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The Theoretical Perspectives of Sociology in the Movie "Love, Simon"

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“Love, Simon” is a movie of director Greg Berlanti. The film brings us a closer view of the same-sex love in the modern society. Simon- the main character of the film- is a seventeen-year-old boy who seems to have a totally normal life just like any other teenagers except carrying a big secret. One day, Simon saw a post on the school blog of a guy named Blue confirmed that he’s gay- this truth was covered under a great life just like Simon. Feeling sympathy with Blue, Simon decided to create an account to connect to him. They exchanged the emails continuously until one day, Simon realized that he already fell in love with the guy who he has never seen in real life. Their online conversation was detected by Martin – a guy who crushes Abby, one of Simon’s friends. Martin used that secret to threatened Simon. In the effort of keeping the secret from Martin, Simon had unwittingly hurt his friends by messing up their relationship. The emails along with the conversations were still leaked after all, but it turned out to be a good chance for Simon to fix the mistakes as well as living with his true gender. Simon finally knew the identity of Blue- that’s Bram, one of the friends whom Simon knows, a Jewish and a black people. They ended up becoming a couple.

After the film, we will realize that everyone deserves to be loved under any gender, any religion and any skin color. Through the sociology view, we will understand more clearly how different perspectives can shape human’s behavior in the society.

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The Theoretical Perspectives which can help us determine the perspectives in this film easier consist of two main points Symbolic interactionism and Functionalism.

Firstly, we should understand the meaning of the Symbolic interactionism perspectives. It can be easily clarified that symbolic interactionism is the symbols that were created to help people recognize their life and connect with each other. Under the sociology’s view, Charles Horton Cooley and George Herbert Mead have explained that “The central idea of symbolic interactionism is that symbols- things to which we attach meaning- are the key to understanding how we view the world and communicate with one another. ” As a result, the symbol plays an important role in human’s daily life. In the film Love, Simon, the symbol appears almost everywhere, such as the relationship, the gesture and the language. Here, we will focus on the relationship because it was the thing that has been expressed throughout the movie. Relationship helps us identify our role in the society, clarify how we related to each other to perform the right acts toward them. For example, after Simon came out that he’s gay, he got lots of trouble with his life and he treated everybody embarrassingly. One day, Simon and his mother talked to each other, she felt regret for letting him pass through all the problem alone without knowing anything. Burst out crying, she said, “You are still you, Simon. And you are still the same son whom I love to tease, and whom your father depends on for just about everything. And you are the same brother whom always compliments his sister on her food, even when it sucks. ” This points out the different roles of Simon in the family, a son as well as an older brother. His mother’s meaning is that gender doesn’t change his characteristics at all, Simon was still and always will be an obediently son, a kind brother and a good friend to the people around him. He doesn’t need to change anything, just be him and live his own life. His mom’s saying has boosted Simon’s mood, helped him more confident about his gender as well as the story about Blue with his friends. Therefore, we can see that the relationship helps Simon recognize himself in the society, it broadens his mind to look at the problem clearly and solve it easier. That’s why relationship always is one of the most important factors in the symbolic interactionism.

Next, the functionalism is also a perspective that we need to analyze in this movie. According to Robert Merton, he stated that “the essence of functionalism- the image of society as a whole unit composed of parts that work together. ” He divided functions into two different types: manifest functions, which is “an action is intended to help some part of a system” and the latent functions, “that is, they can have unintended consequences that help a system adjust. ” In the film Love, Simon, the functionalism includes Simon’s family, his friends and his colleges which are related directly to each other. Moreover, Simon and his friends tend to have both manifest function and latent function. When Simon was detected trying to mess up the relationship between his friends to protect the emails’ secret from Martin, their friends got really angry and decided to break up with him with a hope that he would realize his mistakes and felt regret for his wrongdoings, this is viewed as a clear example of latent function. However, after Simon posted the message on the school blog confirmed that he was gay, but he had nothing to worry about it, so he wanted to encourage the other students to live the life they truly belong to and the gender they deeply own. At the end of the message, Simon expressed how he wished to know the identity of Blue. His friends felt sympathize with his story, so they decided to help by asking him to come to the carnival together and wait for Blue’s appearance on the ferris wheel. This is how manifest function means. As we can see that the groups in the society might not depend on each other, but thanks to functionalism, they still connect together through the function and therefore makes the society more balance.

Sociological Imagination

We are living in a world that every society owns a unique culture, and those culture plays an important role in shaping the perspectives of the people in that society. Henslin points out the definition of the culture that it is “the language, beliefs, values, norms, behaviors, and even material objects that characterize a group and are passed from one generation to the next. ” The culture itself is divided into two different sections: material culture and nonmaterial culture. The material culture includes everything that we need for our lives, such as, building, jewelry, clothing or hairstyles. The film Love, Simon reflects the life of the American teenagers in a modern society, so we can see throughout the film, the characters almost wore T-shirts, hoodies and jeans, which are the daily clothes that both female and male teenagers used to wear. Additionally, the two friends of Simon and the music teacher are the black people, and they all have the curly hair. Thus, we will understand that the curly hair is the material culture of the black people while the white people’s hairstyles are more diverse. The nonmaterial culture, according to Henslin, is “a group’s ways of thinking (including its beliefs, values, and other assumptions about the world) and doing (its common patterns of behavior, including language and other forms of interaction); also called symbolic culture. ” The main point that was clearly emphasized during the film is about the homosexual love. Nowadays, same-sex marriage has been accepted in the U. S and the people’ perspective about the LGBT society is also more comfortable although it still creates people the uncommon feelings when facing to it. For example, when Simon shared with Blue why he hasn’t come out yet, he explained: “Maybe because it doesn’t seem fair that only gay people have to come out. Why is the straight the default?” He means that what if in a contrast world, heterosexuality must be the different gender in the culture? If this topic was applied in the films of the previous centuries, it would create many opposite opinions. For the people in the previous centuries considered the homosexuality as a disease, people who were in the LGBT society before could be strongly discriminated by their sexuality, so the parents used to prohibit their child from playing with the homosexuals because they feared that their children will get “infected”. The relationship, especially the love between the homosexual people, therefore, was against the norm of society. Lots of countries in the world, especially the Asian countries, still not approve the existence of homosexuality in their culture.

Fortunately, the American culture nowadays is more kind with the LGBT as well as their love because the modern society believes that everyone deserves to be loved without discriminating the religion, the skin color, and the gender. That’s why the love between a White American guy and a Jewish, black guy just like Simon and Blue is not hard to find anymore and easily accepted. As a result, we can see how culture affects human’s thoughts and the behaviors, so that we need to open our minds to receive the new perspectives besides keeping the traditional beliefs and avoiding the immorality in the culture.

Sociological Concepts

The film pointed out a lot of sociological concepts that we can easily figure out while watching, such as the social networks, the agents of socialization- the family and the school, the teamwork and the stages. The first concept that needs to be focused on is the social networks. As Henslin described, the social networks are “the social ties radiating outward from the self that link people together. ” In Love, Simon, the group of Simon only has four members included him, but they still easily talk and connect to other students inside the campus. Since Bram’s mom couldn’t be home on the Halloween, so he had asked Simon’s group whether they wanted to join the party or not, this announcement, after that, was spread out the whole school and attracted the other students. Therefore, the Halloween party at Bram’s house gathered lots of people come even though they might not know each other, but they still ended up having an interesting night together. The next sociological concept appears in the movie is the agents of socialization. The definition of the agents of socialization means that “the people or groups that affect our self-concept, attitudes, behaviors, or other orientations toward life. ” Since the main concept of the film focuses on the teenagers so most of the scene was directed at the school campus, the classes, the cafeteria, the library or the school’s sports field. By that, we understand that the school plays an important role in educating the adolescence. Thanks to this agent of socialization, Simon met his special one besides having the best friends ever. The family is another social agent that mentioned throughout the movie. Simon was very lucky because he had such a perfectly normal family that always love him and encourage whatever he does. For example, when Simon decided to come out on the Christmas, his family was surprised – which can easily understand since this truth is really hard to believe when we first hear about it, his dad even tried to make a joke to calm everyone down. They never ignore him, only Simon felt ashamed of facing with them. They were the ones, after all, will always love him unconditionally, no matter what his gender is. Besides telling the story about an emotional ride of finding self and falling in love, Love, Simon had successfully reflected the important influence of the school and family in educating and orientating the young generation. That is also the basic mission of the agents of socialization.

The concept of teamwork is also expressed in the movie. We can understand that teamwork is “the collaboration of two or more people to manage impressions jointly. ” Simon’s friends decided to help him find out the identity of Blue by buying him lots of tickets for the Ferris wheel. They were the ones who shared the same worried feeling with Simon when Blue didn’t seem to appear and also the ones who screamed happily when Simon and Bram, who was Blue, finally recognized each other. This is an example of teamwork. Additionally, another concept is stages. It is divided into the front stages and the back stages. Front stages, according to Henslin, is the “place where people give performances. ” In the movie, Simon chose the Christmas day, when his family most happiness to confess his gender. This can be considered as front stage. Henslin clarified back stages as “the places where people rest from their performances, discuss their presentations, and plan future performance. ” For example, after confirming that he’s gay, Simon had spent his whole break in his own room trying to change his performance as a “gay guy”, and lots of time he hided in his room to exchange emails with Blue or think about his situation. Those are the examples of back stages.

Research Methods

After finished watching the movie Love, Simon, it left out in my mind many thoughts about the homosexual love in the society that I really want to know how people think about this issue. Therefore, I will choose the surveys method and the analysis of documents method to research this topic. For the survey methods, I will ask the survey people both closed-ended questions and open-ended questions together with the rapport. I will make a list of questions that related to the topic, then go to the different places to interact with people from diverse ages and races. The ideal places for this survey are the campus, the parks or the companies. I’ll stop by a random group and ask them: “What is your age? Where are you come from? What is your race? Are you a part of the LGBT society? What do you think about the homosexual love? Do you support the same-sex marriage law? If yes, why? If no, why? How do your culture think about the LGBT?” Based on these amounts of information, I can have more ideas about the age and gender and their opinions about the LGBT’s love. The advantage of this method is that I can connect with variety people in different surrounding environments and see how they react with the topic’s questions. This method also helps me understand more about the homosexual people’s situation and share the sympathy with them. The disadvantage of this method is that I can’t reach different answers from the further places except the environment around me, so that my information might be limited. In this case, the analysis of documents method will reduce this risk. For this method, all I need to do is consider as much research data as possible through books, articles or online sources. The benefit of the method is that the comparison and analyzation between documents will broaden my knowledge as well as bring to me a more comprehensive view because it gathers the ideas from all over the world. I can have chance to consider different beliefs and arguments about the homosexuality in different cultures. For example, the Western culture will seems more accept the same-sex love than the Eastern culture. The disadvantage of the analysis of documents method is its lack of the real experiences. The case study method might also be suitable to help clear out this question, but many details of one situation can’t be used for other situations. That’s why the application of this method is not popular. However, every single method contains its specific advantages and disadvantages that we cannot avoid.

Conclusion

The movie Love, Simon has clarified for me the theoretical perspectives of sociology like functionalism and symbolic interactionism, showed me the different sociological imagination as well as the concepts around it. Therefore, I will be able to apply the concepts to understand more about the society around me easier thanks to it. The film, lastly, has points out a significant message that: Everyone in this world deserves to be loved and treated equally without concerning about their gender.

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