On a recent Friday night "date night" with my wife, we squirmed through the trailer of "Brokeback Mountain." Directed by Ang Lee, the movie is further evidence that we, as a culture, are plummeting down a slippery slope, having sacrificed morality on the altar of civil rights. In most circles, it's being called the "Gay Cowboy Movie." It's a romantic tale of two male cowboys who meet and fall in love while working together as sheep ranch hands near Wyoming's Brokeback Mountain in the summer of 1961. The film is already being pumped as one of the years' best and is almost guaranteed to garner lots of critical acclaim and awards.
But how audiences receive it, is another story.
As much as the societal gatekeepers of "compassion" and "sensitivity" attempt to frame homosexuality as a viable alternative lifestyle, the majority of Americans still view it for what it is: abnormal. But the lines are clearly drawn and it appears "Brokeback Mountain" will engender another round of skirmishes.
Jared, with Thinklings, posted a brief commentary on the movie at the WorldMag Blog which ballooned into 120 plus comments before he pulled the plug. Most of the contributors were avowedly supportive of homosexuality and took Jared to task. Apparently, the post was picked up on Google News and quickly spread to gay sex blogs, who issued marching orders to their troops. The comments range from intelligent and courteous, to crude and hateful.
It appears a line of sorts is being drawn with this movie. To some folks, to see the film and enjoy it, is the equivalent of condoning homosexuality. To not see the film and/or not like it, is homophobic. In other words, your stance toward the movie is indicative of your stance toward same gender sex. Is this rationale valid?
Of course we must make a distinction between the aesthetics of the movie and its message. I can freely admit Elton John is a good songwriter without condoning his sexual preference. To judge objectively, we must separate art from the artist. Likewise, there's probably some very good things about "Brokeback Mountain." Good cinematography, direction, dialogue, acting, etc. However, I will not see the film because the subject matter is repulsive. To me, there is no redemptive value in a film that legitimates homosexuality. Now it could be argued that the story is about real people struggling with real emotional issues. Point taken. Nevertheless, we cannot separate the film from its culture.
The arts have always influenced and been influenced by the cultural climate of their times. If the response to Jared's piece is any indication, our culture remains at an important juncture. Even if "Brokeback Mountain" is neutral toward homosexuality, the fact that its centerpiece is two gay men, played by two prominent actors, directed by an acclaimed director, in a mainstream film, with a big budget, raises the stakes. At the very least, films like "Brokeback Mountain" tend to "normalize" the homosexual lifestyle. But coalitions of gays and lesbians see it as much more. They have planted a flag here and will make a stand.
So get ready for the gushing reviews, the year end awards and the touting of a new era for "civil" (i.e., homosexual) rights. Nevertheless, I ain't seeing it. Call me homophobic, gay basher or censor. I just happen to believe that no amount of aesthetics -- great cinematography, direction, acting or storytelling -- can make homosexuality what it is not: normal.