Why ‘Love, Simon’ Is An important Movie
by Ian Carlos Crawford
Love, Simon is a based off the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli. The movie is directed by current WB mastermind, Greg Berlanti, and stars Nick Robinson (Jurassic World), Jennifer Garner (Alias), Katherine Langford (13 Reasons Why), Alexandra Shipp (X-Men: Apocalypse), Josh Duhamel (Fergie’s ex), and many more. The movie (and book) is about a young closeted teenager named Simon Spier who is forced to come out after being blackmailed by a classmate who discovers his anonymous emails with another closeted student.
It’s a fairly basic story — and that’s exactly why it’s so important.
In a post-Moonlight, post-Call Me By your Name world, it’s easy to think, “We don’t need this.” But that’s just not true. While many adults (this writer included) read YA novels and watch movies based on those novels — YA is still aimed at teens. Many of us on the internet (again, this writer included), live in more liberal leaning areas or are lucky to be comfortable enough in their skin and not give a shit about what other people think. I am writing this piece for The Matthew Shepard Foundation — a group that fights for legislation to protect the rights of LGBTQ communities with a focus on LGBTQ youth. If organizations like ours were to become obsolete because everything was perfect, then, okay, sure — maybe then we wouldn’t need this movie. But we could still enjoy it though, right?
Richard Lawson, for Vanity Fair, wrote a pretty thorough review of the movie and I’d say the critique I most agree with is in reaction to Simon’s “Well, maybe not that gay” line in the movie after an imaginary dance number (a really stellar, imaginary dance number, I might add) — “Why not that gay? Why not more gay?” It’d be great if, post-Love, Simon, we started getting movies starring characters like Clark Moore’s Ethan. The character of Ethan also represents a possible happier future for Simon. Ethan is an out POC who is clearly comfortable with who he is, and doesn’t take shit from any of the high school bullies. Ethan also serves to show that even with one gay kid (aka one gay movie a year) as a positive reference for Simon, it’s still hard for Simon to come out. Love, Simon also shows that sometimes the act of coming out isn’t that hard, but accepting yourself is. Simon’s mother (played beautifully by Jennifer Garner), gives a speech after he’s been forced out of the closet that will make you weep (unless you’re dead on the inside). It’s nice to see a queer movie where the audience cries not because someone is gay-bashed or dying or dead, but because the character is dealing with his inner turmoil and eventually gets a happy ending. This movie gives so many happy cry moments — it feels unlike any other gay movie.
The happy ending here is what sets this movie apart from other queer movies. It’s nice to see a young gay character be able to smile and kiss the man he loves. Having read the book nearly 3 years ago, I can say the movie kept tricking me into thinking they’d changed who Blue was. I kept feeling unsure and buying every single one of Simon’s fantasies about the person in front of him being Blue.
Straight people get approximately 786 movies a year about their love life that aren’t done half as well as Love, Simon and aren’t as nearly diverse — so why can’t we have more than 2 a year? Why can’t we have one that maybe isn’t meant for anything more than a straight up coming-of-age YA romance.
Hopefully, Berlanti’s Love, Simon will pave the way for a lot of other queer YA books being made into movies. Go see Love, Simon to support a queer movie that is beautiful and basic and yet incredibly revolutionary and important.
About the author:
Ian Carlos Crawford grew up in southern New Jersey and, like most people from NJ, he graduated from Rutgers University. He then graduated from New School with an MFA in nonfiction writing. His writing has appeared on sites like Geeks Out, BuzzFeed, NewNowNext, and other random corners of the internet. He currently co-hosts a podcast about his favorite thing, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, called Slayerfest 98 and is shopping around his fiction manuscript (you can view the book trailer here). Follow him on Twitter @ianxcarlos