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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Jack's Choice (ohdearlord,not another Brokeback post!)

I've become embroiled in a conversation conducted via the comments on a blog (http://www.livejournal.com/users/darkthirty/) that began with darkthirty's question: What is the theme of Brokeback Mountain? The conversation evolved quickly to a discussion of choice and deceit - a direction I'm sure DT had in mind from the beginning. I find it fascinating and share portions of that discussion here:

Really, all this talk about beautiful movie, moving, and all that, yet - what is the theme. Cause all I saw was deceit and fear - I cannot, for the life of me, understand where the so-called beautiful cinematography comes from - are people sure it was this movie and not Pride and Prejudice? Anyway, I saw the movie and it's not Abelard and Heloise, although the film has been compared to that on an Austen list.What is the stated theme of this movie. Answering that will, I am guessing, deflate the hugely lopsided evaluations of the movie... but, let's see what people say...

What is the theme?=What is this movie about?It's about ... forbidden love.But what about what its about? What about forbidden love? Brokeback illustrates that forbidden love, as defined by the arbitrary and lesser-angeled "morals" of our society, causes despair and agony, not only for those individuals involved in the forbidden love, but those closest to them, and ultimately, for society as a whole (though admittedly, that's a stretch as the movie doesn't speak directly to the society-as-a-whole issue). Although this particular forbidden love is gay love, the theme is universal, as we are all familiar, either through literature, film, music, or personal experience, with forbidden love of one kind or another.

Well, it's not forbidden, that's the issue, it's a choice one character makes, based on fear - on something his father showed him. Within 7 years of the start of this movie, 1963, there were gay rodeos. It's the choosing that's the point here. And, because it could be ANY choosing, it's an irritating film because it sentimentalizes the choosing of deceit and fear.

Aw, I concur to a point, the movie is in many ways about the choices we make. However, choices are socially-situated and constructed, and it;s indeed human nature to make some choices based on fear. It must be extraordinarily difficult to choose a relationship that if pursued publicly, will result in ostracism, public defamation and humiliation, not to mention grave physical danger - a relationship that one has been taught to consider substandard and morally bankrupt. It takes an exceptional human being to withstand that sort of fear and rise above that sort of enculturation. Thus, it's not necessarily ANY CHOOSING - the choices are constrained and heavily weighted.

www.glaad.org documents gay rodeo as beginning in 1976 in Reno, Nevada, though I've also read 1976 as a start date as well. Yes, some gay community and culture may have furtively been "thriving" in 1960s Wyoming, but here's another date that surely you are familiar with: 1988 -the year Matthew Sheperd, an openly gay teenager, was viciously beaten and killed for being gay of course in Wyoming. Yes, Matthew made a choice I suppose - he rose above the fear of being openly gay in a hostile environment. It cost him his life. Not much of a choice. Perhaps he should have heeded a little fear and deceit. So, I posit that the movie is indeed about forbidden love and the awful "choices" such forbidden love forces one into: deny the love and suffer extreme mental anguish, embrace the love and suffer as well. Perhaps the movie is also about the limited range of choices we create for ourselves and others when as individuals and a society we adhere to fear, bigotry, and hatred. But along your lines of choosing fear and deceit, I invite you to my blog entry: What John Wayne Might Say to Ennis and Jack. Check it out if you're so inclined. birdsblog.blogspot.com Thanks for the opportunity to "dialog" on your blog. Regards, Bird
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I want to add here, at the end of this post, for folks who may have misconstrued my JW post - I in no way endorse or embrace JW's point of view - I merely looked at one JW movie after another and wondered how he might view Jack's and Ennis' relationship and how it would stack up against JW's values - or rather, the values of the characters JW played and the value system inherent in Westerns in general. Hope that mouthful made sense!


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