Monday, January 23, 2006

Interview with Annie Proulx

Annie Proulx, the reclusive Pulitzer Prize-winner, has generally shunned the limelight to devote her energies to writing. That's both refreshing in our media-saturated world and disappointing for those of us who'd like to hear more about her processes.

But her short story "Brokeback Mountain" -- crafted into an Oscar-likely script by Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana -- has made it more difficult for the Wyoming-transplanted writer to stay hidden in her beloved backwoods.

Today's San Francisco Chronicle features a Q&A interview with Proulx that's about as revealing as she can be ... which is to say, not too terribly much. But she has some interesting things to say. Among them, her hopes for the story, in both its film and literary forms:

"I hope that it is going to start conversations and discussions, that it's going to awaken in people an empathy for diversity, for each other and the larger world. I'm really hoping that the idea of tolerance will come through discussions about the film. People tend to walk out of the theater with a sense of compassion, which I think is very fine. It is a love story. It has been called both universal and specific and I think that's true. It's an old, old story. We've heard this story a million times, we just haven't heard it quite with this cast."


SingingSkies said...

I, too, hope that the story starts conversations and discussions. And I believe it has. She notes that people leave the theater with a sense of compassion. I wonder whether this is a function of 'self-selection' or the movie itself.

It seems to me that those who are adamantly against gay relationships are the least likely to see the movie or read her story in the first place. Yet it is in learning more about each other that we gain understanding and build relationship across our differences.

Thanks for sharing the interview with us.

Cris said...

i have read interview snippets by the woman and am not totally impressed, but do not have the time to do any more research on the subject.

I loved the movie.

singing skies suggests that some of the positives of the reactions to the movie might be about self selection. of course it is, but that is not all it is. This movie is getting some wide spread attention and viewers from a wide audience.

people adamantly against something rarely engage it. but if we stopped addressing things publicly because we feared that the people who most needed to hear/see those things would not, then we are giving them the control.

as a lesbian, and also wearing all the many other hats i wear, i find that as people get to know me on a personal level, the less misunderstandings and fears i deal with because people can ask questions and see a real person for themselves. Movies rarely portray real people living real lives.

the key to the public "face" is that it brings words into the public consiousness, it brings the diversity of individuals into the public awareness, and it allows us to be able to identify both the allies and the enemies much more clearly.

20 years ago if you talked about gay rights, the majority of the non-gay public would immediately bring to mind Stonewall and the Drag Queens because that was the only context many had. Today even those who are most afraid of us still have many impressions of who we are, and so much more of a diverse picture of what gay rights are being discussed. It does not stop some of the icky ones (the far right religious fanatic types) from trying to put their own evil twist and focus into things. But today even the most rabid anti-gay propaganda has a counterpoint in someone like Barney Frank, or Tammy Baldwin or the many other public and non public faces of the LGBT communities.

Thanks for the space to let fly a bit....and for giving some space on your blog for the conversations

Ron Franscell said...

Cris -- This blog works best when its space is consumed by conversations! Thank YOU.

"Brokeback' might have its greatest value in simply making a love story between two men more of our ho-hum experience. Like every other thing that's probably been kept in the closet too long -- no pun intended -- when it becomes part of the natrual warp and weft of our culture, the fear crap sloughs off.

Patrick Joubert Conlon said...

I haven't seen the movie yet because I don't go to theaters but I'll rent the DVD because I enjoyed the last movie made from a Proulx story - Shipping News.

SingingSkies said...

ummmmm....I certainly wasn't advocating that we stop discussing the issue in public forums. That would be totally counterproductive.

I was simply noting that those who are already empathetic to the issue are more likely to see the movie and, thus, be the source of the public response. Actually, it is a positive that people are seeing the movie, being captured by it, and then sharing their experience. It's good that Brokeback Mountain has engaged the conversation in a context which has not reached public awareness before.

Let us hope that it continues to work its way through the culture and, as Ron said, make love stories between two men, or two women, become a ho-hum experience.

Ron Franscell said...

Rest assured, Cris, SingingSkies is one of the good guys on this one. I haven't seen it, but have been part of the coverage. The reports I hear from gay and straight are so far unanimous on the film, not just for the message, but also for the acting, cinematography, script, etc. too. Gosh, a good film with an important message. How lucky.

It opens here in Southeast Texas on Friday. As soon as reasonably possible, I'll report back with a straight-guy film-lover (and Wyoming kid) perspective.

Cris said...

Ron, I do not question singingskies "position", and do appreciate that he/she was even willing to engage in conversation. I appreciate the questions raised.

Sometimes we engage more in passive, conversational wonderings and questions. As an actiivist I find myself often pushing at the boundries and challenging.

I look forward to hearing your POV on the movie, as I have yet to hear a str8 guy, movie lover, wyoming kid perspective.