Sunday, February 05, 2006

Getting over the 'Brokeback' hump

I was raised in Wyoming -- not as a cowboy and not gay (not that there's anything wrong with that) -- and I was fascinated by Annie Proulx's short story when it first came out. So last weekend, my 22-year-old daughter and I went to see "Brokeback Mountain." It was her second time, and she planned to see it at least once more with her boyfriend. We went to a 1:45 p.m. matinee, thinking that'd be the thinnest crowd. It was packed, proving it's not wise to make broad assumptions here in the Bible Belt.

Well, I graduated from the 18-to-34 male demographic exactly 15 years ago, so I don't count, but there weren't many of those precious consumers in the audience. Lots of older folks of both sexes, and some young women -- but few young men. Why's that?

The San Francisco Chronicle's pop culture writer Peter Hartlaub noticed, too. And this weekend, he offers some excellent tips (and some hilarious writing) on the phenomenon. He says, in part:

"It's a strange phobia, considering that 'Brokeback Mountain' may be the best date movie to come along in years. You have the potential to look so sensitive that you can probably get her to pay for the movie and a trip to Red Lobster. Add a few tears near the ending (just think about that scene in 'Rudy' where underdog Rudy leads the Notre Dame Irish on the field), and you might be surprised where the evening takes you. Think make-up sex is great? Try some you-just-took-me-to-'Brokeback Mountain' sex."
For my part, I liked "Brokeback Mountain." While most of it was shot in Canada, it captured the promising-but-perilous (and occasionally bleak) landscape of my home state pretty well. I knew guys like Ennis and Jack: Rootless, aloof, lonely, deliberately dispassionate, and usually impoverished, living from meager paycheck to rodeo entry fee to meager paycheck. We've seen his type depicted before: Montgomery Clift (who also happened to be gay) in "The Misfits" and Cliff Robertson in "J.W. Coop." So, for me, there was this twinge of recognition of those guys, and I felt terribly sorry for them ... and hoped to God I wasn't like them when the time came to take stock of life.

Is there a real Brokeback Mountain, you might ask your blogging Wyoming friend?


The USGS Global Names Information System contains no Brokeback Mountain, but there's a Brokenback Creek, Narrows and Reservoir about 100 miles northeast of Riverton, a real city in central Wyoming (the town where Ennis Del Mar lives in the story.)

Annie Proulx told the Jackson Hole (Wyo.) News: "Brokeback is not a real place. There is, on a map I once saw, a Break Back Mountain in Wyoming which I have never seen, but the name worked on several levels and replaced half a dozen more pedestrian names I had been trying out."

But, in fact, there are no Break Back geographic sites in Wyoming either. Ain't creativity cool?

PHOTO ABOVE: This is what's known in Wyoming as an "IFOT" -- an image made "in front of Tetons."


Love, Rita said...

Although I don't understand the appeal of this movie--I haven't actually seen it myself--I enjoyed reading your take on it.

Also, thanks so much for linking to my site!

Ivy said...

I haven't seen it and probably won't. Nothing to do with gay cowboys though. I'm just not one to sit still that long and watch a movie. Sit still that long infront of the pc.. yep.. infront of the tv.. no.. i've been to the movies twice in 7 years..
My husband already stated he has no desire to see it.. he is into the fighting movies that make me want to pull my hair out..

GrizzBabe said...

I have been preaching the "Brokeback gospel" for weeks in my small little corner of the Bible belt to no avail. The story is so compelling that you almost forget that it's a gay couple. I wish people would give it a chance.

GRT said...

Interesting that the movie played to a good house.

Even my brother, who has struggled for decades with learning how to deal with gaybrother then gayson then gayniece, thought it was well done; but he probably wouldn't have gone if I hadn't pushed.
"It was well done, but I couldn't identify with their predicament." (He'd never been in love?)

One pebble at a time.