Brokeback vs. Narnia

by Anthony Kaufman
December 6, 2005 5:21 AM
5 Comments
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Culture wars, ignite! My latest strike in America's ideological battlefield can be read in this week's Village Voice: "Heavenly Features: Moving into the mainstream, the Christian right tells Hollywood to have a little faith." Of course, a lot of ink has already been spilled by news outlets all over the world about the importance of "The Chronicles of Narnia" to the Christian Right, but I wanted to do a couple things that a lot of articles have not: 1) Highlight that this is not a one-time event pegged to Disney's Narnia, but a widespread movement in Hollywood and 2) the odd coincidence that "Brokeback Mountain" -- the Christian Right's worst nightmare -- is opening the same day as "Narnia".

But before you all call me inflammatory and essentialist and accuse me of being an atheistic culture divider, I wanted to provide you with a quote that Damon Romine, GLAAD's Media Director gave me. "I think the important thing to remember is that many gay people are deeply religious and spiritual -- and I'm guessing many, religious or not, grew up reading the 'Chronicles'; I know I did. These movies aren't at odds with each other -- one's a fantasy epic, the other's a classic romance. It would be an extraordinarily crass move for anyone to try and position this as 'Narnia' versus 'Brokeback', because there are going to be plenty of people who will want to see both."

We shall see. What do you think?

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5 Comments

  • Anovus | December 13, 2005 9:47 AMReply

    I realize that this film is based on a story written by heterosexuals; HOWEVER....it epitomizes certain realities I saw in the gay scene.
    One is the desire for a straight or “straight acting” man. To have two good-looking, masculine cowboys falling in love is virtually every gay man’s ultimate fantasy. It’s their alienation from and ambivalence towards their own masculinity that I believe drives gay men to find completion in other men. This film represents a fantasy which will pull strongly on that deep need for completion.
    Evidence of gay men’s desire for completing or connecting with their lost or unaffirmed masculinity is evident throughout the gay scene. Just look at a local gay newspaper or look at the iconography adorning the walls of many gay bars and baths: drawings or photographs of hyper-masculine images. These include bulging bodybuilders, policemen, men in leather, and, yes, cowboys. There is a sense of almost reverent worship toward these images of the macho male.
    Look at a few gay male personal ad web sites. You’ll see 90% of the men listing themselves under names like, “Truck Driving Stud,” or “Muscle Jock.” These are all attempts to portray a false masculine self that was never nurtured and possibly attacked in their childhood.
    The need for this completion is so intense that men will risk their lives to achieve it symbolically in sexually acts. Hundreds of thousands have died doing so. There is a compulsion about it that is neither healthy nor freeing.
    I’ve been there. I’ve gotten out. Thank God.
    I’m saddened that a film has been produced that will continue to fuel empty fantasies that don’t ultimately fulfill nor complete a person but lead to emptiness and compulsion.

  • Anita Kilburn | December 11, 2005 5:17 AMReply

    I don't think this is Narnia vs Brokeback. They represent two very different perspectives. Narnia represents hope of good vs. evil. Brokeback represents heartache and pain inflicted by the two male characters based on CHOICES made. characters.

  • Mark Rabinowitz | December 7, 2005 7:05 AMReply

    Yes Eug, you are the only idiot who had never heard of Narnia!
    :-)
    I can't wait to see it.

  • Scott T. | December 7, 2005 5:09 AMReply

    In a way, it sort of pains me that Brokeback Mountain has to be brought out into a world that will immediately politicize it. I'm looking forward to a year or so from now, when the Culture Wars will rage about something else (can the right keep their fake Happy Holidays/Merry Christmas controversy going for a third straight year?) and the movie can return to being just a movie again. Then it will belong to the people who embrace it, not those inclined to branish it as a cultural weapon.

  • eugene | December 6, 2005 7:11 AMReply

    i may be the only idiot who had never even heard of "Narnia" but i was talking to two gay guys recently who LOVE the book and can't wait to see the movie. i think they were raised Christian.

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