The Big Problem With ‘Love, Simon’

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Image courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

by Nick Joy

“Love, Simon” is a romantic comedy that was released March 6, 2018. It centers around a teenager named Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), who is facing the struggles of being a closeted gay teenage boy.

Sorry to pour flaming hot tea on your praises, but “Love Simon” is pretty toxic for actual gay teens. Even though this movie should be commended for cultivating relatability with heterosexual audiences flooding out to watch this movie, this has to be said: “Love, Simon” is super unrealistic.

First off, there is no real struggle that Simon faces. He is a white, cisgender, masculine guy, who is loved by his family and is good at making friends and is generally popular.

The main struggle he faces is being in the closet, and finding acceptance from others. The stakes for the main character are so low, I could care less if he comes out or not.

Simon is just another white teenage upper-to-middle class boy with a lot friends and an open family. There is no real struggle for this character in a movie that is representing a community that is so diverse.

There were some opportunities for the story to be different. A supporting character, Ethan, is a person of color, feminine, and was not accepted by his family, and was actually bullied for being gay. All signs point to Ethan’s bullying being a lot more severe than Simon’s. This was a complex, interesting character — who was in the movie for all of three minutes.

And speaking of bullying: There is a scene after Simon came back to school from winter break and two bullies (Aaron and Spencer) start to harass Simon and Ethan because they’re both the only gay guys. They get stopped by some people, and in turn they get sent to the office with Ethan and Simon. I’d argue that Simon actually plays the bully in the scene outside the principal’s office. The conversation after a brief silence ensues.

Simon: Hey, I’m sorry, Ethan. None of this ever happened when just you were out.

Ethan: You know what they say, one gay is a snooze, two’s a hilarious hate crime. You could’ve told me you were gay.

Simon: I guess I didn’t think we had very much in common.

Ethan: [Laughs] You’re telling me, Simon. It’s not like your all-hoodie wardrobe rocks my world.

Simon: [Laughs] I don’t know, I — maybe I was jealous. You’ve been out since you were 16, and it always seemed so easy for you

Ethan: Easy? Are you kidding me? My mom still tells my grandparents about all the girls I’m dating when we go over to their house for dinner every Sunday. She says it’s because they’re old and religious and it’s just easier that way. I don’t know, maybe that’s true. But you should hear her voice when she talks about the girls.

This character needs his own show or movie. He’s much more interesting than Simon.

I’m mad that the directors even added this scene at all. It shrugs off the harm that Ethan has went through and that Simon (Mr. Privilege over here) saw and did nothing about. It’s horrifying that Simon dares to call what Ethan went through as “easy.”

All in all, it is annoying that one of the first mainstream teen films that is realistic with a gay protagonist (sorry, “Call Me By Your Name”) is so vanilla. I feel like we all need to see more diversity in mainstream film directed towards teenagers and LGBTQA+ people.

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