LETTER: Fowler's response to Love, Simon missed important mark
On April 5, the Sex and the City column of The Daily Targum criticized “Love, Simon.” The movie, the column claimed, showed a simplistic view of coming out. The parents were too perfect. The movie did not explore the ramifications of a closeted life fully enough. Furthermore, the column argued that the movie failed to include an LGBT female character. Because of this, the writer seemed to claim the movie failed as LGBT representation.
And yet, for a column that begins by noting the prevalence of the Bury Your Gays trope, this article seems to fail to grasp the true significance of the movie. No one dies. Simon gets to live happily ever after.
Every LGBT person is familiar with the pain of being closeted, and the pain of coming out. We have an abundance of movies and books that already represent this experience. What “Love, Simon” sets out to do is far more radical than this. It rewrites the narrative, and it says that even within a narrative as viscerally terrifying to an LGBT person as being outed against your will to your entire school is, there can still be a happy ending. Your parents will accept you. You will get the boy in the end. There is an element of wish fulfillment here to be sure — how many of us have actually been able to have the conversation Simon has with his mother, when she gives him her full acceptance and her permission to breathe out? Rather than yet another movie about pain and heartbreak, we at last get a movie about hope and acceptance and happiness.
The column also tangentially criticizes the movie for giving us a white, male, middle-class protagonist. To be sure, it is important to be critical of the type of representation that we receive. The LGBT community is far more varied and diverse than Simon is, but the movie also gives us Bram, his love interest, who is Jewish and Black, both of which are things that are much more rare to see in either a gay movie or in a teen rom-com, and that is a victory to be celebrated when we discuss “Love, Simon.”
In the end, “Love, Simon” is not a pinnacle of gay representation. But no one expected it to be. It is a teen movie, a long overdue rom-com about a gay teenager who gets the boy and gets to live happily ever after. In a world of “Brokeback Mountain”s and “A Single Man”s, it is uniquely refreshing to see a movie that, if it makes you cry, makes you cry because it is happy. A movie that, although it may not be perfect, offers a view of what could be, if the world is just a little bit better.
Briony Smith is a School of Arts and Sciences junior majoring in political science.