Thursday, December 29, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

If you have not seen the film, Brokeback Mountain, please do not read--this post contains a spoiler....

I was part of the sold out crowd at Upstate Films which saw Brokeback Mountain last night. And, for all the hype it is getting--that it is ground breaking, the first romantic film featuring two cowboys (read:real men)--I came away from the film saddened, and not too sure that heterosexuals who viewed the film were any more enlightened or moved to support gay and lesbian equal rights. Oh, the film does give viewers a wider range of masculinity and sexuality--but not too wide: the same sex sex is almost animalistic--with very little tenderness.
First, Heath Ledger (as Ennis de Val) portrayed internalized homophobia perfectly. What a sad life he leads. And, the last film shot is of the shirts hanging on his closet door, with the Wyoming landscape seen through the trailer window on the righthand side of the screen, says it all: a closeted cowboy lives a poor and pathetic life. Jake Gyllenhaal (as Jack Twist--hmmm, perhaps shortened from:twisted?) receives the ultimate punishment of a gay man who enjoys forbidden love.
These themes--the sad and pathetic life of being closeted or being killed for being gay --do not make the case for gay and lesbian equal rights. I am reminded of all the films and television plots that if they featured lesbians, up until the advent of The L-Word, had the lesbian character being portrayed as deranged, or evil, and punished (killed) for being outside the heterosexual norm--from The Children's Hour to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
The film for all its pretense at transgressing the norms of masculinity and sexuality, just re-enforces the norm. If only Ennis could have overcome his homophobia so that he and Jack could live Jack's fantasy--now, that would be transgressive!

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