Karina’s Capsule: Juntoons

Juntoons: the latest entry into the new frontier of semi-surreptitious online movie marketing, or legit fan fiction? Thrillingly weird mashup of sex ed and Adult Swim, or questionable propaganda designed to cover Fox Searchlight’s butt for releasing a film that implicitly condones unsafe teen sex?

I wish I knew the answers to those questions. After watching the eight Juntoons currently online, here’s what I can tell you: They’re a series of animated shorts produced for and distributed solely on YouTube and MySpace, incorporating recognizable characters, themes and narrative strands from the hugely hyped teen sex dramedy Juno. The Juntoons have been released into the world with no visible studio branding or direct link to the movie or distributor’s web site, but they seem way too slick to be the work of an actual fan of the film — especially considering that the movie has been in theaters for less than two weeks, and on less than 50 screens across a handful of cities.

That said, both the YouTube and MySpace pages feature evidence of an attempt to make Juntoons look as though they’re the product of a 17-year-old Canadian girl named Jemima. I can’t access Jemima’s Facebook profile, but her MySpace profile bears allusions to Ghost World, Freaks and Geeks and Superbad in a very “If you liked these youth culture touchstones, you’ll love Juno!” sort of way. It’s also full of references to Diablo Cody, Juno‘s stripper-turned-blogger-turned screenwriter, including this name check in the “Heroes” section: “My mother’s concerned Diablo Cody is encouraging me to be a stripper. So maybe her.” Cody linked to a recent Juntoon episode on her blog without comment on the series’ origin. So…mission accomplished?

Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the Juntoons are a studio-sanctioned promotion for the film. Most episodes carry some sort of safe-sex message, which seems like a too-easy stab at damage control over the fact that Juno itself essentially paints a condom-less deflowering and the pregnancy that ensues as ultimately positive rites of passage for its protagonists, and I have some qualms about that.

But there’s a crudeness to the Juntoons that’s hard to resist. Now, is it socially responsible to market a movie to teenagers with a cartoon of Iggy Pop accusing an anthropomorphized condom and diaphragm of having “had more cum pumped into you than Elton John on New Year’s Eve”? Probably not, but I’m glad to have seen it.