Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Finally Figured Out Brokeback Mountain

I've been having a lot of fun with this movie. I was rolling on the floor as Craig Ferguson impersonated attempts at gay cowboy movies by actors through the ages (Tom Mix, John Wayne, Clint Eastwood). I laughed as that guy from The Producers did a brief musical of the film on David Letterman's show, not to mention the parody with the grizzly prospectors on Saturday Night Live. I've made my share of jokes, too, as my wife will attest. I tell her I want to go see it, but I want to take the best man from our wedding along. Maybe put a hand on his knee at the right moment...

I was disappointed when I learned that the movie wasn't about Old West cowboys. Inspired, I announced to my wife that I was going to write a screenplay about a couple of amorous cowpokes on a cattle drive in the 1880s and make big bucks. My brother even liked the idea, adding that just because I write the screenplay doesn't mean I have to see the film it becomes. Alas, my wife forbade me, no matter how much it would pay. You can see why I'm the one who manages the finances around here.

While I have enjoyed making fun of Brokeback Mountain, at the same time I was curious about its allure. Surely this movie was about more than just bringing Hollywood out of the closet, so to speak. Rather than watching the movie (sorry, not gonna happen), I read half a dozen reviews. Apparently it's the best love story released this past year regardless of the "controversy."

Today I had an epiphany -- Brokeback Mountain is the ideal chick flick. It's a touching romance that women can cry over, while at the same time guys who don't want to think about two guys doing it have a perfect excuse not to watch it! Even most of us straight guys who aren't anti-gay don't want to actually see two guys going at it. But women, particularly those who are into "important" or "artistic" movies (the type who will go see anything that wins an award, even if it is French with Greek subtitles), won't be able to stay away. Few straight guys want to see romantic, emotional, heartbreaking love stories regardless of the genders involved, so Brokeback Mountain doesn't even try to get us to come to the theater. Brilliant! Straight guys should be begging for movies like this -- send the women off to watch the gay whatever movie (construction workers, cops, the whole range of Village People) so the men can play touch football or engage in some other ambiguously homoerotic male bonding.


Despite my disinterest in romantic stuff noted above, I must say that last night's episode of How I Met Your Mother was pretty darn romantic. And Ashley Williams was pretty darn hot besides. This is one of the few television shows that I admire as a writer. The ultimate was the "urinating in public" episode -- I'm still trying to figure out the thought process of how they threaded those plots together.

UPDATE - 01/31/2006 - While author Annie Proulx was inspired by Wyoming's Bighorn Mountains, it turns out that Brokeback Mountain was actually shot in Alberta. Ugh, there's another reason not to go see it (no offense to Alberta, but I love Wyoming).

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Straight, gay, man or woman, all should see Brokeback Mountain. It is rare these days to be a voyeur to a real love story. It seems to be the last thing on everyone's agenda, including Hollywood. The twist of same sex protagonists is incidental. Although, the heartwrenching relationship between Ennis and Jack is intertwined with the great oppressor...homophobia and hate crimes. Love is a true force of nature, undaunted by circumstance or the times we happen to live in. Open yourself up and see this movie. You might realize why you married your wife...in case you forgot.

Switch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
David Johnsen said...

Spare me. I don't care if it's a love story about a man and woman, two men, or two women, I'm not interested. That was the whole point of my epiphany -- that "the gay thing" is just a convenient excuse not to see a movie that I wouldn't want to see anyway.

Something lost in all the "gay cowboy" talk is that this is basically just another movie about infidelity, right? In that respect, it's no better than The Bridges of Madison County or countless other "love story" movies that show a cavalier attitude toward marriage. Actually, it's worse because since both are men, it also reinforces the stereotype women have that "all men cheat." So that's another reason I don't want to see Brokeback Mountain.

And I haven't forgotten why I married my wife -- so our dog wouldn't be a bastard.

Anonymous said...

"Rather than watching the movie (sorry, not gonna happen)"

Your loss.

David Johnsen said...

Since Switch jumped in between, let me note that my first reply above was to the first "anonymous."

Switch, it would be hilarious if a guy went thinking it was an average western (I'm thinking of my Texas-born father-in-law's jaw dropping as he figures out what's going on). It reminds me of my wife talking about going with a girlfriend to look at porno movies at the video store. She picked up a box and said,"Hey this one has some cute guys..." Then her friend pointed out that they were all guys.

I am a bit interested in the cinematography because I love the West, but I can't think of any movie I'd see just for the scenery.

Switch said...

Crap. Here's that first post back:

I just saw this movie last night. I'll have to say, the concept of the movie is fun to laugh about. (I mean, gay cowboys. Yee-haaw! Where's the indian and the construction worker?) The movie itself is not. Its pretty sad, actually. I'm gay myself, and I think it would be wonderful if everyone went to see it. I hope people will get over their fear and prejudice. I'd like to walk hand-in-hand with a date like straight folks do, without getting heckled or stared at like my hair was on fire. I'd like to marry my partner one day, etc etc.

However, I had the same thought you did. Some straight men will see it, sure. Most guys would only go if chided into it by their wives / girlfriends. Possibly by accident, thinking it was your average western. (?)

I get it though. Suppose a great movie came out with amazing actors, a magnificent storyline and cinematography, about passionate lesbian love. It's not that I don't like lesbians, its just not the first thing I'm going to pick up off the shelf. Not my cup of tea.

Worry not, if you do end up watching Brokeback for any reason, the guys only "do it" once on screen for a few seconds. Enough to get the point across - they don't show much.

Switch said...

Yah, a friend of mine was at the theater, and he told me the older couple sitting in the row in front of him were a bit startled when they found out exactly what kind of 'western' this was.