Monday, January 23, 2006

Gary Younge on Brokeback Mountain

Younge can sometimes be very astute and others way off base. At first read, I am inclined to the former reading for this piece on Brokeback Mountain. It takes as its frame "the down-low":
The down-low refers to black men who are in committed heterosexual relationships and then slip off to have sex with other men on the sly. Like "political correctness", it is one of those media constructs that gained currency but never acquired real meaning.
Younge traces some of the media buzz alongside some of the harsh realities of sexual contact in the modern age. It ends thus:
Which brings us back to Brokeback Mountain - a film that sensitively illustrated how even our most intimate human relationships are framed and shaped in no small part by the power, prejudices and conventions of the world around us. It is the only movie I have ever heard of where women cry, in sympathy rather than anger, at the sight of two men routinely betraying their wives, set in a place that embraces rather than stigmatises human frailty - where people cheat because the rules are stacked against them.
Thought-provoking at the least...


Rosby said...

Pathetic blogtionary entrant, but decided to enter it anyway:

BLOGGANT - A blogger who has compulsive "must-go-nuts-about-David-Tennant" disorder, and shows it when they write. I am one. Marie is another. I'm sure there are more.

JodyTresidder said...

Ah, but Lisa...
..note Younge's slippery use of the adverb "routinely".

We cry (I didn't, in fact but I get his point and adored the film) in sympathy rather than anger because while the marital betrayals are routine in BBM - as in regular over time - they are NOT routine according to Hollywood's usual portrayal of infidelity - which is routinely heterosexual.

If Younge had referred more accurately to it being the only movie which makes women cry sympathetically "at the sight of two men routinely betraying their wives WITH EACH OTHER", he wouldn't have much of a column left! Because BBM is the first/only mainstream movie to show this.

Women, surely, are sympathetic because the "discarded" wives are not second best to other women?

(I think Younge can be astute - but is mainly infuriating).

Paulie said...

So are Brokeback Mountain's damp-eyed audiences sympathtic to Mark Oaten do you think?

Reading the blogsphere and the newspapers, I think not.

JoeinVegas said...

Oh my, getting lost among the posts again. Looks like I'll have to see more movies.

JodyTresidder said...

Paulie wrote:" So are Brokeback Mountain's damp-eyed audiences sympathtic to Mark Oaten do you think? Reading the blogsphere and the newspapers, I think not."

And today's "Telegraph" reports of Oaten:
"Just 13 days ago the 41-year-old member for Winchester sought to underscore his "family man" credentials, ushering television cameras into his Hampshire home in Bramdean on the eve of his leadership bid to film him having a meal with his wife Belinda and their two daughters."

Guess I missed the scene in the film where the BBM guys did the TV interview for political and personal gain?

Paulie said...

What a cheap little point you make Jody.

Did you miss the bit where one of the main characters married a rich man's daughter?

And how do you know that he isn't (or probably 'wasn't' now) a family man? He may have a loving relationship with his kids. He may be struggling to make things work with his wife.

If you are in public life, your family is your life. I've worked around politicians. They have to work outlandish hours and they regularly get requests for interviews at home, a 'bit of background'.

The glee that surrounds the downfall of someone, in this country, is just sickening.

JodyTresidder said...

With respect, my point was not cheap (as in tawdry or not worth very much) at all!

YOU were the one who introduced a bizarre comparison between a ground-breaking movie - in which a punishment for pursuing homosexual love is getting "accidentally" beaten to death - and a scandal that has merely torpedoed the public career of a minor politician.

You also write: "If you are in public life, your family is your life."

Er - and your point is?

Surely this is a facile truth about modern politics that Oaten sought to use hypocritically?

There are an enormous number of ways Oaten could have dealt with the facts of his past. He chose the stupidest one available and got caught.

Your irritation with the public seems entirely misplaced.

Lisa Rullsenberg said...

Gosh I feel like I'm really lowering the tone on this debate, but I have to ask:

Jody Tresidder - any relation to the author of The Unauthorised Biography of Hugh Grant?

And just to say, I had no idea that my passing interest in Younge's comments (discussing things I hadn't seen mentioned elsewhere in the melee of commentary the film has generated) would prompt such a storm.

JodyTresidder said...

Same person I'm afraid, Lisa.

(That thump was the tone of this thread hitting the bottom of the lift shaft:))

Lisa Rullsenberg said...


Thanks for not biting for asking though (I actually know several people who would be thrilled to meet someone who managed to get such a work published! In a good way of course!)

Marie said...

I'm sorry to return to the low tone, but can we just get away from this idea that people have problems with Mark Oaten for being gay, when in reality my (and many others') issues with his are for using prostitutes, gender irrrelecant?

Paul said...

It should take all of the awards because being gay is all the rage.