Brokeback Mountain

I’ve been biting my tongue listening to all the hype surrounding Brokeback Mountain, both before and after the Oscars, and reading what people, both gay and straight, had to say in movie reviews and on various blogs. Now that Annie Proulx has had her say, I feel a little less constrained about unleashing the hounds. So here are some random thoughts I have about our society’s reaction to Brokeback Mountain:
I find it annoying and more than a little condecending that straight people can watch a two hour movie and presume to understand and empathize with a struggle that I’ve engaged in for more than 37 years.
I’m quietly infuriated when people say they see in Brokeback Mountain “not two men in love, but the universal story of love” or something similar, or when they describe Ennis and Jack’s relationship as another example of a “universal forbidden love story that we all can related to.” Don’t get me wrong; I’m thrilled that straight people finally understand what we feel is real live love like theirs. (Although one would think that a three-year-old could have grasped that long ago, and that it shouldn’t have required a movie like this one).
But it means they’ve missed the entire and complete point of the movie — our love is not like everyone else’s love – our pain is different, and so is our triumph when we succeed. Equating gay relationships to to other forbidden loves (like bi-racial marriages in the sixties) is not an equal comparison. I’m struggling with explaining an intangible quality about gay relationships — but the best description I can give is that within our relationships, we are not complementary to each other, but reflective of each other. That intangible quality is what is so unique (in an overwhelming and often frightening way), and so real, about our relationships, and what is captured so extraordinarily in the film. It comes out best in the confrontation scene near the end of the movie, the one that was so overshadowed by the heavy “I wish I could quit you!” line that so swamps the boat and makes people forget what that scene was really about. It was that line where Ennis asks, or tries to ask, whether Jack ever feels what he does — that sense that everyone can see through him and see who he is. That is what makes this story of lost love different than everyone elses.

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One comment on “Brokeback Mountain
  1. Shaun says:

    Hey, at last someone else see’s what I do in this film. I have not yet been fully subjected to all that comes with being in todays society but at the age of just 18 who can blame me. I find the comments made here very true and it infuriates me when people compare the love that Ennis and Jack share, just like the love that straight people have in a relationship. I mean I have not yet felt the full blow of love in an exteme way. A few crushes here and there, and that was stong enough. But it’s not the same. My best friend is straight and he explained the emotions he feels with his girlfriend and we are at polar ends when it comes to comparing how I feel when with a partner. Not even the small things.
    I am happy that people are starting to accept that we can fall in love also but it shouldn’t have taken Ang Lee to thrust a love story between two stong movie figures for it to sink in.

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