Wednesday, May 16, 2007

brokeback mountains out of molehills

This post might seem a bit dated by now, but I randomly came across this article in the San Francisco Chronicle the other day and it made me think. As the article exemplifies, it has become common for people to assume that males who do not want to watch the movie Brokeback Mountain are homophobic or "insecure". This is both unfair and erroneous. Has it never occurred to people like Mr. Hartlaub (the author of the piece) that there may be other reasons for some males not wanting to watch the movie than the mere fact that it has a few gay sex scenes?

Think about it. It is a 134-minute-long "tender, complex" love story directed by Ang Lee and based on an Annie Proulx story about cowboys. Now I know three things about my taste in movies: (1) tender, complex love stories, especially 134-minute-long ones, are generally insufferable (see Remains of the Day- enough said); (2) The last movie Ang Lee made was The Hulk; and (3) The Shipping News, the only other movie based on an Annie Proulx work, was boring, meandering, and pointless. Plus, I can’t even pronounce her name. All in all, I would be a complete idiot if I didn’t learn from my mistakes and still watched Brokeback Mountain, when it is a composite of all the types of movies that I just don’t enjoy.

But Brokeback Mountain isn't just a movie, it's a "phenomenon". And that is the genius of it. Making a movie seem more than what it is is a brilliant marketing tool, because it ensures that even people outside your target market will watch it in droves. Yes, many people watched Brokeback Mountain because they like movies like it. But we all know people who watched it because they felt they had to - to show themselves to be "open-minded" or whatever. That is absurd. I shouldn’t have to watch movies to be proving shit to anyone.

And it has nothing to do with the sex scenes. I admit, I (a heterosexual male) am likely to be a bit squeamish about them - I can’t help it. But I was also squeamish about the scene in American History X in which Ed Norton jams a man's head (teeth first) into the curb with his foot. I still half-close my eyes at that scene. Yet, I consider it to be a fantastic film. And what about the scene in Pulp Fiction where Bruce Willis and Ving Rhames are kidnapped, strapped up, and raped by rednecks? As far as I am concerned, that is a far more disconcerting (albeit less explicit) depiction of gay sex. Yet, there are tons of guys (myself included) who would rather watch Pulp Fiction than Brokeback Mountain.

So if you tell me, Mr. Hartlaub, that Brokeback Mountain isn’t just a gay movie, then you should be able to accept that I may still not want to watch it, for reasons other than its depictions of gay men. The fact that you are so quick to judge me for my decision says more about your insecurities than it does about mine.


billu said...

I would like to say that I do not agree with you. I WEEPED during BBM (not wept). WTF.

billu said...

WTF man.