Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Representation Matters

The movie Love, Simon was released this past weekend, to an overwhelmingly positive reception. Not only did it receive 91% on Rotten Tomatoes, people took to Twitter, exclaiming how much they loved the movie. I was definitely one of these people--I read Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda awhile ago, and this movie definitely did it justice (from what I can remember. A re-read of the book is now a must).

While there have been high school coming out movies made before, Love, Simon made headlines because it was released from a major movie studio. Mostly, these movies were released by independent companies, meaning that they weren't seen by a large audience. Released by Fox 2000, and featuring well-known actors, Love, Simon got more attraction and advertising than many of the movies mentioned in the list I linked above.

The importance of this is tenfold, and this is something you can see just through searching the tag #LoveSimon on Twitter. Both adults and teens alike can't stop talking about how much they loved this movie--the adults wishing that this was a movie that they had when they were teenagers. As a first major studio gay teen rom-com (that made $11.5 million in its first weekend!), it's on par with the profit of John Green movies in the theater. And that's amazing, for a lot of people.

Jeff Zentner, another fantastic YA author, put it best after seeing the movie:

"We just saw Love, Simon, and it was beyond perfect. I loved everything about it. The performances were pitch perfect, so deeply sympathetic and hilarious. The movie was perfectly cast (1/5).

The musical cues were amazing. The comic beats killed me. The romantic beats killed me. Imagine the best of John Hughes and then turn everything up two or three clicks. Go see this movie!! And read the book!! It's just as delightful (2/5)!!

I forgot to mention how deeply moving it is. It's cliche to say something will make you laugh and cry, but it really will (3/5).

One more thing that kept running through my head while watching it: evil people can win political elections and hold power. But while they do... (4/5).

our country's center of gravity is going to keep shifting out from under them, because good people are better at telling good stories. And stories shift our culture (5/5)."

Featuring these kinds of stories in such a prominent way shows that our culture is shifting in a positive way, despite all the negativity spewed by this administration. Books are important. Movies are important. Stories are important. As a creator myself, I'm going to continue to support endeavors that let oppressed populations be heard. Especially when they're as well done as Love, Simon was. With memorable characters, humor, well-crafted romance, and a fantastic soundtrack, it hit all the right notes. There's probably something for almost anyone in this movie.

The shift toward giving voices to oppressed populations is easily seen within one of my favorite things--young adult literature. Love, Simon has shown that it's possible for these stories to make it to the big screen and be successful. Go see Love, Simon--and then buy the book. And while you're reading the book, listen to the playlist I made for Simon! Maybe download the soundtrack for the movie too, because it also doesn't disappoint.

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