"Love, Simon" is the first studio-backed gay teen romance film to ever make it in wide release. This earns its status in the annals of history as a milestone in the fight for gay rights and representation.
Over the years, we have seen progression, but it's usually limited to television and such attempts at inclusion can be troubling. "Queer as Folk," had some quality points but often plays into gay stereotypes of the ostentatious sexual deviant. It is also very white.
On "The Walking Dead" the gay angle felt more like a forced distraction than a remarkable achievement, making audiences reluctant to welcome the homosexual's agenda into their zombie-killing squad. The show also succumbed to the infamous "bury your gays" trope that has plagued television and film since the dawn of the gay revolution, killing off characters Eric Raleigh and Denise Cloyd.
It also seems to me there is a lack of diversity in the gay applicant pool for TV industry jobs. There are character tropes that unfortunately lead to skewed public perceptions of how all gay people conduct themselves. Tituss Burgess on "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt," Eric Stonestreet on "Modern Family," Jack McFarland on "Will and Grace," are all examples of the "effeminate, flamboyant gay person." While these beloved characters symbolize greater inclusion in the culture, many viewers are limited to these characterizations and preconceived notions about gay people are reinforced.
Some TV does a masterful job of showing gay people, warts and all and struggles notwithstanding. Shows like "The Fosters" have broken ground in portraying a young teenager toiling with the idea of his sexuality, and enduring mental troubles that are subsequent to self-discovery and "coming out."
Ellen, of course, deserves a major salute. She is an amazing, empowering woman who adopted the mantle of LGBT rights, and is the first talk show host to "come out." Her cult-status daytime talk show does for lesbians what Oprah does for African-American women.
So why is "Love, Simon" so important? There have been independent, art-house, and foreign films that have cycled and recycled gay storylines a thousand times over.
Well, one of the differences is that this is the first time a staunchly gay film has had a mainstream release. "Love, Simon" opened in 2400 theaters nationwide, by Twentieth Century Fox, and that's nothing to sneeze at.
Also, throughout cinema history, gay characters have been allowed to exist, but often they are inane, secondary ("gay best friend"), irrelevant to the plot, or exist to check off a box on the diversity quota ("inclusion riders"). A breath of fresh air comes in seeing a gay protagonist who, in essence, meets none of these complaints.
Also, contrary to many gay films, Simon receives an ending of happiness rather than AIDS, or a hate-violence-related homicide. This "gay John Hughes film" as it has been effectively called, draws a real, substantive portrait of a closeted kid and the worries, concerns, and anxieties about coming out that are universal.
His identity prompted not only laughs, but well-intentioned cheers and emotional resonance, and for a film like this to be released outside of just a few major metro-markets is earth-shattering.
The movie does have its criticisms that it is too safe and cautious with its message. It trots out liberal parents in a liberal neighborhood and centers on a humdrum white, cisgender suburbanite. But, accept it or not, this movie is a test case that could set the precedent for a host of LGBT life-affirming films. Progress may seem slow and uninspired, but it is still progress.
It's okay to be a perpetual gadfly, but please allow yourself to bask in the glorious triumph of this movie. If you want to pitch the "coming out" story of a genderqueer black kid from a repressed, rural Bible Belt community, then drive to the nearest theater and see this film!
The film industry flies or dies based on audience measurement and ticket sales. If they see overwhelming support for these stories, then demand will increase, and we will see more character sketches of gay people.
2017 and 2018 have been revolutionary times for film-making. There has been a plethora of amazing movies, and many of them were presented at the Oscars this year. By these actors and directors making such ambitious and breathtaking films, they were making history that we need today in order to leave our mark as people of color (POC) in America. Along with many others, here are the main movies that have been the turning points and upward pivots in black films.
1. Get Out
"Get Out" is a horror movie about an African-American man visiting his white girlfriend's parents for a weekend, and but the tension between the people reaches a boiling point that no viewer would ever expect. As interesting as that part of the movie sounds, that was not where the plot twist came into the picture. Instead, it arrived when director Jordan Peele was the first African-American screenwriter to win an Academy Award in the 90 years since the Academy Awards aired.
He was not the only African- American screenwriter to be nominated/ In the past, a total of four have been nominated: Suzanne de Passe for “Lady Sings the Blues,” Spike Lee for “Do the Right Thing” and John Singleton's “Boyz n the Hood."
2. Wonder Women
"Wonder Women" is a film about a girl who is hidden from men and her true powers until a war flier crashes into her land. Once he fell into there hidden lands, she went with him to defeat the god who has caused so much trouble for her and her people. During this time in the real world, she discovered her true abilities as a woman and as a superhero. However, this film is most empowering because director Patty Jenkins is the first female director of Warner Bros to direct a superhero film.
3. Black Panther
As many of you know, "Black Panther" had made a significant impact in film history at the beginning of 2018. It is about a fictitious place in Africa known as Wakanda, where everything is technologically ahead in a plethora of ways. It's about a son taking his father's place as king and shows that, though all mistakes come back to haunt you if not handled correctly, they can still be fixed, no matter how much time passes after they take place.
One of the biggest moments for the movie was that it actually hit the one billion dollar mark in the worldwide box office numbers! In addition to making such a huge impact, the director of "Black Panther," Ryan Coolger, is the youngest Marvel director ever.
4. Victoria & Abdul
"Victoria & Abdul" is about an unlikely friendship between Queen Victoria and Clerk Abdul Karim. This film is making its mark because it proves that even the oddest and most different people can create a friendship that lasts a lifetime. It shows that two completely different people with nothing in common to begin with can become very close friends for life. Although this film did not win in the 2018 Oscars, it was still nominated in a plethora of categories which shows the mark that it is making in film-making.
5. A Wrinkle In Time
"A Wrinkle In Time" is about a group of children who go and attempt to find the father of one of the girls in the group. However, in order to do that, they must go through space to find him, using the help of three peculiar beings. This film is making its mark by having the first black female director, Ava DuVernay, to have directed a movie that has hit a one hundred million dollar budget only.
This movie had been in the hands of many, ever since Catherine Hand got it, and she had high hopes for this book ever since she had read it. Once she got the rights to make a movie, it passed through over 20 years of producers until it got into the hands of DuVernay.