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Stop praising Love, Simon

Warning: this review spoils the poorly made film

Photo courtesy of foxmovies.com

Surrounded by the backdrop of upper-middle-class suburbia and the white people to match, Love, Simon tells the story of Simon Spier (Nick Robinson) who lives a picture perfect and extremely privileged life. He has caring (and at times cripplingly awkward) parents and a loving sister who is equal parts aspiring chef and useless character in the film. Though his life seems flawless, Simon has one big secret: he’s gay.

After an anonymous student “Blue” posts on Creek Secrets (the high school’s gossip blog), Simon jumps at the opportunity to be understood and emails Blue. Their relationship develops over a series of email exchanges, and Simon’s main goal becomes discovering who Blue is.

While the film boasts an overall happy tone and an even happier ending, it fails at being the representative piece of media that it claims to be. The film perpetuates the idea that homosexuality is a spectacle and ultimately fetishizes the coming out story. And most of all, it proves that representative media must be made more palatable in order to be consumed by a mainstream audience, which for all extensive purposes, is a white, heterosexual audience.

Early in the film, Simon builds a conditional friendship with another student who eventually outs him on Creek Secrets. The film does do a good job at sharing how a coming out story is one that belongs to its owner, but this feat is overshadowed by the events that follow.

In a span of 15 minutes, Simon is outted, bullied, loses all of his friends, reclaims his coming out story, gets all his friends back, is accepted by his family, and his life is suddenly back to normal—everyone just knows he’s gay now, and everyone is completely fine with it in this weird, fairytale suburbia.

In his triumphant reclamation, Simon invites Blue to come forward on Creek Secrets. He says to Blue—and everyone else on the internet—that he will be waiting for him on the ferris wheel at the local fair the following weekend.

When the time comes, Simon waits for Blue with an audience of nearly 50 of his peers. They wait patiently with Simon for his perfect love story to come to fruition and—obviously—Blue shows up at the last minute, right when Simon is about to give up any and all hope of him coming at all. As the scenario plays out, it becomes increasingly infuriating. It is tasteless, and most of all, exploits gay identity as if being gay is nothing but a spectacle. This definitely isn’t uncharacteristic of the film though; it’s where Love, Simon falls particularly short and all of its sad, prior attempts for representation suddenly seem mild and okay.

Stories like these are important and needed. But Love, Simon is not a good gay love story, and it is not some breakthrough piece of LGBTQ+ media that helps the heterosexual community and beyond understand a coming out story and its nuances. It glamorizes the coming out story and completely misunderstands layered gay identity. It perpetuates the idea that for gay people, sexuality comes first and other traits are secondary.

What Love, Simon really is is an opportunity that 20th Century Fox took full advantage of to capitalize on the commodification of the LGBTQ+ community and the growing demand for increased representation.

Love, Simon strips marginalized people of any agency. It is a representation of how gay love stories should not unfold on screen. It’s an excuse for heterosexual audiences to proclaim that they are cultured and “woke,” because they thought it was good. Audiences need to know that it is okay to demand more instead of settling for stories that are completely tone deaf and continuously miss the mark.

The soundtrack is really, really good though. 

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