Lukas Moodysson’s 1998 film Show Me Love is the Swedish representation of the American teen film genra.  The film depicts the complacent, boring world of youth culture in Amal, Sweden.  Scott Henderson explains the traditional themes present in Show me Love that originated in American teen films as, “[taking] place against familiar teen film locales and scenarios, such as home, and teen parties, and the actions accompanied by a sound track of popular songs,” in his essay Youth, Sexuality and the Nation (pg 263).  Henderson furthers his arguments by claiming the film creates its distinction with the sexuality of the two main characters, Agnes and Elin.  Henderson claims that the film “opens up the possibility of breaking from the mass-mediated culture which provides the social norms for a city like Amal,” (pg 269).  However, I believe the opposite is true. While Henderson argues “the hegemonic discourse of globalization is challenged as the norms of youth depiction are discarded, and a ‘queer’ subjectivity is permitted to emerge,” the thematic boredom and complacency felt by the character of Elin suggests she is only appearing to be a lesbian to create excitement in her own life (pg 269).

Looking at the character of Elin throughout the film, she never appears happy.  Her life is one of complacency and extreme boredom, which is exemplified in a typical melodramatic teenage fashion.  During the first lunch scene where Elin is eating with her friends, she complains about not wanting to go to Christian’s party.  Her friend asks if she is on her period because she is always irritable.  Elin counters by stating she wants to go to a rave or mug someone.  Her friends tell her that she’s crazy to which Elin screams that everyone is so boring and flops onto the table.  Elin proclaims that everything is so boring and she hates her life.  The feeling of boredom is echoed in her response to Johan announcing that he likes her. Jessica, Elin’s sister, continually reminds her that Johan is a nice guy, a sweet guy and too good for Elin.  She is not attracted to Johan and only dates him in an attempt to not have her private, exciting life with Agnes discovered.  However, in examining her private, exciting life with Agnes, the audience is cued in to realize that Elin is only acting as a lesbian to create the feeling of excitement, not because she is necessarily attracted to women.  For example, Elin first kisses Agnes as a bet with her sister (though she does venture back to apologize), she kisses Agnes a second time while in the presence of an older man (perhaps addressing the male fantasy of being with two women), and only announces her relationship with Agnes because she has no other escape.  Never does Elin proclaim that she likes women or is attracted to women, which Agnes does from the beginning of the film.  The only time the audience is alerted to Elin’s desires for Agnes is when she begins to look at Agnes’ school photo, which is not an example of the lesbian gaze as Henderson suggests, but a representation of Elin looking for excitement in her boring life in Amal.  The excitement that Elin has been craving is achieved in the final line of the film when she announces, “this is my new girlfriend…we’re going to go fuck.”

Henderson’s analysis of Show Me Love as a film which “opens up the possibility of breaking from the mass-mediated culture which provides the social norms for a city like Amal” is disgraceful to the queer culture.  While his interpretation of the film addressing the lesbian gaze in a predominantly male world is correct, the lesbian gaze is from the perspective of Agnes alone.  Elin is only acting as a lesbian for attention and excitement in her boring, complacent world.  Such a film only reinforces a patriarchal status as the lesbian identity. Henderson’s ideal is not fully realized and, once again, queer culture is represented as a minority.

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