Author Topic: Misunderstanding Brokeback Mountain  (Read 15605 times)

Offline karind1

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Misunderstanding Brokeback Mountain
« on: Jan 17, 2006, 01:19 AM »
http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=011606D
 
Misunderstanding Brokeback Mountain
 
this is THE MOST interesting take I have read about brokeback mountain which i have seen 10 times already and is my favorite movie of my 58 years.
karin dicker   los angeles
« Last Edit: Feb 04, 2006, 02:15 AM by ethan »

Offline dirtbiker

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great post karin. Thanks!

Offline rabjr1

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Just read it lots of points very wordy.  Jack wasn't homophobic.  The scene where both say they aren't queer is always enacted by us guys after we "got in the clinch" with someone, it is a non-denial denial. We say things we really don't believe just what we think the other person wants to hear.  In the story there is an interesting line when they are getting up the morning "after" but way  BEFORE the denial scene:
      "...without saying anything about it both knew how it would go for the rest of the summer, sheep be damned."
And when Ennsi says it's just a one time thing, well there you are; it wasn't a one time thing they shagged all summer.

Ennis found the love of his life, as sometimes happens, it just happens to be another man NOT necessarily MEN.  He might just be  monogamous with Jack and that he wouldn't think of having sex with another man.  Jack however had to visit the "straight" (?) hustlers in Mexico, why?  As he said he needed it sometimes.  And the place Jack picks up the hustler is definately for such encounters not a random pickup but a place gay men would go to pickup another man and the reason he goes to Mexico is simply: "You don't s**t where you eat".
You would go miles away from your hometown so you won't be spotted by someone that might know you.

I agree about the labeling, neither one of them wanted to label themselves as "queer" they never said "I love you", either, in a conventional way but they said it in so many other ways and LOVE it sure was. 
RAB aka Raoul The Really Rotten

Offline jimnick

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One should not confuse homophobic with closeted.  Two distinctly different positions.

Jim

Offline bnjmn3

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If Brokeback Mountain had really been a love story between two gay men, it would have been much shorter. Both the cowboys, after discovering their sexual attraction to each other, would have simply come out of the closet, moved to San Francisco, opened a boutique that specialized in boots and stirrups and other leather gear, and would have lived happily ever after.

Lee Harris, the Atlanta author really hates gay people..can't you see?
We can't change it. We will have to stand it.

Offline sweetlilg

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If Brokeback Mountain had really been a love story between two gay men, it would have been much shorter. Both the cowboys, after discovering their sexual attraction to each other, would have simply come out of the closet, moved to San Francisco, opened a boutique that specialized in boots and stirrups and other leather gear, and would have lived happily ever after.

Lee Harris, the Atlanta author really hates gay people..can't you see?

he's way too jealous because BBM shattered all these stupid stereotypes!

4 GG wins.. YEEHAAAW!!  ;D  ;D
"Sometimes I miss you SO MUCH I can hardly stand it" - Jack <3

RIP Heath ♥ Heath, I swear...

BrokeBack Mountain is the BEST! It has won the Oscar of my heart!

Offline dirtbiker

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If Brokeback Mountain had really been a love story between two gay men, it would have been much shorter. Both the cowboys, after discovering their sexual attraction to each other, would have simply come out of the closet, moved to San Francisco, opened a boutique that specialized in boots and stirrups and other leather gear, and would have lived happily ever after.

Lee Harris, the Atlanta author really hates gay people..can't you see?

he's way too jealous because BBM shattered all these stupid stereotypes!

4 GG wins.. YEEHAAAW!!  ;D  ;D

I liked his alternate assessment of the movie and agree with most of it, but that crack about the boutique and specializing in leather gear was a bit tasteless...

Offline *Froggy*

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http://www.tcsdaily.com/article.aspx?id=011606D
 
Misunderstanding Brokeback Mountain
 
this is THE MOST interesting take I have read about brokeback mountain which i have seen 10 times already and is my favorite movie of my 58 years.
karin dicker   los angeles

See, well done...you just have to start posting... ;D

x Froggy
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skallywalla

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Thanks, karin!  That WAS one of the best assessments I've seen of the movie...though I thought that Jack became more homosexual as the decades dragged on.  But I think Lee Harris hit the nail on the head in terms of defining the tragedy and pinpointing the poignancy of the movie, and I think he also summed up rather well why this movie has been so critically acclaimed and why it's NOT a "gay love story" or the cutesie, but I think demeaning catch–phrase people have used - "the gay cowboy movie".  I also applaud him for pointing out something I've thought all along:  that it could not have been any other way for Ennis and Jack, and that's why all they had was Brokeback Mountain.  A place to escape from their lives, from the rest of the world, and just BE with each other, be the men they were, and be the love of each others' lives.


Offline jimnick

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Why especially San Francisco?  Maybe because San Franciscans are educated and cultured and peaceful?  Just curious. 

Jim

Offline jackchristopher27

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What the two cowboys of Brokeback Mountain were rebelling against was not being forced into normal marriage by society, but against being forced to define their humanity in accordance with other people’s ideas of what they should call themselves.

Brilliant. This article is amazing.
Like vast clouds of steam from thermal springs in winter the years of things unsaid and now unsayable -- admissions, declarations, shames, guilts, fears -- rose around them. Ennis stood as if heart-shot, face grey and deep-lined, grimacing, eyes screwed shut, fists clenched, legs caving, hit the ground on his knees.

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What the two cowboys of Brokeback Mountain were rebelling against was not being forced into normal marriage by society, but against being forced to define their humanity in accordance with other people’s ideas of what they should call themselves.

Brilliant. This article is amazing.

Agreed  8) This is a very good article.  ;D

Offline ledgend

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hey this movie wasnt homophobic- name me a movie that in the last millennium has moved so many gay men?

Please read my review in Internet reviews- please dont let us look deeply into this film for alternative aspects- this film is THE best GAY film ever and encapsulates every aspect of gay life- lets not nit and pick at the certain aspects that grind certain people but lets celebrate the fact that finally you in the US have a film that you can call your own iconic gay film. We in the UK already have one (see Beautiful Thing) but this surpasses that for the worldwide impact it surely deserves.
« Last Edit: Jan 17, 2006, 09:36 PM by ledgend »

Offline monicita

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I would say the most important thing about the movie is what makes any great movie great: There are many possible interpretations and people feel deeply about these interpretations.

 I have to agree with some of the posters on this thread, though: The article made me feel a bit queasy, because there seems to be a homophobic (or at least gay-phobic) subtext in there somewhere.

I am also a huge fan of Michel Foucault (especially of the stuff he wrote about sexuality: check it out!), but the way the author quotes him makes it look as if Foucault were against people speaking out about their gay identity. Which is totally untrue. In the 80s Foucault gave lots of interviews to gay magazines in Canada and the US. He always stressed that gay culture was a great chance to try out new forms of interaction, of sexuality of ways to connect. And though he may have been closeted before that he never denied his connection with the gay community.

By the way, this is my first posting (if you don't count the introduction). Love the site! And Foucault... And Brokeback Mountain

Monicita
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Offline idlecaptain

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My first post too...and I second that, read Foucault!

Offline bnjmn3

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Lee Harris wrote the above article. From his last paragraph, you can read that he sees this film as propaganda to promote acceptance of gay marriage. He is so clever.  He almost doesn't reveal his intense hatred of gay people and of this movie. Subtly, he belittles BBM constantly as well as gays...two brief examples: He sarcastically suggests it is too bad Ennis or Jack didn't call a gay hotline for help---translation: let's belittle anyone who has asked for helped or discount anyone who volunteers to help gays in crisis--usually suicidal gay teens. Secondly, he always uses the term normal to describe heterosexuals when compared to homosexuals and says that 'gay society' does not support MANLINESS, but only wants effeminate men. There are so many problems with Lee's article. I'll have to go all the way through it and answer his bigotry. Dangerous man...
We can't change it. We will have to stand it.

Offline monicita

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Absolutely true! The man is dangerous. The more I think about the article, the less I like it. And it makes me think of some things I don't like about the BBM discussion (both on this site and on others) , a subtext concerning gay lifestyles. As if people liked BBM specifically because it is not "gay" in an overt sense, because there is no assertive "gayness" in it. As if it were better to be "normal", or what society has taught us is normal, even if you are gay. The idea seems to be not to stand out, not to be different, to be as normal as possible. Loving another man is enough deviation from normality, more would be too much. I think it can not be repeated too often: Be as different, as flamboyant, as "abnormal" as you want and need to be! Don't let yourself be caught up in norms that have been created to serve as "opium for the people" (I know Marx was talking about religion, but in some societies being "normal" IS the religion)!

Nuff said,

Monicita
Love is a many splendoured thing...

Offline bnjmn3

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Thanks Monicita..I am going throughout the article and putting together some comments that reveal what Lee is really up to..there so much to point out--it is taking a while!
We can't change it. We will have to stand it.

Offline jakeofrome

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I agree you can barely call Jack homophobic.
Actor Jake Gyllenhall used to say that is implied in the story that the character he plays is more experienced, and this is not exaclty I agree with. But there is definetly a huge difference in between Jack and Ennis' own relationship with their sexuality.
Also, you can tell that the experience of the BBM summer definetly leaves a mark on both - just look at the way they relate with sex with their girls after that (ennis taking alma from behind - jack being definetly unconfortable in Lureen's car just like a gay guy would be).
"I loved it. Shocking. Surprising. The guy who financed my movie did that too. He's a very mild mannered chap from Minnesota and we'd just screened the latest cut of my film and he asked if I wanted to see it. I was thinking, 'OK, this really square, straight guy,' and he showed me this movie. It's amazing.

"They're really good those boys and they did a great job. It's very brave of them."

Offline Magnificat

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Just read the article... very interesting. Though there are some not so convincing references I think it remains a very good point of view, one we should all think about. I was talking about this two days ago with a friend of mine, just after watching the movie. He is somewhat scared of what we call "gay" society and insisted on the distinction between "gay" (meaning "queer") and "homosexual" (meaning "person attracted to same-sex persons"). Of course I can understand his fears as in our country (Italy) gay people are often associated with ridicule and shallowness. Such an article describes very well this distinction and let us remember that there are dimensions concerning homosexuality that completely differ from "La Cage aux Folles". I cannot say I share my friend's fear but I am not sedate either. Gay people should concern themeselves on personal development and they shouldn't accept being labelled as cows. It does happen though. Let's think about that.

Offline streetskater

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Yeah interesting but in the end I'm not buying most of what he's selling and I'm vaguely curious to know where Lee Harris is "really' coming from--'cause I suspect it's not the objective "academic" vantage point he's  have us believe.
Are we simply to blame a homophobic society for their refusal to accept their gay status.
In a word: YES.  In the exact same way that religion--shoved in from the very earliest age, continues to influence folks long after they think they've divested themselves of it--so too does an essentially homophobic culture and society have profound consequences on everyone's life--for life. 

Offline francis.shim

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I loved this article, because what it boils down to is

  "the individual's struggle to self-define one's place in the scheme of the universe"

So for Jack and Ennis, it is their need to self-determine themselves and their relationship within the harsh environment where they existed.

It was not up to society or even us, the audience, to say, "he is gay" or "he is bi"... it was theirs.  Likewise, the love that they had was only between them.

Peace,
Frank

Offline monicita

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Yeah interesting but in the end I'm not buying most of what he's selling and I'm vaguely curious to know where Lee Harris is "really' coming from--'cause I suspect it's not the objective "academic" vantage point he's  have us believe.
Are we simply to blame a homophobic society for their refusal to accept their gay status.
In a word: YES.  In the exact same way that religion--shoved in from the very earliest age, continues to influence folks long after they think they've divested themselves of it--so too does an essentially homophobic culture and society have profound consequences on everyone's life--for life. 

Very true! I feel exactly the same about the article and what might lie behind it. Concerning being scarred for life by religion, homophobia etc.: The wonderful thing is, that people who have to contend with these issues often turn out to be such admirable human beings.

monicita
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Offline Cowboy Cody

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A few good points on the esoteric, but the crack about the boutique/SF/Jack's homophobia, what a bunch of hog wash.
You were goin' up there to go fishin'....NO SHIT! GIMME SEX!

Offline francis.shim

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Howdy.

I read the article described in the link and although it was meant for a more literary minded audience, I agree with it in spirit. I thought I would share my interpretation here, because in many ways, Annie Proulx' story has affected me deeply and I would appreciate your feedback.  I also read some of the postings here and I feel that some of us may have misunderstood some of what was said in the analysis.  I hope to do this justice.

First, at the risk of putting myself in a vulnerable spot, I have seen the movie once and then read the original short story. I am hard-of-hearing and visually impaired individual, who was born in the 60s on a tropical island's ethnically melting pot, but after childhood emigrated to Canada in the 70s. I also identify myself with being a gay male.  People have called me all kinds of labels, but I have never been comfortable with them (yes, I promise to post something in the My Brokeback Mountain thread, it is just that it is very, very emotional and convoluted... so I hope you guys can wait)

The story "Brokeback Mountain" is a work of fiction, with these fictional characters in a hypothetical situation, but the interactions and their consequences are the messages that the story is portraying... not the characters... as much as we may care for them, they live only for the sake of the narrative and its interpretation.  Once we understand those underlying principles then can we come back to the characters and see them as they really are.

Annie Proulx had indicated that she did a lot of observation and research about homophobia before writing "Brokeback Mountain". She must have done this, because the characters, Jack and Ennis were products of their place and time. They were both uneducated, roughnecked and inexperienced young men in Wyoming (NOTE: this was where a young gay man, Matthew Sheppard, was killed for being outwardly gay) who happen to fall in love with each other, unexpectedly in the 60s. This event is the postulate: What would happen if two stereo-typical macho west-men of Wyoming meet and fall in love?

Jack and Ennis were raised during economically hard times by poor folks with the harsh ideals of the time... ideals that were homophobic. Yet how would these two individuals handle the realization that they were in love, with each other? The only way they knew: "I ain't queer", "Me neither!"... so what's next?

For the story to be as true as fiction can be, it has to take into consideration that Jack and Ennis would only be able to do whatever limited self-determination that they were allowed within the social norms of the time and place... and it was brutal... especially if you are not book-learned. Remember we are dealing with 19 year olds... not high school drop-outs even. That tiny social enclave, Brokeback Mountain, allowed them to deepen their self-examination and the love that existed between them, but once that illusion was stripped from them, as they headed back into their *real Wyoming* to find jobs and whatever society and survival dictates to them, we can see the true tragedy.

Jack and Ennis cannot identify with being anything but the traditional stereo-typical hard-working stoic tough-skinned etc.. etc... fathering roles that their family and peers expected... and what they themselves have always been raised to expect. See, here are the forces at work... the social norms versus self-determination... social norms versus the love between two people. Both Jack and Ennis are trapped in a crucible where neither of them can fully submit to their true love, but must follow the devastatingly tragic journey of the social norm to survive. If they didn't the story would have ended a long time ago.  With this point I agree.

It matters not about what the individuals wanted it was more what society expected... or rather what the individuals thought that society wanted.

So again, in order for us to observe from Jack's and Ennis' eyes the audience has to broach that imaginary line between society and them, for which Annie Proulx provides a forum: Brokeback Mountain. Inside Brokeback Mountain, it was beautiful, loving, caring, easy, natural and it was two people in love.  Now as human beings, we tend to classify and say "Oh, this is gay love"... "Oh, he is gay"... "No, he is bi." and so on, but the truth does not lie with our classification, it lies with how the participants, Jack and Ennis, see themselves. Jack and Ennis in order to survive outside have to say "No, I am not queer", but inside, they love each other so where does that leave us the audience.

In this context, it becomes clear that it is the labels that we have to discard and focus on the only one true thing that survived through the story and that is that Jack and Ennis really did love each other. Calling it gay love would not be what Jack and Ennis care for, they just wanted the ability to love each other without the labels. And this is where the tragedy lies: because just as Jack got killed by homophobic agents in Ennis' eyes... so does their wish that LOVE simply be whatever it can be... boundless and free.

The article is widening how we should view "homophobia"... it is not just about the society saying gay love is deviant... it is about the destructive interference of ANYTHING that is unwanted outside the relationship between two people... and by "unwanted", we mean unwanted by the two people.  Then it takes it one step deeper, it is also about the destructive interference of ANYTHING that is unwanted outside the self-determination of a person... here, by "unwanted" we mean unwanted by that person.  I hope I have written it clearly.

Take it from someone who has had to live with labels all my life... the message is universal. Brokeback Mountain is about love between Jack and Ennis, but it is not about gay, straight or bisexual love.... it is two people who fell in love annd needs our patience and tolerance to simply "let be, let be...".

Peace,
Frank (aka Jack Nasty)

Offline Rod

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Re: Misunderstanding Brokeback Mountain
« Reply #25 on: Feb 04, 2006, 01:30 PM »
Interesting article....people are always surprized when they find out i am a Mo, (hoMO).  I rarely use the term gay, because I think people DO start acting like their "label".  One of the many reasons I loved the film is because they don't give up their dignity as men.  I know this isn't pc, i know people will say i am "self loathing".  But u see what tv and movies have given us, gay men who are neutered...paul lynde, liberace, will and grace, truman capote...etc.  Regular America seems to want gay men to be non sexual, and non threatening because of it.  I think that this movie sort gives "permission" for Mo's to be masculine.  I dont know the per centages but I was thinking that when Oprah said the reason this movie was so great was that there weren't any of the standard sterotypes.  No one knew enough about our culture to tell her that i would think MOST? of us Mo's aren't obvious, we are just regular guys.  Maybe more civilized and obviously having more dimensions than the straight sterotype of "sports, cars, women", but still keeping the inate dignity of men and being homosexual.   Men who are more "gay" are fine, are great, I have nothing at all against them and the way they are gay, it just isnt my style and alot of other people i knw.  I think it is great to see another "sort" as our spokesman. 

JerBear418720

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If Brokeback Mountain had really been a love story between two gay men, it would have been much shorter. Both the cowboys, after discovering their sexual attraction to each other, would have simply come out of the closet, moved to San Francisco, opened a boutique that specialized in boots and stirrups and other leather gear, and would have lived happily ever after.

Lee Harris, the Atlanta author really hates gay people..can't you see?

he's way too jealous because BBM shattered all these stupid stereotypes!

4 GG wins.. YEEHAAAW!!  ;D  ;D

I liked his alternate assessment of the movie and agree with most of it, but that crack about the boutique and specializing in leather gear was a bit tasteless...

C'mon - He KNOWS that this was a screen adaptation of Annie's story.  If Ang, Ossana and McMurty had turned the material into some kind of gay cliche, Annie would have had a f***** stroke.

Offline *Froggy*

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C'mon - He KNOWS that this was a screen adaptation of Annie's story.  If Ang, Ossana and McMurty had turned the material into some kind of gay cliche, Annie would have had a f***** stroke.

hahahahaha! I can't stop laughing...poor Annie indeed! ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D
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