Simon Versus The Film Industry’s Standards

Simon Versus The Film Industry’s Standards

By Cady Inabinett

I think that the reason that people enjoy reading is because how it makes them feel. I know that I will absolutely devour a book that makes me feel anything at all. But, during this past winter term, I was drowning under a pile of reading assignments that didn’t make me feel much of anything other than stress over upcoming due dates and tests. So, I took advantage of semester break, Special Projects Week, and the slow-ish first week of the term to read a book that I’ve been meaning to read for what seems like an eternity now: Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.

Simon Vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of the more hyped up young adult books, but, in my opinion, it’s hyped for good reason. It’s the story of not-so-openly gay Simon Spier, who becomes involved in a petty, high school case of blackmail when someone starts threatening to reveal his and his (sort of) boyfriend’s sexualities to the school. But it’s so much more than a story of romance and blackmail; it’s a story about realizing who you are and coming to terms that people change and so do you. It’s a story that has parts that resonate with everyone, whether you’re gay, straight, or whatever label or lack thereof you like.

In my opinion, the book is absolutely fantastic, but it might not be everyone’s favorite. The plot sometimes is a little slow, and the writing isn’t really anything too spectacular. However, I think the book’s strongest aspect is how it makes you feel. Becky Albertalli, the author, did a rather spectacular job of getting into a teenager’s head. She painted a brilliant picture of all the little quirks, weird thoughts, and anxieties that many teenagers face. There’s the illustration of the fear of change, but also the double standards we set for ourselves where we, simultaneously, crave change and routine. It shows how complicated family relationships can be, even when, and maybe especially when, it’s a close-knit family. It shows how friendships can sometimes be complicated and weird, but still wonderful all at once.

Furthermore, this book is a gay love story, and while sexuality is definitely a talking point in this book, it doesn’t just strip characters down to where they are nothing more than a representation of their sexualities. The idea that Simon is more than just gay, that he’s a human being with a life and feelings outside of just being gay, is repeated multiple times within this novel. All too often, minority characters in literature are just that; token characters who have been stipped down to a stereotype of the minority that they represent. It so refreshing to find a book where this isn’t the case.

Another reason I read this book, outside of the fact that it’s been on my to-be-read list for literally two years now, is because the movie adaptation, Love, Simon, comes out on March 16. The release of Love, Simon will be a hallmark in the film industry as being one of the first LGBTQ+ films marketed towards teenage and young adult audiences. This representation can be extremely positive in many ways. It provides a level of diversity where someone who may not see themselves represented in movies very often, will see someone like them on the big screen. And, if it does well at the box office, the industry will definitely take notice and start making more diverse films. And with spunky posters at movie theaters pleading with movie goers to form a line that “doesn’t have to be straight”, who could really say no to it? In short, Love, Simon isn’t just another teen movie; it’s a movie that has the potential to shape a new era in the film industry, especially that of teen movies. And I think that anything that is pro-diversity and pro-inclusiveness in the media deserves our full support, especially when it’s a story as addicting as Simon’s.

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