Borgman, D. (2000, February). A discussion of the movie, “Show Me Love.” S. Hamilton, MA: Center for Youth Studies.
The Swedish movie, “Show Me Love,” is about teenage emotions and gender issues-and about how communities may respond to what they see as social deviance. It proved immensely popular when it first appeared-competing well with “Titanic” in Sweden. Written and directed by Lukas Moodysson, the movie picks up on two girls at opposite poles of the secondary school spectrum.
Elin (Alexandra Dahlstrom) is blond, “built,” and bored. She would be the choice date of every boy in school. In contrast, brunette, bookish, and boyish Agnes (Rebecca Liljeberg) is scorned and suspected of being a lesbian.
The movie picks up on the rough edges of youth culture and its relationships-particularly in a small town such as Amal, where the movie is set. Here, as in many places, teenage boredom runs rampant; kids have little to do but get drunk and spit at cars. Bullying, taunting, and meanness can flourish in such places.
From her social isolation, Agnes steals glances at Elin and describes her fantasies on a home computer. At a party friends dare her with money to kiss Elin-and she does. Truth that this was all a dare hurts Elin, but Anges is more painfully and deeply threatened. She has gone beyond play. Agnes realizes she is struggling with her own sexual identity. In the town of Amal, homosexuality is considered a disease.
Newsweek writer David Ansen gives his impression of the film [(1999, October 18). Newsweek, p. 78)]:
Unlike most teen movies, which are designed to flatter their audience, ‘Show Me Love’ acknowledges how mean and nasty teenage girls can be…This film doesn’t need false melodramatics to achieve its power. With honesty, charm, and an uncanny sympathy for all its characters, it takes us deep inside the awkward and exhilarating experiences of first love. It’s no mystery why the Swedes took this movie to their hearts.
Questions for Reflection and Discussion
- If you have seen this movie, did you like it? Why or why not? If you haven’t seen it, do you think you would like to see it? Why or why not?
- Do movies and the popular arts have a responsibility to challenge us to think about the issues of our times?
- What different approaches might communities and societies take to the matter of gay (or lesbian) teenagers and their loves?
- Can lesbian tendencies be fostered by family issues and peer rejection-as well as other issues?
- Can teenagers whose sexual identities and preferences are not set have homosexual experiences?
- What do you see as a helpful role for parents, teachers, counselors, and religious leaders in regards to gay teens?
- In many or most places of this world, gay teens are a social reality.
- Social response to gay teens varies-from death to social approbation to acceptance.
- In the U.S. and some other countries, gay teens have a higher suicide rate than any other group.
- An important question is whether or not gay teens can be accepted even by those who do not accept the gay life style generally.
- Young people going through very difficult identity issues deserve our care and support.
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