“Love, Simon” is a romantic, idealistic view of acceptance

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“Love, Simon,” directed by Greg Berlanti, was released March 16, 2018 and adapted from the book “Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda” by Becky Albertalli. The film tells the story of a closeted high school senior, Simon (Nick Robinson), who falls in love with another closeted gay senior (Keiynan Lonsdale) via an anonymous email conversation. Throughout the film, Simon becomes more comfortable with his sexuality and later comes out to his family, friends and entire high school.

The setting of the movie was superb and set a tone of mundane, suburban beauty that accurately portrayed what life is like for the affluent middle class. Likewise, the soundtrack featured alternative but well-known music that is able to represent the taste of most adolescents and young-adults, including me. Both of these aspects of the movie made it more relatable to viewers in an inconspicuous way, which made the plot resonate more.

The casting of the movie was done well and was racially diverse. The racially diverse cast bettered the film’s characterization, which was done well and represents a slew of nuanced, unexpected plays on typical character tropes: Simon’s ex-high school quarterback dad (Josh Duhamel), who didn’t peak in high-school and is also sensitive; the weird, desperate theatre nerd (Logan Miller), who also gives touching pep-talks; the fun-loving best friends, Katherine Langford, Alexandra Shipp and Jorge Lendeborg, Jr., who also have their own, unique storylines and develop in stride with Simon’s character rather than being sidekicks; and the email personality of Blue, who the viewer falls in love with just as Simon does without seeing their physical appearance first.

The plot is somewhat nuanced and realistic. I was not able to predict the end in its entirety like I normally can with blockbuster movies, but it still ends in a typical fashion.

During the movie, Simon’s homosexuality is widely accepted after he comes out. There are two characters in the movie whose sole purpose is to make fun of the only out student at the high-school, and then later Simon when he comes out. However, these two characters are not well-liked among the students and are handily dealt with by a school teacher.

Other than by the two antagonistic, stupid characters (one trope that wasn’t nuanced in the film), Simon is accepted and loved after he comes out. His family responds well to his outing and continues the pattern of perfect, unconditional love that was present throughout the movie. His friends, after dealing with intragroup conflict, become his loudest cheer squad during his adjustment to life post-public outing. And, at the end of the movie, the majority of the high school cheers to Simon’s public display of affection with his love interest.

It is this comforting, happy acceptance by everyone Simon knows that makes me skeptical. I can’t help but wonder how the reception of Simon’s outing would have been if his family had not been the successful, supportive liberals that they were. If his family was staunchly religious, conservative, economically unstable or even if they had one conflict during the entire film, the acceptance of Simon’s outing would likely be wildly different.

Simon’s high school is exuberantly, almost nauseatingly, affluent. The cafeteria and courtyard are spacious and modern; the theater’s backstage is spacious and packed full of anything one would need to put on a great production; the football field is a stadium with food trucks and various vendors at the homecoming game; the poorest known character lives in a nice, spacious apartment. If his town was not as affluent and ideally diverse as portrayed in the movie, the acceptance of Simon’s outing would likely be wildly different.

Ignoring the unexpected ease with which the privileged characters accept the newly public gayness of the privileged Simon, it is still unbelievable that only two characters don’t support him. It is idealistic to believe that Simon’s public high school has only two homophobic students in its entire student body. It is even more unbelievable that the two aforementioned homophobes aren’t encouraged or supported in their bullying.

Despite the follies in plot and economic or ideological diversity and conflict in the film, “Love, Simon” provides viewers with a movie representative of a typically marginalized group in a way that shows the character majorly supported after his coming out. While it may be slightly unrealistic, the film showcases what should happen after a person comes out. Perhaps the unrealistic nature of the film is in fact a good thing — acceptance as it should be, not as it is.

Cover photo courtesy of  The Hollywood Reporter.

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