Love is All You Need?
By, Ariell Branson
Kim Rocco Shield’s groundbreaking film, Love is All You Need?, asks a simple, yet perplexing question – is love really all a person needs? In a world in which people face persecution for whom they choose to share their lives with, we are often told that love conquers all and that any challenge is surmountable. Shields recognizes that isn’t true, especially for homosexual teenagers. She sheds light on this by explaining, “We are in the middle of a bullying epidemic. 3.2 million school aged children will be bullied each year and 10% will attempt suicide.” Romantic love isn’t all these kids require; what they are in desperate need of is acceptance. This is what inspired Shields, whose self-proclaimed mission is “to use media for social change,” to create the film.
Love is All You Need? takes place in an alternate version of the United States in which being homosexual is the default and heterosexuals are openly persecuted, mocked and referred to as “heteros” or “breeders.” The film follows a star quarterback, Jude Klein, and her secret affair with sports journalist Ryan Morris. The couple is eventually exposed and faces extreme prejudice within their community, especially from priest Rachel Duncan. We are also shown the life of 11-year-old Emily who develops a crush on a male classmate, Ian. By flipping the default gender preference in the film, Shields is able to make it clear to the audience how absurd it is to discriminate against someone because of their romantic feelings for another person. The film is a perfect opportunity for heterosexual viewers to put themselves in the queer community’s shoes and see the emotional challenges that accompany being ostracized for sexual preference.
However, it has been met with a great deal of controversy and regarded by many as “anti-religion.” Shields, who is Catholic, blatantly rejects this classification asserting, “The film isn’t anti-religion, it’s anti- misuse of religion.” In fact, it uses direct quotes from the Westboro Baptist Church, which is widely regarded as a hate group. Shields further elaborates that what truly upsets critics is the fact that it normalizes gay culture, something that many people still find unsettling. This discomfort is part of the cause for debate over educators showing the original short film to their students. Several teachers have faced repercussions (including being fired) for screening it, but Shields has intervened in each instance and gotten the affected teachers cleared and reinstated. She is a staunch advocate for the film being shown to students and thinks that it will help to mitigate bullying. In fact, many students have written her saying that Love is All You Need? changed their lives.
The film is available to stream at http://www.loveisallyouneedthemovie.com/. As the movie is screened in select theatres across the country, half of all proceeds will go towards anti-bullying legislation and another portion will go towards creating a fund to support teachers who face backlash from showing the film. Shields even commented that the first special screening will take place in Topeka, Kansas, across from the Westboro Baptist Church. Love may not be all you need, but in concert with the work advocates like Shields are doing, it can make all the difference in the world.