No tragic events or psychological explanations are given to Ray to make his actions more human. No signs of self-reflection are given to Holly. So no sympathy can be given to the characters.

As a last note, it is worth saying that when done correctly, great literature has been done about prisoners. For example and as a recommendation, Tennessee Williams wrote a play about prisoners and their rights in his play “Not about Nightingales”.

Dr. Seuss is one of the most loved and known of very young children’s books writers and a major influence on our modern popular culture. Dr. Seuss’s most famous works include “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, “Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham”. His novels are age-related and logically quite short with very simple story lines, thus the first adaption’s of his books were half- hour long cartoons*. Unfortunately, in 2000, Ron Howard directed a live- action version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, which featured Jim Carrey as the Grinch (being as annoying as possible). The film was a success, and so began the phenomena of live- action adaption’s of Dr. Seuss’ work. One of the most horribly failed adaption’s is the live- action version of “Cat in the Hat” (2003), mostly because, despite its similar title and premise, the movie has nothing to do with the book it is apparently “based on”.

“Cat in the Hat” centers on the children pair of 12- year old Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and his younger sister Sally (Dakota Fanning). Conrad is shown being the out-of-control trouble maker while Sally is cast as the obsessive control freak. The film makes the children, despite their tender ages, caricatures of gender stereotypes: the wild male and the uptight female, a depiction of gender which cast women as killjoys and men as free and fun-loving, even if the behavior causes problems for those around them. The film depicts Conrad’s behavior, regardless of it being beyond the pale of mere trouble making and inflicting severe difficulty upon those around him (especially his single caretaking mother), the viewer is suppose to sympathize with Conrad more than with Sally who’s worst crimes is only that she alienates others.

The children’s Mother is a working woman whose boss wants to have an office party at her house. On the day when the planned party is meant to take place, the mother is pressured to leave for her work, and is forced to beg the kids to take care of the house to insure a “clean” party (Her boss is evilly phobic about the “clean”). She hires Ms. Kwan, an Asian woman, to babysit the kids. Since Ms. Kwan’s foreign, the film decides to make her watch a TV broadcast where her home country (Taiwan) is portrayed as being filled with people who even in parliament debates punch each other instead of having discussions. She then also falls asleep while she’s supposed to be babysitting the kids. The way Ms. Kwan is written weaves a subtle implication of the non-white as lazy and irresponsible, and (somewhat in contradiction) explosively and unexplainably violent – or as the tone of the film seems to suggest: “It’s never too early to teach kids to be prejudice against others!”.

As the kids stare miserably out of the window of their house, seemingly capture inside and the boredom entailed, they hear a bump upstairs. The bump turns out to be caused by a big black-and-white talking cat with a Tall stripped hat. This turns out to be the said Cat in the hat (Mike Meyers) and this is where the film truly begins its downhill journey.

The cat acts nothing like the original cat from Dr. Seuss’ book. While the Cat in the original book did cause some trouble, this cat constantly makes sexual innuendos and threats of violence. He is far less caring of the kids than his original counterpart. The original cat could cause messes, yet all the while sincerely wanting the children to break their boredom and enjoy his games. In the end (and this is also implied with the gentleness of the original) the Cat will back off when the kids show he’s crossed the line and in the end rectify unconditionally any damage his actions have created (in the movie the conditions are Actually A Contract!). Mike Meyer’s cat, on the other hand, puts children into danger, constantly threatens violence for the slightest inconvenience, is impregnated with the insipid gestures of the most cliques vaudeville actor (and seems to be channeling a bad cowardly lion impression for some reason), is fond of insulting others and is a threat to those around him. In short, Meyer’s Cat would seem to be the antithetical other to Dr. Seuss’ original character.

The introduction of the Cat begins with him storming into the apartment, answering the children’s question of why he has appeared with “well when a mommy cat and daddy cat love each other very much…”. After that, he proceeds to make innuendos while seeing a picture of the children’s mother, beats up an elephant (which just randomly pops up), cuts off his own tail, and threatens to kill several people on several occasions, including nearly hitting a kid in the back of the head with a baseball bat. In the midst of the film, when the children try to catch their runaway dog, the children lay out two options of what to do. The Cat responds to their plans, stating: “There’s also a third option. It involves… Murder!”. For those who are particularly attached to Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat”, seeing Meyer’s Cat state murder as a answer to a problem is the equivalent of finding Winnie the Pooh rambling on about the possibilities which lie in bank robberies – a terrifying and repugnant scene to witness, while leaving the nostalgic audience feeling dirty and betrayed.

The problem is not that the film uses violence and suggestive humor, but that the film on a whole doesn’t consist of any other kind of humor, except for the occasional scatological joke. The film doesn’t seem to understand whether the film is made for adults, or for children, or for neither (If you chose the last option, congratulations! You guessed right!).

As for the violent attitude of the cat, most of these scenes seem to exist for the sake of “Dead Baby Comedy”. The internet critic Kyle “Oancitizen” Kallgren has stated that “Dead Baby Comedy” is a branch of humor which is design to push the audience into the corner of shock and offense. Naturally, when done well, “Dead Baby Comedy” can be used to make people reflect and re-think on society’s taboos. However when this branch of comedy is done wrong, it only leads to as Mr. Kallgren puts it: “You end up laughing at it, because what else can you do?”. The “Dead Baby Comedy” used in “Cat in The Hat” consists of the latter kind, where the viewer is put into a position where the only way to respond to the excruciating violent tone of the film is to laugh. Not because the jokes are funny or thought-provoking, but because they are straight out offensive and frightening.

An essential flaw of “Cat in the Hat” is also how many prejudices are enforced through the films story-telling. As mentioned before the babysitter Ms. Kwan has fallen asleep. While sleeping, she is constantly tormented by the Cat and his minions. She’s thrown around, used as a mop and even used as a boat near the end of the film. Ms. Kwan has no agency, no active role or even speech, and is only there to be used and cast aside and in worst causes physically abused while unconscious, by all of the other characters that are white or a talking animal. Since Ms. Kwan is the only non-white character in the film, the treatment of her character is fairly uncomfortable and it boggles the mind why the filmmakers would portray Ms. Kwan in such a light.

It is also worth mentioning that one of the primary villains, the mother’s mean-spirited boyfriend Quinn (Alec Baldwin), is at one point shown to be a closet over-weight person. Ms. Kwan is also overweight. Since the only plus size people in “Cat in the Hat” are portrayed negatively, this leads to a strong fat phobic feel to the film.

Add on to the uncomfortable feeling about other ethnicities, the strange repulsion to the overweight and the films narrow depictions of women and we’ve got a film full of violence, sexism, racism and sizeism. One which in the end seems to be aimed at children.

“Cat in the Hat” is one of the worst film adoptions from a book. Not only does the film have nothing in common with the book its “based on”, but the film just doesn’t work in any way. It can’t even decide who’s its audience and, in the end, can’t really entertain anyone.


*The 1966 Chuck Jones animated Version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, though diverging from the original text in a number of places, and having a musical score included, is considered a Classic of the Seuss genre and of the Jones animation style in general.

“Juno” (2007) is a movie directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay”. Since its release “Juno” has been well loved both by critics as well as by audiences. “Juno” has been seen as a witty comedy with a great female lead. However, despite the universal love this film has received, I didn’t enjoy “Juno” at all while watching it. The movie just seemed repulsive and creepy, instead of being charmingly witty. In this post, I will explain why. As a warning, it should be pointed out that this post will include spoilers.

Director Jason Reitman

The films protagonist is the sixteen year old Juno (Ellen Page), who has become pregnant after having unprotected sex (of course) with her best friend, Paulie. She first decides to abort the child, only to reconsider this option and choose, instead, to give up the baby for adoption. After some searching, she finds the upscale yuppie couple Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), to whom she decides to give the baby up to when the time comes. The viewers of this film follow of the life of the expecting Juno in High School and at home.

The troubling nature of “Juno” is not the idea and plot point of unplanned pregnancy or adoption, but rather how these subjects are depicted. On top of the problems with the portrayal of the unwanted pregnancy, Juno as a protagonist isn’t a particularly likeable character (or at least to me and my inclinations she is not). Juno’s normal operating social sense seems to hover in the area of the quintessentially arrogant and emotionally distant, and throughout the entirety of the film we witness Juno endlessly looking down upon everyone unlucky enough to find themselves in her proximity, hiding behind an irritating sarcastic attitude, and engaged in a unremitting (and supposedly) hipster banter. Amazingly Paulie, the best friend and coordinated parent, is the main focus of this bad behavior (a verbal abuse which persistently puts him down and always in the midst of the public gaze) and is in generally so poorly treated by Juno that the claim of a strong friendship between these two would seem to be more than highly improbable. A primary example is illustrated in a scene between these two where an argument is taking place and we find the always “funny” Juno loudly yelling out in the public arena of the High School (Gymnasium for the European readers): “I took your virginity!”. If “Juno” would have at any point been realistic, the film would have depicted the awful and large amount of bullying Paulie would have been subjected to after this dreadful and malicious outburst of Juno.

Before the above scene of this public humiliation and question of virginity, we find the socially questionable Juno insisting to the much put upon Paulie that he should begin to hang out with other girls, regardless for his attachment or fondness for them. Yet by the end of the film, we find the subtly (which those who use the verbal) abusive Juno suddenly declaring her love for Paulie and the two end up dating. Considering how Juno, nearly for the entire film, verbally ill-treated Paulie, it’s hard to believe that the two of them could ever become a happy, healthy couple.

Juno as a character is suppose to be comedic and funny, but not once did I laugh at her witticism and verbal play which, instead of enlightening and exploring, wallows in the realm of overt narcissism and oblivious snobbishness. In fact, Juno’s personality cannot help but remind the audience of the persona of the penultimate bully, which makes it impossible to sympathize with her as a leading character.

However, the movies major flaw is the outrageously backwards depiction of the environment and servers working within Women’s Health Care Clinic’s (Translation for the movie is: Abortion clinic). Juno, after learning she’s pregnant, heads off to get an abortion. When arriving at the clinic, she meets a classmate outside of the clinic protesting and chanting: “All babies want to be born!”. One can wonder if the writer purposefully gave the protesting girl a nonsensical slogan, due to the fact that abortions are performed on fetuses that haven’t yet developed self-consciousness and therefore cannot want anything. However the audience is actually expected to sympathize with the protesting girl, as it turns out when she tells Juno that her baby by now has developed “finger nails” in hopes of getting Juno to change her mind, a statement the film regards as words of wisdom. The information of the now existing fingernails does in fact make Juno reconsider her decision.

The way the movie “Juno” deals with anti-abortion protesters is, to say the least, simplistic and simple-minded. Having only one protestor at the clinic having a “peaceful” conversation with Juno is fairly far off of the actual practice of the anti abortion protesters who operate in the horrendous realm of heckling and harassing of the women who find themselves in need of the services of a abortion clinic. If the film would have bothered to be more realistic, Juno’s classmate would have been accompanied by an unseemly horde of hostile campaigners blaring: “Murderer! Murderer! You’re killing your baby!” while using physical proximity to intimidate the already emotionally frail seekers of the service.

When Juno gets into the clinic, she at once is handed papers to fill-out by the clinics clerk. At the same instance Juno is also handed a condom by the clerk, hoping to encourage the use of the condom (Juno is there for an unwanted pregnancy!), notes that the condom leaves a nice smell after sex, something the clerk indicates that she knows from using the same brand herself. On receiving the condom from the clerk Juno dons a look of disgust to her face, indicating that the audience is suppose to view the clerk woman as a bit unseemly, and definitely crossing some line of “good taste”, for handing this young girl, with the unwanted pregnancy, free birth control. While I’ll agree that the clerk perhaps made Juno uncomfortable by telling a little too much about her own intimate life, it’s still hard not to interpret the clerks actions as anything other than extraordinarily reasonable and even pedagogically correct (teaching often uses the personal to create bonds for learning). Since Juno has shown up to abort a child she does not want, the clerk can assume Juno doesn’t feel ready to be a parent yet wants to be sexually active, so she gives her a condom and tries to further encourage Juno to use it remarking on the condoms nice smell. The Clerk is fulfilling the mandate of all Women’s Health Centers and Abortion Clinics by informing women on the importance of Birth control in order to insure that women won’t have to be constantly facing the challenge of unwanted pregnancies. The films decision to depict the Clerk, and therefore everything about the abortion clinic, as out-of bounds, and even a bit disgusting, seem to paint the mandate of sexual education as moderately nasty and even disrespectful. As a result, Juno comes off as infantile while the clerk seems like someone trying to help and professionally working to ensure the moral mandates and proper educational operations of the Clinic.

The scene ends with Juno retreating from the clinic and deciding to give the child away instead of aborting it.

The worst part of this film is not, however, this bizarre depiction of the clinic, but the conversation Juno has with her female friend directly afterwards. Juno informs her friend how the clerk freaked her out by doing the horrible and unforgivable act of trying to inform her of birth control, highlighting how the clerk giving her a condom was too much for her to handle, on top of the whole situation being wholly uncomfortable for the sadly put-upon Juno (at this point of the film, I felt really bad for the unfortunate clerk who had to put up with Juno for a few minutes – truly, the clerk is the tragic heroine of this film!). While the film tries to portray Juno as a smart young woman, the lines that Juno delivers just make her look like the stereotypically naïve and shallow “valley girl-type” going “eew, gross!” at everything around her instead of a smart responsible nerdy girl. Since the audience is supposed to sympathize with Juno, it is clear that the viewer, in some odd and backwards world of sympathy, is actually meant to concur that what happened in the abortion clinic as revolting and vulgar.

“Juno” could have worked as a film if the theme would have been about choice. Instead, the film very strongly demonizes the very idea of abortion and the act of providing young people with birth control and education, through the metaphor of the Clinic, by means of the actions of the films protagonist being fundamentally and childishly squeamish and ignorantly rejecting of information. The thing is that if you ridicule and portray some of the several options regarding an unwanted pregnancy (such as abortion) as perverse, than the film is no longer about choice, but propaganda for the anti-choice movement.

“Planned Parenthood” and abortion clinics provide an important service for women who feel like they aren’t ready to have children. Having abortion as an option for females everywhere is a right and gives women power over their bodies and lives. Since “Juno’s” depiction of the Women’s Health Clinic was so negative, the viewer can only assume that the film wants to send the message that when faced with unwanted pregnancy, one should automatically erase abortion as an option. As an added bonus, Juno’s disgust with getting a condom even makes it seem that the film finds the idea of being responsible with sex as a comical and “yucky” idea.

So how is one to enjoy the film “Juno”? As a movie tract promoting verbal bullying and devaluing sexual education (and control), whilst moving towards the creation of a morality play of anti-choice. And in the end what we are left with here is but a basic anti-feminist stance couched in the refinement of a young and hip female protagonist.

For another negative review of Juno, read Ezra Steads insightful article.