Why The 'Love, Simon' Title Change Makes The Movie Worth Celebrating Even More
Fans of Becky Albertalli's young adult novel Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda were ecstatic when it was announced a few years ago that the book would be going to the big screen. But they were confused when the title for the film was announced as Love, Simon. The change might sound arbitrary, but ask director Greg Berlanti why the Love, Simon title change was necessary, and he'll give you one simple answer: it's about love. Well that, and because it's easier to say than Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda.
"We had no title really throughout production — we were just Simon Vs., I think, for awhile," Berlanti says during a recent visit to Bustle's New York City offices. The director explains that over the course of production and post-productions, the powers that be played around with various titles, ones that the director says were easier to spread through word of mouth. "I knew that they wanted to make the title easier to say, so that when you say what are you doing Friday night... you can say something short and move onto other subjects," he says with a laugh. It's true — even die hard fans of the novel have to admit that Love, Simon is both easier to say and to hashtag than the original name.
Marketing aside, Berlanti says he came to see the title's simplicity as reflective of the love that is at the core of the film. "I think when Love Simon first came up, people thought, 'Well is that too soft because it’s got love in the title?' And... as people watched the movie, it became more apparent that there are a lot of things in the film that on the surface you think are maybe too light or too soft," Berlanti explains. "And then you realize how vital they are, how simple it is, to tell your kid after they come out, 'I still love you.'"
As the director says, the key to the title Love, Simon is that it's telling of what some people still struggle with when it comes to accepting non-heternormative relationships. And, to Berlanti, that simplicity makes it all the more impactful. "It just seems like, oh, it’s so obvious, but really, you [see] how resonant it is actually too, and why it’s so important."
Important, indeed. Love, Simon, a mainstream movie about a gay teenager coming of age, is both unique and groundbreaking. High school romances are a frequent theme in movies, and LGBTQ+ love stories are becoming more common as well, but romances about gay teens are rarely seen in film. For decades, the overwhelming saturation of heteronormative love stories in movies have helped perpetuate a culture of hate and misunderstanding towards LGBT relationships. Love, Simon, with the sentiment behind its new title, could be life-changing for countless young people.
The Love, Simon title change also has the potential to help normalize gay relationships on screen for people of any age. By changing the title from Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, the film emphasizes the fact that the movie is first and foremost a love story. "With Love, Simon, Fox is telling you that a massive company like them is willing to bet — is betting — on this to be a blockbuster hit," wrote blogger Shelumiel Delos Santos for Epic Reads. "Which is in turn telling you, if you're queer, that you get to have a narrative. That you crushing on another boy is valid."
By putting the love story front and center and changing the title, Love, Simon presents itself as a film just like every other teenage romance movie — if one with the power to change the lives of its viewers.
Additional reporting by Rachel Simon