Juno

The Frenchman saw Juno on his own yesterday as I was writing and didn’t care to see it for lots of reasons. His verdict seems to be that it’s not that funny but definitely quirky, and that he liked Little Miss Sunshine much better. One of the things that was most off-putting about the trailer of Juno was the stylized dialog. The Frenchman indicated that it was strong the first 10 minutes and then it tapered off considerably after that — and thank god because he would have vomited if they’d persisted at the same volume. Of my other friends who’ve seen it, one liked it a lot and another thought it was complete crap.

The background of Juno sort of bothers me politically, professionally and personally. Here’s Diablo Cody on the Intarwebs writing about her vagina and being a stripper in Minnesota. That’s not a problem; she’s got a great snarky prose style with a punch. We love that. But then a Hollywood Someone (Reitman) starts emailing her and bugging her to write a script for him, based on just having read about her vagina. There are tons and tons of women writing wittily about their vaginas, and even more writing exceedingly well about other topics altogether. Out of the vast Intarwebs, he picks Cody, ostensibly because he likes her writing. Fair enough. She at last agrees to write him a script — the first ever in her life, if EW’s interview with her is at all accurate. (And maybe it isn’t. That’s the issue I’m getting at.)

Now, we know that first-ever scripts — or first ever anythings — are never Academy Award(r)-winning material. Tarantino did not write Pulp Fiction out of the gate. It just doesn’t work that way. But somehow Juno, her first-ever-ever script, is this massive success and Cody’s being drug and flung all over Hollywood as The Next Big Thing. She pasted into Time’s (?) Top 50 Smartest People list and is now during the WGA strike a columnist for Entertainment Weekly. Before the strike, she was writing a comedy series for Speilberg.

It’s…weird. More than weird, actually. A 29-year-old woman given the spotlight for one script that most of us know in the business that she probably didn’t write herself. Most likely Reitman and whoever else had a great many rewrites with her until the script actually took the shape of something other than semi-awful-with-potential. (Again, no offense to Cody. This is just how it is whenever anyone is working in a new art form, especially when that writer has only experience writing nonfiction instead of fiction. But then, we don’t know about her background. No one really talks about it — yet.)

Nonetheless, the enormity of the shoulder-riding parade feels out of proportion to the act. I have a lot of questions about this. Is Hollywood self-conscious of its long-standing prejudice against female writers and suddenly trying to atone for its past sins? Is it throwing one (attractive, mind you) young woman up into the spotlight to distract from potential lawsuits? When do we get to see a renaissance of scripts for 40+ year old actresses now to atone for its chronic neglect of older women? (I know, keep dreaming, right?) Does a woman have to focus on her vagina and exhibitionist sexual activities to get attention as a writer? Is that simply the one road to getting anywhere with anyone in this town? (Unless you’re J.K. Rowling, of course.)

I’m just asking. My gut is bothering me and I’m too focused on my own work to really explore what’s happening here in Susan Falludi fashion. Maybe the articles are just inaccurate. Either way, a red flag or two is waving.

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