Cowboy sex

Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain is a work of art—a lean, spare, unsentimental film suffused with loneliness and longing. That being said, I think the American public will ignore this plaintive love story. Though the Wyoming landscape is gorgeous to look upon (cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto deserves an award from someone), the film’s episodic structure and the lack of big, sweeping emotional moments (i.e. MAINSTREAM) will limit the film’s appeal. Admittedly, I walked away from the screening feeling a bit let down. I guess I wanted the Gay Gone With the Wind everyone’s been hyping. I wanted to feel emotionally drained. Such expectations, however, are not fair. The film is certainly full of big moments and genuine human conflict and there are well-earned laughs throughout. Still, it is far from histrionic and the nature of the story of these two men preclude the kind of fireworks I was expecting. Instead, Brokeback Mountain is a quiet and contemplative film fueled by passive aggression, self-loathing, fear and sadness. I have been haunted by it for the last dozen hours or so—I’m in a melancholy mood today—and such a response is due to the filmmakers deep respect for their source material as well as the story’s contentious subject matter not to mention the heart-wrenching performances of Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and a memorable supporting turn by “Freaks and Geeks” alum Linda Cardellini.

41 thoughts on “Cowboy sex”

  1. Still thinking about this film . . . and the one reference point I can offer up is Peter Bogdonavich’s The Last Picture Show (one of my all-time favorites). And, of course, both films have Larry McMurtry in common. That being said, The Last Picture Show offers a much larger canvas for audiences to engage while Brokeback Mountain remains focused on two characters. The supporting characters don’t receive the same amount of attention and care as they did in the Bogdonavich film (which is much more of an ensemble drama than Lee’s film). The question is . . . would The Last Picture Show sell tickets in 2005?

  2. we hope to see brokeback mountain soon–though it hasn’t arrived in boulder yet. will reserve substantive comment till then. however, i am surprised that you think this film will be ignored by the mainstream. it is winning all the usual oscar precursor awards. a nomination will be enough to get it a mainstream audience, a major win will make it a box-office success.

  3. I hope people will go see it but it is truly an “art film.” I project it will make little more than 40 million (a tidy sum but not an authoritative one).

  4. isn’t $40 million a lot of money for a non-blockbuster to make? but i think the content rather than the form may prove to be the barrier for mainstream audience anyway. checking the box-office numbers, i see that boys don’t cry only made about $11.5 million domestically, despite swank’s oscar (though it made quite a bit more worldwide). however, i don’t know if it had the kind of overall oscar buzz going for it the way this film does.

    time will tell, i suppose.

  5. Well, I didn’t like this. I will post more coherently later, but I was frustrated by the tone of the film and its take on a story I found to be exemplary in its reinvention of Western cliches and lingo.

    In brief:
    –The story worked because the protagonists didn’t realize they were in a Douglas Sirk film; Lee’s movie, however, kind of wants to be a Douglas Sirk film, even as it incorporates some of Proulx’s amazingly-pungent and idiosyncratic dialogue.

    –I did find it too sentimental; I blame Lee, partly, and Gyllenhaal partly. But I also blame the fidelity to the story’s basic structure. What works on the page is the rigorously unsentimental and almost-absurdist reiteration of the “laconic” Western dialogue. Substituting rich images for the prose inflates the story to proportions that I found sentimental.

    –Films that jump from era to era and do so by a rough shorthand semiotics of sideburns, wallpaper, and Trans Ams rarely work the way they’re supposed to. Instead of the passing of time or a sense of deep history, I see the packaging. (It’s the Everybody’s All-American dilemma, wherein new hairstyles just make the audience laugh.)

    –There are a couple scenes that work perfectly: Ledger accosted by his ex-wife in the kitchen about his “fishing trips” — the confrontation is tightly-wound and unexpected; its repressions and bubbling-up emotions pack a hell of a wallop. (It’s one of ONLY two scenes where a woman gets to do much of anything except fill in the blanks around men. The other was:) I also liked when Ledger visited Gyllenhaal’s parents–the underplaying of the mother, signalling so much emotion with a hand on the shoulder, a sidelong look at her son’s “friend”…. if the whole film had had half the subtlety and resonance of these two scenes, it’d have been a masterpiece.

    But like The Hulk, I think the filmmaker’s deep abiding intent on stories about failed intimacy undercut his willingness to engage with the competing demands of the genre. (By contrast, he gets it just right in Ride with the Devil and Crouching Tiger.)

    More later, but I’ll let Jeff rip back at this. Other folks?

  6. Didn’t I say the American public wasn’t going to like this film? First, while the film (particularly Ledger’s performance) has stuck with me all week; I can’t necessarily disagree with Mike’s responses. I didn’t read Proulx’ story so I didn’t bring that into the screening with me. I said the film was unsentimental but I should probably qualify that statement. Any film that attempts to record a tragic love story is going to have its big sentimental moments. I was expecting my emotions to be jerked around a lot more by this film than it did. The most sentimental scene in the film is Ennis’ visit to Jack’s parents’ home (and the money shot in that scene did not work for me at all–thank god the film didn’t end there as the painfully sad scene between Del Mar and his daughter was nice and understated). The “sideburn semiotics” remark is also on target–the film is frustratingly episodic. I liked Gyllenhaal’s work in this film but nobody on that screen “ages” convincingly and Jake can’t keep up with Ledger so his performance seems more off-balance . . . more clearly the work of a youthful actor (he is much stronger in the first half). I was also continually aware of the make-up effects to age the actors and that annoyed me. I think the Douglas Sirk reference is too easy, and I’ve seen a handful of his films and, beyond subtext, I can’t make the connection (invitation for Mike to educate me on all the Sirk films I haven’t seen). BBM is more like George Stevens or Nicholas Ray or John Ford being forced to film a Sirk script (well, truth be told, a Todd Haynes script). Finally, there are so many plot holes that continue to frustrate me (for example, I’m still not sure why these two hooked up in the first place . . . Lee does not stage their growing desire for each other as much as he allows the audience to do their own projecting onto the characters and that strikes me as a bit lazy). It is far from perfect but BBM struck me as much more of an art film than Hollywood’s holiday blockbuster/Oscar extravaganza. All this being said, the film’s powerful examination of loneliness, loss and fear worked for me. It wasn’t perfect but I was moved by it and look forward to a second viewing to sort through my own take on the film’s strengths and weaknesses.

    Arnab, I lived in Boulder and went to the Mayan all the time. Don’t be such a wuss.

  7. Am I representative of the American public? It’s about time.

    Sirk reference defended: the Sirk films I kind of know have characters who repress their deep, intensive desires for “good” reasons; the music swells around them, there are plenty of occasions for precisely-composed close-ups of them repressing (while eyes fill to the brim with those emotions). In a Sirk film, every emotion threatens to bust out of every orifice, but gets (mostly) bottled in–emerging around the actors in soundtrack, framing, a rich art production background.

    In BBM, Ledger’s repressions are exactly those of the laconic, tactiturn Western hero–the guy can barely bring himself to say seven words to his daughter at film’s end (and, yeah, that was a good scene). Proulx’s story–and in the film Ledger’s performance–repositions that Sirk-ian faux-repression in the context of Western manliness. It is a dazzling performance, for that author and for that actor.

    But I think Gyllenhaal would be quite comfortable palling around with Rock Hudson and Robert Stack; he isn’t a tight-lipped guy’s guy, riding the range, he’s a glorious romantic trapped by circumstance in silences and long aching gazes. That’s Sirk. I found the discrepancies between Ledger’s and Gyllenhaal’s performances to be more than the by-product of different abilities–I think they were playing different kinds of films.

    And, again, Lee has the difficult job of taking “natural imagery” which in the story is resolutely under-written OR defiantly, almost surreally figurative, and using it as deep naturalized background. That naturalizes the emotions, the actions–it makes the background almost an extension of the unexpressed emotions and passions… and thus those feelings are heightened, highlighted… when what really works in Ledger’s performance, in a few key scenes, in the dialogue cribbed from the Proulx story is the minimizing of such emotions, the condensation of such rich signifiers into a few stray words. That’s not Sirk.

    (Your counter-reference to Ford and Ray makes sense to me, too. They are also bad models for capturing the story’s tone; Hud and Last Picture Show are far better models to follow. And, yeah, both are McMurtry texts… so what happened here? Again, I think it’s Lee’s sense of purpose and tone that steers some of the actors and much of the film awry for me.)

  8. I’m not sure the music swells in BBM but I know what you mean by Sirk’s characters (and I think your take on Gyllenhaal to be a savvy one). . . that’s why I thought the reference was a little too easy (so’s the John Ford). The Sirk films I remember, I remember due to the way he transforms melodrama into high modernist style through the use of composition, light, color, and mise-en-scene. Perhaps the first part of BBM follows this model but the latter two-thirds of the film takes place in grungy, gritty, sparse, pre-fabricated spaces so that the our memory of the Wyoming landscape becomes as much a landscape of desire as anything else (I will have to look again but I don’t remember the “fishing trips” to Brokeback being as majestically filmed as that opening section). It’s really all we and the characters have.

    Anyway, that being said . . . I’m pleased you have been to the theatre not one, but two, and maybe even three times in one weekend. That is a good sign.

  9. Twice this weekend. And once last weekend. And I have hopes for more visits in the next couple weeks, before we head to Ireland.

    What films–either out now or coming soon–do people have on their do-not-miss list?

    I may yet get to see Squid and, and I definitely want to see Breakfast on Pluto and Munich. And if I’m able to, I may get out to see The Ringer…..

  10. BBM got to miami this week (last friday) in the south beach theater, and i finally saw it with li’l pony on tuesday, just after we TURNED IN OUR GRADES!!!! i hadn’t read jeff’s and reynolds’ excellent discussion on it because i didn’t want it to give away anything at all. but i read it yesterday and, since i felt i had nothing to contribute to it (i haven’t see any of the movies they mention!), i was momentarily stymied in my desire to write about BBM. i’m getting out of that impasse by writing a new thing altogether.

    i’m happy i didn’t read annie proulx’s short story before watching the movie, because i think the movie does a few of the thing reynold claims the story does better, and this way i feel i can give this excellent movie its due (or, as my students would say, it’s do). i feel, for instance, that ang lee does play with genre in a rather cool way. the first sequence is a great self-conscious example of this. jack twist and ennis del mar are outside the trailer of their future employer. maybe because they know they’ll end up working together, or because they think they’ll be competing for the same job, or because that’s the way cowboys are, they eye each other only sideways and don’t say a thing. in a comic take on the malboro man, they both smoke, keep their hats crammed down on their foreheads, lean on things (jack his own pickup truck). the shot emphasizes their long jeans-clad legs, their high-heeled boots. jack reclines sideways on the truck, his face in his hand, languidly. as calvin klein meets marlboro, desire meets manliness. the iconic take on these themes is good. lee stakes out his territory. he is about to tell us a cowboy love story — between the cowboy themselves. again, i don’t know how proulx does it, but the cowboy love story resides preeminently on the silver screen, so i think, whatever proulx did, lee has to do it anew, originally. he self-consciously trailblazes.

    jeff is right, this is a very unsentimental love story. the way we measure sentimentality is by comparison, and any doomed romance played at a cineplex would be waaaaay more sentimental than this. like jeff, i was ready to cry a lot. but i didn’t cry almost at all, just towards the end, in the great scene at jack’s parents’ house; which, in fact, is the only truly sentimental scene in the whole movie. in this sense, the previews are vastly misleading.

    okay, i have a confession to make. being north-italian, i constantly have the alps in mind, so the american mountains leave me almost always cold. but i have to say that, even taking this into account, i really don’t think ang lee does a lot to glorify the landscape. there’s a little bit of it at the beginning, in the first third of the movie, but the romanticization is more about the cowboy life than about the landscape, hence the lovely shots of sheep. that it is sheep instead of cows is another of lee’s self-consciously comic demystifications. as jack and ennis return to brokeback mountain, the landscape recedes and the focus is entirely on the two men. this is a movie with a lot of closeups. (closeups, i think, are never a good idea when filming characters that age through such a long period of time, because inevitably the viewer will want to study the aging makeup. the reason why aging is never good in the movies is that what really gives people’s age away is not their skin but their eyes. accumulation of life makes eyes both deeper and less clear, and it’s hard to do this with makeup).


    i liked what lee did with the women characters. all of them seem to know. some of the men know, too, but the women’s knowledge is never tinted with contempt — except maybe when ennis’s wife blows out at him later on, but by then he’s a loser and she’s remarried and pregnant, so she has standing to kick those who are lower on the totem pole. much of the movie is about social positioning, so i think lee is always conscious of where his characters are talking from. that’s why when jack put his father-in-law in his place at thanksgiving dinner it is so exhilariting and meaningful. (when he did sense and sensibility, many critics said lee, being chinese, could really grasp the nuances of the english class system. he seems to have gotten the american “class” system pretty darn well, too).

    the movie becomes sparer and sparer as it progresses. little music (when ennis finds the shirts the orchestra plays the most tenuous of musical emphases), little color, close shots, no furniture (ennis’ daughter explicitly remarks on the furniture). the sparest moment is when ennis learns of jack’s death: totally anticlimactic.

  11. just got back from the film (two in two days for us, and there’s 3 from netflix at home). will post at length later, but just wanted to say i quite liked it. and the further i get from it (it has been less than 30 minutes) the more i like it.

  12. How do y’all see so many movies? I’m still catching up on Hitchcock and yesterday I had to turn off an episode of King of Queens because my attention wandered too much..are you some sort of SUPER BEINGS??

  13. to quote Ralph Kramden, Har Har Hardee Har Har. We have movie theaters here too…but they all play the same five movies. and the problem isn’t so much availability as my shattered attention span and the sense that every movie I see is 20 minutes too long. The Netflix envelopes stare at me with contempt: “When are you going to watch the damn thing already? You telling me you don’t have 100 minutes in your empty schedule? Try to cut down on the 3 hours it takes you to eat breakfast and drink a cup of coffee!!”

    I hate when they speak to me like that, and then their little red envelopes get torn so it’s hard to put the little holder back in and then sometimes you have to send them back in a different envelope—it’s maddening!

    there, I’m insane, are you happy now?, miss cosmopolitan movie goer, miss walking urban culture??

  14. Re: the evolving hairstyles in Brokeback Mountain.

    Please, people!
    Ang had to offer up something for us feygeles to make up for the discomfitting lack of lubrication in the puptent scenes. I found his solution ingenious. HAIR!!!!

    I think some of you teach film and history or both and so let me give you (you’re welcome) this link to suggest some ways in which you can use the film in your history classe”s:

  15. michael: calm down.

    li’l pony: excellent point about the hair. this is, for you folks who don’t know the pony, a classic pony maneuver. you see, when we watched the movie together the pony was seriously put off by the hair. being the pony, however, he has found a way to reclaim the hair and even love it! god bless the pony.

  16. I’m with the pony when it comes to hair. My daughter has a bunch of these My Little Ponies (plastic, neon and pastel colored toys which I abhor), and their hair is a disaster. That being said, what bothered me about Anne Hathaway’s character in BBM was how much it was shaped by her hair and make-up. She was given nothing to do and that’s too bad. I did like her scene when she talks to Ennis on the phone toward the end. Speaking of, (spoiler alert) where do various folks stand on the intercut scene of Jack supposedly being beaten to death instead of his wife’s story that he died in a freak car accident. I read that moment as Ennis’ worst fears taking over; that it was his internal “vision” of Jack’s death based on his childhood experience as opposed to the “real” story behind Hathaway’s telephone lie. I’ve seen critics refer to Jack’s death AND to Jack’s murder, but my feeling is that there is a great deal of ambiguity and the filmmakers wanted to keep it that way. Has anyone read the short story?

  17. In the movie, the close-up on Anne Hathaway’s mouth suggested to me that she was lying about the circumstances of Jack’s death. But I totally see the point about those intercut scenes being Ennis’s worst fears playing themselves out in his head (as was also suggested to me by Gio).

    I’ve read the story, and it is also ambiguous on this point. While Lureen is describing Jack’s death, we read: “No, [Ennis] thought, they got him with the tire iron.” Later, when Ennis is visiting Jack’s parents, he sees the severity of Mr. and Mrs. Twist. Suddenly, Ennis up and concludes: “So now he knew it had been the tire iron.” It’s unclear whether we are supposed to trust Ennis’s sense of how things work over there, or if we are supposed to be struck by the baselessness of his certainty.

    People have said to me in conversation that the film is undeniably ambiguous and so the ambiguity must be the point; I guess this means that the ambiguity mimics the blurring, discombobulating effect of the INTENSITY of Ennis’s affection for Jack AND of his fear of being gay-bashed.

    And as much as I like ambiguity, I think it’s often too easy. 9 times out of 10 (I’ve counted) the conclusion that there is undeniable ambiguity is actually a cover for something certainly sexual. I think that Jack definitely did not have an accident by the side of the road, but someone found out about his affair with that guy with the talkative wife.

    [Oh wait … did I say “gay-bashing”? That’s ahistorical! I should have said: “killed for loving a man … in the butt”]

  18. the pony is always right. the strength of his conviction makes him so. long live the pony.

    [but, pony, “affection”? “butt”? what’s wrong with love (LOVE!!!!!) and ass?]

  19. At last! I have seen this film. First, a little but distribution 101 courtesy of a useful review by Sara Miller in Charleston’s City Paper. Lee’s Brokeback Mountain, so we are told, was designated as an “E” film. This means that it must play through four other markets before it gets to a town like Charleston. The “A” market is New York, Los Angeles, Chicago. The “B” market is Atlanta. “C” means Charlotte, Raleigh, and “D” is Columbia. “E” is Charleston, which is pathetic, given Charleston’s ambition to be the center of film culture in the southeast.

    As word of mouth spreads and a film garners awards and gains stature, its status may change, as it did with BBM. Focus Features decided to release the film in Charleston one week early. Not only that, it is now playing in a major chain theater (as well as our “art” theater).

    I went to the major chain theater and, thank goodness, watched this film on a very large screen and with excellent sound. I don’t see the John Ford connection (he’d never do a film in the Rockies) but it is a beautiful film. I enjoyed it very much, and I have only a few things to add to this conversation.

    My biggest question (which is not rhetorical, I want some help here) is this: why are we not given even one single extended scene of Ennis and Jack together on one of their special “fishing trips”? The most time we spend with them together is during their first meeting, when they are herding sheep for Joe Aguirre. Is this because their secret trysts are meant to be kept secret from us as well? Are we meant to be like Alma? We get bits and pieces, but very little.

    This is important because mainstream audiences are unaccustomed to seeing male love portrayed in film, and I’m sure Ang Lee thought a great deal about how to make sure the audience not only believes that these men are, indeed, in love, but can also feel their love. But all we get is the two men apart, with their wives, or (in the case of Jack) searching for love in all the wrong places and (in the case of Ennis) searching for punishment and pain. I was puzzled by the lack of time we spent with the two men, but impressed that, despite this lack, we can be genuinely moved by two key sequences: 1) the scene where Ennis, after telling Jack they won’t have August together, collapses in tears and says he is where he is because of Jack. 2) the penultimate scene, where Ennis finds Jack’s bloody shirt (and the final shot, too).

    It’s strikes me as fairly amazing that I’m so moved by these sequences in spite of the fact that I just don’t have enough time with these two men, together, in love, in Brokeback Mountain. I’m still not sure if I really felt any love–just loss and regret.

    Is Jack the victim of a hate crime, or is Ennis just imagining the worst? It’s a wonderful bit of ambiguity, as Jeff suggests. Both possibilities are equally powerful, equally true to the film and its world. On the one hand, twice Jack is cruising for a brusing, so (given that 3 is the magic number in cinema) it wouldn’t be surprising that he would get his face bashed in. But it’s also clear that Ennis is desperately, painfully, unable to imagine anything but the worst for Jack (and himself). The key scene here is when Ennis’s father takes him to see the corpse of a man who, having “lived” with another man, was dragged, beaten, and mutilated. Ennis recalls this memory to help Jack understand why it is impossible for the two to be together (and for the audience to even see them together?). It also explains Ennis’s incapacity to envision, even as fantasy, the very idea of such a union. He’s not just a cautious naysayer (“no Jack, that won’t work”). The very idea of the two of them living together on a ranch is beyond his comprehension.

    It’s a powerful film, and I did enjoy it a good deal. But I think it is flawed. That’s my first thought, and I do hope my thoughts will change as time goes on. It’s only been a few hours.

  20. Is this because their secret trysts are meant to be kept secret from us as well? Are we meant to be like Alma? We get bits and pieces, but very little.

    I do think you’re onto something, John. The reunions are so fleeting (flimsy) that to give the audience more visual material is to make permanently indelible what these men feel to be always out of reach. Then again others might argue that too much cowboy sex is just too much cowboy sex and that the film is, essentially, a narrative generated for heterosexuals who want their liberal values triumphed with a minimal to non-existent amount of actual dudes kissing and fucking. I believe one could deconstruct the film this way and make a cogent argument.

    Oh yes, and John Waters on BBM: “It’s a good gay movie. It’s probably the most positive gay movie ever made. The right wing is correct: it’s a great recruitment tool. I’ve never seen any gay cowboys that were that cute.”

  21. That’s an interesting point about the lack of reunion scenes. I buy the argument Jeff outlines about it being a defensive, strategic choice made in order not to alienate those brave heterosexuals in the E markets. This is one case where a strategic defense initiative does NOT involve spewing a volley of tiny missiles over and over again.

    I saw on the making-of TV special about Ang Lee’s use of the free-breathing landscape to contrast with the betrodden town life of Ennis’s family. I guess this means that the sprawling landscape is, ironically, supposed to convey the tight intimacy shared by Ennis and Jack. Like Reynolds says above, “it makes the background almost an extension of the unexpressed emotions and passions.” I agree, and that’s a lot of weight for the landscape to bear, isn’t it?

    I think that what’s interesting about the landscape is that irony. Not just the first-impression irony embedded in the presentation of Marlboro-Man country as the home for this love affair. Also, there are other tropes that play with creating meaning within some kind of a contradiction. For example, conceptual time-lag brought on by the fact that this story starts well after the symbolic closing of the US Western “frontier.” The characters are living this frontier cowboy life at a moment when urban America considers it to no longer exist. The frontier looks open but we reason it to be already closed. Or, also, there is the ironic expression of their tightly-wound connection through a sprawling landscape.

    It’s either frustrating or beguiling that when we turn to the Brokeback mountain to compensate for the lack of explicit intimacy between these two characters, we just get more noble, immovable silence in the form of these quiet mountains.

    I think it’s easy to think of the mountains as a “carte du tendre” of this particular love affair, especially as a starting-point, but I’m still interested in what happens to the status of the landscape as time goes on. Specifically, when Brokeback starts to signify through the postcard in Ennis’s little shrine.

    (BTW, is there somewhere to see the complete list of that scale of US film markets?)

  22. pony, i understood about 47% of you comment. make that 43%. how about you get rid of the furren sentences? for starters? (you know i love you and think the world of you. i’m just not very smart. though i liked the point about the frontier. i really dug that).

  23. No, I don’t think so. I was using it rather sloppily to suggest that a map of Brokeback mountain could also function as a sort of map of their emotional life, like the 17th-century map I am going to try to link to here which has some quasi-allegorical features like the “Lake of Indifference” or the “Sea of Enmity” which I think you arrive at if you go down the “Path of Pride.”

    The objective correlative idea is interesting though; I’d never heard of that before having to look it up just now.

  24. just a brief “i told you so” note about the film’s box-office. it has already crossed $60 million domestically. and that’s before it picks up any oscars, which will likely mean another significant bump. so american audiences haven’t ignored it after all.

  25. I’m assuming your “I told you so” is meant for me (hey, I don’t mind being your bitch, arnab, but the least you can do is offer me a reach around every now and then), and I agree and am happy to report that Brokeback Mountain has sailed beyond my earlier prognosis. I actually saw the film for a second time last weekend and enjoyed the experience even more than the first. Still, after adding 435 screens last weekend, the box office take was still down approximately 10% from the previous weekend’s grosses. And this was meant to be the weekend for the all powerful Oscar nominations bump. I do believe this film has been marketed expertly, and it may indeed reach $100 million (I hope it does). But evidence suggests that BBM is making its money not across the heartland but on the coasts and in larger urban areas (predominantly blue areas in the great color scheme which has come to define politics in America).

  26. Does anybody read Mickey Kaus’ blog over at Slate. He’s all over this BBM thing. He strikes me as a total ass and he is nothing if not persistent and I’d rather not agree with him, but he’s covering the box office grosses of BBM as if it were a presidential election.

  27. Mauer, need I remind you?

    Spam is commercial garbish that is automatically sent to hundreds of blogs at the same time regardless of the subject of your posting, but one comment from one of your readers and a link to a place where they can buy [cheap cellular phones] falls perfectly within the range of acceptable commentary. It is your blog and you can do as you please but don’t call me a spammer ‘cause you be wrong and I hate spammers too. I ain’t coming back here to hear your response so be more careful the next time ‘cause as far as I can see, no one else is reading your pretentious non-sense.

  28. we’re getting a lot of this sort of comment spam these days. i’m quietly deleting it behind the scenes–it hurts me since they’re all so flattering.

  29. well-spotted John! Cheap Cellular Phone Sales is actually Soupy’s less successful brother. Instead of getting a nice gig on “What’s My Line,” he was forced to do standup between strip acts at a San Antonio bar called Fillies. He had a small role as the schizophrenic mailman on the 1980s sitcom “Hey, What’s That?” but fell on hard times because of a meth addiction. It’s nice to see him back and checking out our blog! Hey cheap! I used to love your tagline “Can I lick a stamp for you?” great stuff…..

  30. Because I am such a big fan of Mysterious Skin and because I think this essay does a really nice job unpacking some of the complexities of queer cinema, I thought I would add one more post to this thread.

  31. saw Mysterious Skin last night. thanks for recommending it, jeff. such a sensitive and harrowing portrayal of child abuse. if you want to say more about it, please do. i’d really like to hear what moved you in it so much.

  32. the article jeff links to in 39. claims that mysterious skin represents the heart of the queer movement, whereas brokeback mountain betrays it. this article reproduces the terms of the debate that’s taking place in the gay/queer community over gay marriage and that i understand only when simon, who’s a supporter of the “truly queer” side of it, re-explains it to me afresh. after a bit, i invariably fall back into not seeing what can possibly be wrong for homosexuals who love each other to want the same acknowledgment (and civil and legal rights) as heterosexuals who love each other. if the “truly queer” don’t want to get married, they are welcome to it.

    one general problem i have with the “truly queer” is that it complicates the relation between queer and homosexuality in a way that i find unwelcome. if being queer means (roughly) being someone whose sexual and love life does not comform to the norm, the normative, and the normal, the queer movement is bound to embrace non-gay people like, say, women who happily engage in multiple non-monogamous relationships with men (whether they — the women — are married or not), women who enjoy, seek, and engage in unproblematic sex with much younger men, open heterosexual couples, etc. I myself would like the queer community joyfully defined at least to some extent in terms of gayness, but hey that’s just me.

    back to the film. it’s hard for me to see this film as a truly queer film, and not only because one of the characters is simply not gay. the most problematic aspect of such a reading is that the queerness in the film comes from a place of trauma and is, at least to some extent, an expression of pain.

    i like brokeback mountain because it comforms to the dramatic love story paradigm. genre saves it.

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