I’ve been obsessing over 120 Beats Per Minute since I first saw it and have been wanting to talk about it with anyone willing. I did a recent podcast with Michael Glass on the film as part of the Eavesdropping at the Movies podcast. And this is one of what I hope will be at least several conversations on the film. If the first podcast was in conjunction with a young heterosexual critic, this one is with a young queer arts producer/ art maker: Adam Carver is a designer, theatre-maker and creative producer for SHOUT, the Festival of Queer Arts and Culture in Birmingham. I wanted to talk to him because almost all of my conversations on the film had been with people more or less my age, people who’d come out in the 80s, lived some of the experiences represented in the film first-hand, and with whom I more or less shared all the responses the film elicited. I wanted to talk to Adam not only because of his interests in queer arts and culture but also because he’s much younger, several generations younger, and would bring a different and, to me, much needed perspective on the experience of watching the film. I hope some of you at least will find the conversation interesting and useful.
In an illuminating article in The Guardian, Anne Smith quotes Russell T. Davies, writer of Queer as Folk as saying: ‘Love, Simon’s director has championed gay characters in many TV shows, from Dawson’s Creek to The Flash: “Greg Berlanti is a TV man through and through. He’s got acres of successful gay stories behind him. To see him bringing that into the multiplexes is a glorious victory.” In this podcast we discuss the film as a young adult romance with a twist: Love, Simon gives gay teens a high school movie with a decent budget and aimed at a wide audience. We both have mixed feelings on it, but find it a well-meaning and substantially positive film. We discuss some shortcuts it takes – the use of a queeny character to render Simon more acceptable, the setting in upper middle class suburbia making Simon’s sexuality the only issue in his life, a certain generic formulaicity – and ideas the film depicts as simple that could and should be more complex, including conversations we’d like to have seen Simon have with his best friend and the aforementioned queen. Not to mention the rather flat aesthetics.
It’s a discussion that does almost nothing but pick out flaws but nonetheless finds that the breadth of the film’s intended audience mitigates them and its goodness of heart shines through. As Davies says in the article above: ‘“I think we should be very careful if we imagine these changes are permanent. It’s been almost 20 years since Queer As Folk but still, every time I write a gay character, someone somewhere complains, and someone somewhere says, ‘This is new!’ It’s not one battle, it’s a constant fight.”’
Worth a watch!
Recorded on 6th April 2018.
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José Arroyo and Michael Glass of Writing About Film