Thursday, January 17, 2008

Catching up

This is how behind the times I am: A few days ago, Jim Derogatis wrote a scathing "review" of the movie Juno in the Sun-Times. I meant to disagree with him, but so many people have already done it on the newspaper's website that he's closed the comments. Can't take the heat, I guess.

Personally, I liked the movie and the soundtrack. But whatever, I'm a 36-year-old guy. And I'll never say what all teenagers are like or would like. Derogatis, however, seems to be an expert on all things teen, writing:
As an unapologetically old-school feminist, the father of a soon-to-be-teenage daughter, a reporter who regularly talks to actual teens as part of his beat and a plain old moviegoer, I hated, hated, hated this movie. A few of my many problems:

* The notion that kids -- even smart and sarcastic ones -- talk like Juno is a lie only thirty-something filmmakers and fifty-something movie critics could buy. You want accurate wisecracking high-school dialog? Go back to MTV’s animated “Daria” or Sara Gilbert’s Darlene on “Roseanne.”
Um, Jim, in case it matters: I talk to (or at least talk at) 130 teenagers every day. And here's what I know:
  • Some teenagers are clever enough to talk like Juno. Most aren't. A few are even more sarcastic and witty.
  • I've never run into anyone that talks exactly like the character in the movie (who, just like every character in every movie, has been created by someone else). Then again, I've rarely run into teenagers that talk like the ones on MTV do, either.
  • Lots of the teens I deal with would probably hate the movie, too. Then again, just two days ago, one kid, an 18-year-old senior originally from Minnesota, was absolutely raving about the movie and how much it made him want to write music.
  • In my eight years of teaching at CPS, I've never heard of one of my students giving up her baby for adoption. In that time, I've heard of plenty of abortions and births. And I've seen how difficult being a teenage mom is for these girls. So, if Juno promotes adoption, well, I think it's a message kids should see.
And I could say more. But mostly, I just want to say that, even though I teach teenagers (and listen to them and read their personal writing), I would never make a blanket statement about them. And I would never push myself off as some kind of expert on what teenagers think or what they're really like. I sort of know some of them. And the more I learn about them, the more I realize that I don't really know them. I guess Derogatis could name the band that sang "All I know is that I don't know nothing .... and that's fine." Although I guess that's not something a music critic would ever admit.


Anonymous said...

Wow...nice post AP.

appopt said...

A big hello to Jim Derogatis and any readers coming over from his post. My turn to respond: What? One hundred comments and that's it? Conversation over? For what it's worth, I never close comments on any of my posts. Then again, I don't get the traffic you do. But last week, the Daily Kos linked to something I had written a year ago, and people came in by the thousands and had a chance to comment there. Still, I'm not you, but you're not Kos. On that blog, you can comment on any of the posts anytime you want. No closing. Whatever. My main point was that I wanted to comment on your blog but couldn't so instead had to comment here. That's it. For what it's worth, I am a big fan of Sound Opinions and am a Sun-Times subscriber, but I should be able to disagree with you. But thanks for the link to my little blog. Hopefully, people coming over here will stick around to read some of my other posts.