Brokeback Blowback, Part III

“…wherein the author explains that there are those who are obliged to watch over “sheep”…and those who must not do so at times. The former group includes politicians and priests, and the latter includes characters such as Annie Proulx’s Ennis…who was, arguably, destined to sacrifice more sheep, but did not. The former, as a rule, do not do their job, and the latter…may never learn. Cannot…so often?” — Excerpt from the author’s “bio” below

Krakatoa is west of Java in the Sunda Strait, but when Hollywooders made their cinematic catastrophe epic in Cinerama…they placed the historic 1883 volcanic explosion/tidal wave elsewhere, titling their film Krakatoa, East of Java.
Why? Because it sounded more exotic.

Traditional critical takes of Ang Lee’s new film are west of what’s needed, east of what needs to be wrested from the cowboys who have always run this country. Now boys can no longer be boys as they must grow up overnight, lest the best of them and/or in them dies. What our Home of the Deranged cries for is a human response to Ang’s angle, not exotic coffee klatch criticism southeast of Nowhere.

What you do –after you’ve seen the movie in a theatre– is go to the Rotten Tomatoes site http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/brokeback_mountain/ and see which reviewers didn’t appreciate the watershed work of Ang Lee. Then you cross them off of your list. Let them continue to dissect things like Justice and Compassion in the likes of Philadelphia fare…without you. With bravura commentary in the realm of cinematic aesthetics, if they like.

This has zero to do with hailing the film in traditional terms. Nothing to do with reviewing. You’re doing us all a disservice if you left-brain this film to death, Ebert its pluses and minuses.

There are other things you can do too following a viewing, of course. Like you can read Annie’s short story, written pre-Shepard, I understand. And you can remind all you meet that if political leaders on any level had wanted to do something to discourage homophobia in the past they could have, the political suicide inherent in such a stand* notwithstanding.

We’re leaving the film proper now, its universals enveloping a beautiful memory in the distance.

*Few of the lefties all around me –Don’t put your hands on me!– acknowledge that Sacrificial Lamb Syndrome is necessary in such Sheepish Realms, that to really address the violence directed against The Different, politicians have to do something that I no longer recommend for the average activist. To wit, they have to put their hides on the block for tanning and torture.

Ditto for matters which lie outside of what happens to two men lying down together in the privacy of their tent.

As in…pointing out that youngsters –homosexuals or not– should not be putting their lives on the line for this country, should not be killing others –queer or no– in the name of the U.S.A. out of economic pressures…or for any other reason actually. Particularly in these days, if not always.

Curious to me how it’s okay by politicos and others to encourage needy youngsters to pick up arms and march abroad, but not okay for the same kids to steal a loaf of bread from Safeway.

See, there’s no way around having that cerebral confrontation, that verbal exchange. Not any more. Not any more than it is possible to change one’s nature, shortchange a timely product in the long run (with routine criticism), or ignore the vast range of unused options open to politicians…if they really want to do what Ang Lee did.

Quick, give me any politician’s memorable quote respecting the need to respect The Different. Or look one up…to see if you can find one. Talking here ’bout a heartfelt statement that forced shivers up the rectum and spine of virtually all listeners. Not just words.

That said, do not think of Brokeback Mountain as a message film, as some kind of gay counterpart to a Brechtian play. In fact, don’t think ahead of time at all. And definitely don’t read insensitive reviews prematurely. Do pray that Speilberg’s Munich spiel –or anything like it– doesn’t steal the deserved laurels from the Brokeback boys and girls. There would be much too much blowback for my taste if that scenario came down. And it would continue, nay…solidify the dumbdown of our broken black spine.

Richard Oxman, rmoxman@yahoo.com, living in Los Gatos, California, is co-author of Words Cannot Express… wherein the author explains that there are those who are obliged to watch over “sheep”…and those who must not do so at times. The former group includes politicians and priests, and the latter includes characters such as Annie Proulx’s Ennis…who was, arguably, destined to sacrifice more sheep, but did not. The former, as a rule, do not do their job, and the latter…may never learn. Cannot…so often?