Why Juno and flannel plaid shirt is the most hyped thing right now
Everybody likes to be cool and Juno is the coolest movie of 2008 so far.
Why? I tell you why.
First of all, the movie was a big success on blogs because the writer is a girl who has a blog, plus she was a stripper. Both qualities are about exclusion. And when they get together you have a whole world made of people who are excluded that couldn’t do anything else except grab it and defend it as their own lives.
Everybody knows that a short time ago “bloggers” were a bunch of young people with a lot of free time and no important job enough to have a real “space” to say what they think. And strippers, without a space in society, became something bad that you could buy on a video tape and hide in your closet.
But then everything changed. Bloggers are the youngest people with the best jobs and strippers have become hostesses of tv shows or protagonists of documentaries on cable tv, theme of gym market classes, or even friends of Oprah. And everybody loves them, everybody goes after them. And the most important: everybody listens to them and believes them.
So, what could be more perfect than a stripper who has a blog writing a script for a successful movie, telling about a young 16-year-old girl pregnant from old times?
Reply: An independent movie with a good soundtrack consistenting of independent bands and a wardrobe with flannel plaid shirts!
Let’s face, this movie has the perfect key to conquer weird young people with an iPod and a fast broadband internet.
This movie is about THIS GENERATION. But not the WHOLE generation, only about the HYPE GENERATION.
The movie shows clearly the conflict between hype-indie-cool people (Juno, a girl who wears boys’ jeans, has a ponytail, dirty sneakers and doesn’t care about vanity and insists to be independent even when she has to decide about a human being’s future) and the rich-boring-polo t-shirt-conservative-squared people from the other side (the couple, who lives in a huge fancy house, wears blue and pastel color clothes, and in reality they don’t like their life style).
Does it remind you of something? Oh, of course it does. It reminds of the old war between who you are and who everybody would like that you would be. Young people live that nowadays as their own routine.
A dialogue in the movie shows exactly that when Juno describes about her school colleague that belongs to the American football with his cool jacket that has the team’s name on it and should be going out with the perfect-straight-blond-hair cheerleader girl but what he really would like to do is to go out with indie-alternative-excluded-girls like her.
Or even the biggest character played by the husband, Mark, who is an, of course, advertisement-musician guy but is stacked to his perfect-addicted to shop-wife (I bet she works as Human Resources in a big company) who doesn’t allow him to play his guitars and says “Your shirt is stupid. Grow up”, referring to his cartoon-band shirt while he is too busy trying to decide between the cheesecake or eggs crème paint colors for walls. But the truth is that his whole life is in boxes piled up in the basement.
Do you really think that he felt in love by Juno because she is nice and her androgyny and CD’s confused his feelings? Or because he sees himself as he would like to be before what he became? How many people do you think could see themselves in her watching the movie? Or even how many people actually did see themselves in the husband?
The strategy here is about to cover up every possibility of identification through the movie story. Juno has 16 and Mark has around 35. That makes possible to people to see themselves at some point during the movie. All characters have peculiar qualities. The shy-determinate boyfriend, Juno the crazy precocious girl trying to find her own personality, Mark an “old-guy” trying to rescue his personality, Vanessa the woman suffering with her age coming on a middle-age-crisis, or Vanessa and her mother feeling going away as the time goes by and the candles on the birth cake burns down, the cheerleader who is perfect but rather to walk around with a weird but very unique friend who has the personality that she hasn’t, the group of boys running together to feel part of something, Juno’s father who has to rise a teenager daughter by himself because the wife has left them, the stepmother trying to be a mother of someone else’s child. Everybody can find their own egos on the screen eventually.
Should I tell more?
Ok, if you don’t like psychology let’s talk about marketing.
Juno is the perfect portrait of an indie-alternative young person. She stays the whole movie wearing a flannel plaid shirt or a striped shirt, both are the fashion items in the market nowadays, symbol of indies and alternative style. She and her friend wears huge 70’s sunglasses that are very fashionable rigtht now. Everybody wants to have one of those if they already don’t have it. She has a weirdo – but considered very good – taste for music and cinema. She likes punk, old rock, she quotes at least 4 cool bands during the movie.
White Stripes, Iggy Pop, Patty Smith, Sonic Youth, The Stooges, The Velvet Underground, Runaways. Band that you probably have seen playing in the same concert recently.
Alternative bands in the soundtrack like Cat Power, Belle & Sebastian, The Kinks, or the main music from Moldy Peaches that will become the next big thing for downloads on the internet, and trash movies like Wizard of Gore, would be all a joke a short time ago if wasn’t MySpace and Youtube among others.
Both tools are more than internet devices. They provide an alternative for alternative and anonymous people to show their real or even the “wannabe” face, they allow people to be part of something, some group, community, to share the same friends profile, to search for common (bizarre) interests, and somehow to feel not a lonely weirdo anymore, encouraging them to put their stuff on the web and spread around creating a new concept of beauty, music, sense and of course staring the new cools known until now as “freaks”.
Trash movies are cool now because a lot of people always wanted to make movies, but only Hollywood could make it before YouTube. Now, a hand-cam and a cracked Pinnacle in your computer and you can be the new Tarantino or Sophia Coppola, and then trash movies step out from the last place in the list to the first art of the world. Because trash is cool and accepts you with your skills and a camera. The same thing goes with music. Now a garage, a microphone and a profile on MySpace and you can share your attitude worldwide. And then, the next thing you know is Artic Monkeys or Cansei de Ser Sexy on first place at Billboard List of the most famous internet and worldwide artists ever without spending a penny. So, alternative-indie garage rock is cool, because you can be cool too no matter what or how.( Take as reference Chris Crocker who become famous worldwilde day by night after his video crying and asking to people to stop bug Britney Spears. Now he is a celebrity on MySpace.)
Those advices had become the new Pop Art where the essence goes away at the same time you feel stronger and has more confidence about who you are or would like to be. Warhol already knew that and now everybody does as well.
Then, Juno-like trash-movies like Dario Argento and Suspiria. They watch a very bloody and bizarre terror movie (just like Tarantino`s references). Her bedroom has the new cool art – graffiti – all over the walls. Her kitchen looks exactly like “The Wonder Years”, which is very familiar for all 20-year-olds people nowadays and they all miss that for sure as the trends say. Her socks are striped and colorful.
She has vinyl’s on the floor and the best marketing catch – The Hamburger Phone, that Ebay is flooded with offers selling that. Actually, to promote the movie the studio has sent this phone to critics as part of the marketing strategy. And now everybody wants to talk on a hamburger sandwich. How cool is that, right?
But she isn’t the only cool character in the movie. Mark, the husband, is the young-indie-guy grown. He has guitars, cool old bands t-shirts (which ironically his wife wears the same t-shirts to paint the room and makes it dirty), he reads Japanese cartoons, is a freelancer who works in advertising and of course, has a “place in downtown. A loft.” As his wife said: “Aren’t you the cool guy, hã?”.
Anyway, as you can see Juno is the coolest movie of 2008 so far because obviously it has all the trends and quirky stuff and put together in a story that every post-teenager would see himself in. Like the first fears and changing big situations of life (first sex time, first bad decision such as pregnancy, face the family, face the opinion of school and friends, find the type of personality, the experimentations, first love, first deceptions…)
This movie is the biggest strategy so far because instead of to sell jeans or perfums for this target, it sells a GENERATION through a script on a screen. The movie could be a jeans or a new cell phone, but here is the magic, people here don’t consume “the movie” as an experience as movies does often. But they consume THE MOVIE as A PRODUCT. The music, the clothes, the style, the sunglasses, the attitudes, every single detail put in the movie is a product that is consumed and will be as people see it and go right after the session to search for it or to incorporate.
In the place of a ordinary brief to sell a soap or a new electronic device for post-teenagers and young people, A/B, who likes music, has internet and stays connected at least 10 hours a day, goes to concerts, has freaks friends and like to be tuned on everything, the brief was to sell a generation that could allow everyone sees a little bit of their personalities or conflicts on some character and then to get closer of their screened lifestyle so, that way they can consume what the characters consumes.
Here it goes, the explanation why the movie began in 7 theaters an in a short time was in more then 2000 places. Because they put an advertisement on TV? Because they invest a thousand millions of dollars in a monkey strategy to sell a cool movie using cool ads? No. It’s because they used the feeling of identification and the talking to promote that. Monkey see, monkey does. People see, people talk. People buy. Buzz was the real strategy.
What happened? The movie has 3 indications for Golden Globe and 4 indications to Oscar, including the best movie (which is obviously won’t win, after all if it does, it goes against the independent-strategy-thing. It’s like good bands that used to play in their garages and made marketing by themselves, through internet and by make people trust on them, and suddenly they get a contract with BMG recording…it seems like…a betrayal). The movie has been talked in all blogs (of course, if a blog writer could done such a big movie, every blogger can) and the best part, the writer now is in a project with SPIELBERG for a TV show called UNITED STATES OF TARA. (can you imagine someone better to make mainstream than Spierlbeg?).
The concept of the movie in a whole is very good and easy going but equally very weird, but as Juno said herself: “normalness was never our thing”. Indeed it wasn’t until now.
Keywords: Juno movie, analysis, semiotic, music, character, cool, hype, alternative bands, web narcissism, teenagers, release, critics.