Hot, Sweaty Guy-on-Guy Action

by robbiefreeling
November 17, 2005 11:34 AM
5 Comments
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heath_ledger1.jpg

In case you were wondering, Reverse Shot is not immune to the hype. Or at least, who can help but be aware of the inundation of weirdo publicity about Brokeback Mountain that’s been cascading like golden showers for the past six-odd months. But if there’s something I simply can’t fucking stand anymore (even more so than the predictable crap over at the Drudge Report), it’s the constant stressing of the UNIVERSALITY of the central gay love story of Ang Lee’s surprisingly unadorned, sturdily mounted (laugh, but it’s TRUE) cobalt-blue kinda-western. In interviews, the ballcapped, grinning Lee has been doing it, almost to the point of panic-stricken tongue-knots (“It’s a universal love story…universal…they don’t necessarily have to be two guys.”). Yes, I get it, don’t alienate the straights. Got it. Now, newly minted hesitant gay poster boy Jake Gyllenhaal has been ducking for cover for months, as in the new Details: "I approached the story believing that these are actually straight guys who fall in love," he says. "That's how I related to the material. These are two straight guys who develop this love, this bond. Love binds you, and you see these guys pulling and pulling and tugging and trying to figure out what they want, and what they will allow themselves to have."

To use the oft exclamation from one of my fave gay-panic movies of all time, Dreamcatcher: Well, fuck me, Freddy. Uh oh, Focus Features, here it comes…I’m gonna say it. I’m gonna say it….get ready:

Brokeback Mountain is GAY. Thank God. Double gay with marshmallow, two cherries, almond slivers, and hot, hot fudge. No, not in the Trick, Billy’s Hollywood Screen Kiss way that most of the country perceives as reliably, ghettoized homo, but lots of denim and Heath Ledger’s low-register drawl cannot disguise the fact that, no, dude, it’s NOT universal: This love story, nicely handled and wonderfully expansive in its own realm, is specific in every manner, from its Montana setting, to its 60s-to-80s time period, to its two MALE closeted characters whose love remains a closed-lipped, “fishing buddies” affair over many decades. I know Oscar nominations are expected, and to make it the crossover success it has to be, you needed to Titanic up the poster and have Heath and Jake act all aw-shucks and egg-shell crushing when talking to Star Jones and Katie Couric. But please, no more “universality”; every corner of every frame is specific to one particular, American social indignity that continues to this day, the full emotional scope of this melancholy love story cannot be stolen away from its landscape. Yeah, plus, there’s saliva-lubricated ass-ramming, and lots of goopy man-on-man making out. I’m seeing it again.

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5 Comments

  • abbas | November 23, 2006 11:52 AMReply

    i am abbas from lebanon i learn in belarus in minsk i want a gay from suadi arabi to fuck me

  • jeff | December 15, 2005 7:17 AMReply

    i love guy on guy action

  • cnw | November 19, 2005 8:56 AMReply

    It's bad analogy time: If Annabella Sciorra had done publicity for JUNGLE FEVER talking about how "universal" it was and "not about interracial romance per se" and how she thought of Wesley Snipes as a "white guy who just happened to be all wrong for her", everyone would have flipped. I'm with robbiefreeling on this one.

    And now we get this: "In an early meeting, Schamus told Lee that, from a marketing standpoint, they were making this film for one core audience. 'Yes, of course,' Lee said. 'The gay audience.' No, Schamus said. 'Women.'" All due respect to my lady friends and their gay-boy-friendly dollars (we'll see BROKEBACK together, weep, get dessert at the Chocolate Room afterwards): When did this become a women's movie _instead_ of a gay movie? Sure, Focus knows it has a built-in homo audience that would cross the Sahara to see Heath and Jake touch each others' naughty parts, but again, if Spike Lee said he wasn't marketing JUNGLE FEVER to black people but to, say, "white girls", he would have been run out of town by an angry mob.

    Let me blow this out of proportion for the sake of argument. Liberal America needs to stop fighting the damn culture war on the defensive, capitulating and hedging for fear of offending "red state America". We believe in sodomy, the right to choose, and the goddamn theory of evolution.

    And yes, we're going to see BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN because it's gay, gay,gay. We're going to take our big gay dollars and turn it into a big gay hit. We might even give it some big gay Oscars. And if you don't like that, you can go see THE PRODUCERS instead. Because, well, that's not gay at all.

  • Kristian Salinas | November 18, 2005 9:19 AMReply

    Yes, "Brokeback Mountain" is GAY. Not "Transamerica" gay, but "Querelle" GAY. Not "Birdcage" gay, but "O Fantasma" GAY (OK, maybe not that gay). So why didn't Focus take the film onto the gay fest circuit? No chicks. The future of gay films is between a rock and a hard place. If "Brokeback" fails, then, well, America is just not ready for a gay love story, and its back to the closet. If "Brokeback" is a success, then the female demo will be rewarded and gay-boi love stories will become the new chick flicks (the flip side being chicks' Str8 boyfriends now forced to watch how the other side butters its toast!). So as much as I love "Brokeback" and plan to see it again (and again infinitum), my question is how do we take back ownership of our own stories?

  • Spotted Reptile | November 18, 2005 5:19 AMReply

    Yes, I get, get you too. It isn't a universal love story, period. But then, neither is it a gay love story, period. The two aren't surely mutually exclusive. Can't this film be BOTH a gay love story, which I'm not denying it certainly is, but one which has universal appeal for those who have loved in ANY situation?
    To borrow from the Titanic analogy again, it's like saying Titanic was a film where the ship sank. Undeniably true. But it was also much, much more.

    I agree you can't take the gayness out of it, nor would anyone in their right minds want to. That is the core of the film and its raison d'etre. But by making their gay love a subset of the whole human love experience, rather than a different set outside it, it validates gay love as no other film has done yet. The fact that these men can love as truly and completely as any other lovers is taken as a given by the story, without needing to justify or explain it. Kudos to all concerned.

    However, marketing was always going to be a difficulty. If, god willing, we get more mainstream-oriented gay love stories in the future, perhaps they won't need to walk this troubled identity path, and it will be easier for them to categorise themselves. But as a groundbreaker, BBM has to do the hard work. Be grateful a little, at least.