If "Jezebel" were a person, she very well might be up and coming screenwriter Diablo Cody, an ex-stripper and phone sex operator who pens hilarious movies with serious Oscar buzz, dresses like Courtney Love did about halfway through her glam makeover (she wears satin jumpers but also combat boots), writes a blog called the Pussy Ranch, and has made it her mission to create films with multifaceted female leads. Diablo's heroines are not just reacting to the choices of male characters — these women are actually choosing their own destinies.
I saw Diablo's incredible debut, Juno, on Wednesday night. It's about a 16-year-old girl (Juno, played by the unparalleled Ellen Page) who, after finding herself pregnant and half-heartedly attempting to hang herself with red-rope licorice, decides to keep the baby. At first Juno is going to have an abortion, but is freaked out by the clinic receptionist, who offers Juno boysenberry condoms, because, as she explains, they make her boyfriend's "junk smell like pie."
Juno decides that she wants to give her baby up for adoption instead, and she pictures the ideal adoptive parents as "A graphic designer with a cool Japanese girlfriend who plays the bass." The language in Juno is quirky, but not so precious that it feels forced. When Juno tells her best girlfriend, Leah, that she's up the stick, Leah goes "Phuket, Thailand!" (Don't worry, I've already integrated that into my vocabulary.)
After the preview screening, there was a Q&A with Diablo, Ellen Page, Jennifer Garner (who plays the potential adoptive mother of Juno's unborn child) and director Jason Reitman. I asked Diablo about her experience as a woman in Hollywood, what, with Warner Brothers' head putting a freeze on films with female leads and most lady roles reserved for hookers, victims and doormats. Diablo said that although she had no trouble getting Juno made, her subsequent experiences in Hollywood have inspired her to go on a personal mission to make movies starring complex, intelligent leading ladies. In a New York Times article that comes out this weekend, Diablo says: "The attitude towards women in this industry is nauseating. There are all sorts of porcine executives who are uncomfortable with a woman doing anything subversive. They want the movie about the beautiful girl who trips and falls, the adorable klutz." She's also working on the lady version of Superbad, which is tentatively called Girly Style, and which I will see as soon as humanly possible.
I went up to talk to Diablo after the Q&A like a big dorky fangirl, and guess what? Not only was she totally generous and down to earth, but she reads Jezebel!! Diablo herself was discovered and encouraged to try screenwriting after a producer read her blog. So Diablo, if you're reading this, thanks for creating subversive female leads, and we hope you create many, many more.
Diablo Cody: From Ex-Stripper To A-Lister [Entertainment Weekly]
The Pussy Ranch [Diablo Cody's Website]
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