She sent this link on to me today and I thought it worth presenting here.
John Morgan Wilson, a journalist and novelist, here presents a timely reminder that for all the excitement over Brokeback Mountain, there remains a dominent current of homophobia.
I’m talking about one of the stars, Heath Ledger, telling a publication that he and costar Jake Gyllenhaal had to “work hard to keep from laughing” when they prepared to kiss each other in a scripted scene. It’s not something I can imagine him ever telling a reporter about a romantic scene he’d shared with a female actor. (At least he’s honest about his discomfort with kissing a man; I’ll give him that.)It's hard not to notice the implications of these things when they are so clearly laid out.
I’m talking about the likable Gyllenhaal going on the Jay Leno show to promote the movie and saying pointedly that the initial idea of playing a “gay cowboy” was unthinkable, and that years earlier he’d been repulsed when someone had suggested he read the Annie Proulx short story on which the eventual movie was based. (I wonder if reading stories involving violence or emotional abuse also turn him off so fervently.)
I’m talking about the affable Leno falling all over himself to make sure his TV audience knew that he considered Brokeback a “wonderful” film. This despite his endless homophobic jokes over the years during his monologues, particularly his asides with bandleader Kevin Eubanks, when they make it clear that they find the idea of physical intimacy between two men really icky. (Though he doesn’t seem to realize it, the unmarried Eubanks’s reflexive revulsion to any reference to gay sexuality stopped being funny and started looking suspicious years ago.)
I’m talking about the repeated references in the endless media coverage of Brokeback Mountain to the heterosexuality of director Ang Lee and his male stars, reflecting their apparent need to distance themselves from homosexuality. (Or maybe it’s just the publicists and reporters who feel that’s so important.)
I’m talking about their constant pleas during interviews, direct or implied, for moviegoers to get beyond their preconceptions and experience the film as a great love story regardless of its same-sex nature. (Put another way: We realize that you find gay love alien and gay sex disgusting, but, hey, this is a movie, so don’t let your understandable repugnance keep you from seeing a great flick.)