Dibble Cody, is a great film to use in analyzing the commonly tumultuous and chaotic adolescent years. While my biggest struggles during primary school came prior to age thirteen, I have often wondered at what it must have been like to be a teenaged high school student dealing with the “condition” of teen pregnancy on top of all the pressures teens typically face.
Specifically, I remember a girl in my class who became pregnant our senior year by a boy from another school. She was pregnant almost the hole school year, and even walked across stage to receive her diploma at graduation. I remember being simultaneously shocked and impressed by her audacity – it flew in the face of the school’s administration and outraged parents alike. Tickling the underbelly of controversy, specifically on the pro-life versus pro- choice platforms, is in my opinion one of Juncos strong points.
The purpose of this paper, however, is to explore the developmental psychology topics and theories on which the film I chose touches. Therefore, I must delve into the chaotic world of adolescence. Of course we cannot even begin to discuss the intricacies of Junco thou first addressing the main premise of teen pregnancy, which would not have been possible without puberty and maturation – Junco Mecums having matured to the point of menstruation and Pauline Sleeker, at least past the point of his first ejaculation.
When the two decide to have sex, Junco describes it as happening because they were bored. This comment implies that the two long-time friends were exploring their sexuality out of curiosity, failing to exercise much in the way of intimacy or foresight. While initially shocking, this behavior in the adolescent makes sense given that their Journey into young adulthood has Just begun. And now, with their still-developing brains hormonally charged, they are thrown into bodies that are suddenly fully capable of reproducing. And so the story goes.
Throughout the film we see Junco struggle, although humorously, with the inconveniences of pregnancy. One of the first scenes shows Junco drinking massive amounts of Sunny Delight in order to produce enough urine to take yet another home pregnancy test – all have come out positive. We then see her vomiting into a vase in the hall of her house, gaining weight and developing that trademark “waddle”, and that moment when her water breaks. The events contained throughout the rest of Junco, while still humorous, are much heavier.
Interestingly, we see several instances in the movie where Junco is talking and dealing with her parents regarding her pregnancy – when she first tells them, when her step-mother Beer takes her to her first doctor’s appointment, when her dad brings her to Mark and Vanessa house to discuss the adoption – but we see very little of Pauline doing the same. This speaks to the tendency of girls to discuss their adolescent experiences much more frequently and openly then boys. This also touches a bit on the freedom teenage girls are given versus that of boys.
While it is obvious that Junco is intensely pursuing autonomy and personal freedom throughout the entirety of the film, it is Pauline that seems to be given all the leeway. Although he is obviously Just as responsible as Junco for the baby she is now carrying, it is Junco that is left to face the real “tough” stuff. The visit to the abortion clinic, searching for adoptive parents and carrying around the physical proof of their “mistake” is all taken on by Junco herself. It is true that Junco distances herself from Pauline once she becomes pregnant, and this may account for Epaulet’s lack of involvement in the pregnancy.
The question is, why? Why does Junco retreat into herself so fully during these nine months? Part of the answer may be found in Erosion’s theory on identity versus identity confusion. Because Juncos character comes off as intelligent, unique and self-confident, it stands to reason that she felt a strong sense of identity prior to getting pregnant. However, when she begins to absorb the realities of her situation, she begins to question the identity she had previously established. In a state of identity confusion, she now struggles with insecurity.
James Marcia, on the other hand, would define this type of behavior as identity diffusion. While Junco appeared at certain points to be carefree, the fact is that she was socially withdrawn. Besides Pauline Sleeker, we only meet one of Juncos friends in the movie, Lea; the only other person she relates to is a middle-aged married man. While the teenage years are tough, I find the aforementioned adult-adolescent dynamic in Junco the toughest to reconcile in my mind. I am speaking of the relationship between Junco and Mark, the perspective adoptive father.
Junco is innocently drawn to Mark because he listens to the same type of music as she does, plays a cool guitar and likes gory horror movies. It is probably comforting to her, in her vulnerable state of confusion, to find someone who shares her interests. Unfortunately, the interests the two share become a catalyst for divorce, as Mark struggles with his own early-adulthood problems. With the information we are given via the film makers, it is hard to nail down the exact cause of Mark and Vanessa separation; it could be due to a number of things.
It appears that, although he and Vanessa have been trying to conceive and adopt a child for a while, Mark is at a different life stage than his wife. Chase would define Mark as drifting between the acquisitive state and the achieving stage, living more in the moment and somewhat mourning his bachelor days. Vanessa, on the other hand, is more strongly grounded in the achieving stage, working in a successful Job and secure in her desire to be a mom. There are alternate reasons for the demise of the Loris’s marriage.
The relationship may simply be missing one of Sternberg three components to the Triangular Theory – my guess would be decision/commitment – leading them to that point in the first four to seven years when divorce is most common. Or perhaps it has more to do with an upset in the typical marriage radiant, as Vanessa seems to be the primary bread-winner in the relationship, or even a failure on one or both of their parts to practice equity, self-disclosure and/or disclosure reciprocity in order to properly maintain their relationship.