I sit watching the movie “Akron” again for the second time in the last 24 hours. Last night was the first time I watched it and it felt right to put it back on. It wasn’t a fantastic movie, I’ll admit, but I appreciated it for its deviance from traditional LGBT media.
The main characters, Benny and Christopher, are both openly gay. The story spends no time explaining questions about their sexuality and no conflict arises due to their sexualities. They don’t experience discrimination or difficulties while they kiss in public or hold hands.
Often times, LGBT movies focus solely on the character sexuality and only depict the difficulties they experience due to their sexuality. While looking for background information on “Akron”, I found a post by Tumblr user “navigaero”, who classified three kinds of LGBT movies:
“Tier 1 – the conflict comes directly from the fact that the protagonist is gay and is struggling with coming out to their friends and family (example: Love, Simon)
Tier 2 – while some conflict arises due to the fact that the protagonist is gay, most of it comes from some other problem in the story; usually, the protagonist has already come out before the story starts (example: The Song of Achilles)
Tier 3 – absolutely none of the conflict comes from the fact that the protagonist is gay; while the protagonist’s sexual orientation isn’t ignored, none of it contributes to any of the conflict in the story (example: Akron)”
These classifications, while simplistic, can help us evaluate queer media.
A review I read on “Akron” condemned the movie for oversimplifying the day-to-day life of queer people. By avoiding conflicts due to character sexuality, it avoided confronting many of the very real issues that queer people face today.
But I don’t think all LGBT movies need to tackle social rights issues or conflicts due to identity. While many of us are still exploring our identity and experience difficulties in our daily lives, it’s okay for media to focus on other topics. In “Akron”, honesty and family support were more relevant topics. And that’s okay.
We need a variety of LGBT media and “Akron” is part of that.
Another review I read, classified the movie as fluff – being light and pleasant, but of no deeper value. While the first half of the movie was very “happy-go-lucky”, the movie explored questions about forgiveness and honesty. In focusing on these, it neglected other topics like hispanic representation.
I don’t want to come across as ignoring deeper society issues – we have a lot of media on social problems – but sometimes I just want to watch a “happy-go-lucky” queer movie. When I’m feeling blue, I flip on movies like “Jongens (Boys)” or “Shelter” because I don’t always want to confront big social issues. I want to watch two dudes being romantic and not have to worry about their sexuality.
There’ll probably be a post to follow. Hope y’all had a great weekend!