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January 03, 2006


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The "gay cowboy" movie as our pathetic excuse for a national media has taken to calling it is

I think that was South Park's fault, with Cartman saying that all "art films" (or somesuch) are about "gay cowboys eating pudding."

Uhhh... Larry David's schtick is embarrassing self-parody; hadn't you noticed?

uhhh, yes I had noticed, but the reason the parody works is he's basing it in a wide-spread realworld response to the film.

As someone who absolutely loved the movie and teared up multiple times, I have to say that there was a deep part of me that wanted just one brief shot of one of them eating pudding, preferably in an extremely understated way that seemed completely innocuous to those not familiar with South Park.

there was a deep part of me that wanted just one brief shot of one of them eating pudding

I need to watch more South Park clearly.

One quibble -- and I'm not sure how this effects your larger point which I certainly agree with -- Ennis did not regard himself as homosexual before he hooked up with Jack -- remember he says "I ain't no queer" after they have sex the first time. And he was already engaged to be married. Seems to me like he was engaged to be married, not because society bullied him into acting heterosexual, but just because he didn't have any idea there was any other way. Jack (who seemed to be more "out" to himself) talked about going away and living with each other on a ranch, but not until after they were both already married.

Ennis says "I ain't no queer" (stop reading if you haven't seen it yet...

...because of what his father showed him as a 9 year old, not because he didn't know he was attracted to men...I'll guarantee it., so it's impossible to guarantee anything about a ficitional character, but I'd bet good money... ;-)

Mm, yeah. Good point. This could account for a lot of Ennis' alienation.

Sometimes a movie is just a movie. The rightwing's bizarre reaction to many of last years films show me that they do not know how to have a good time anylonger.

"...I know there are many Americans, like Larry David (you have to read this, it's amazing)...."

I can't tell, Edward, if you're unfamiliar with Larry David's work, and ironic approach, and are horrified because you didn't read it carefully, but read some of it, and took it, um, straight, or if you think his typically styled mocking of homophobia is hilarious.

"uhhh, yes I had noticed, but the reason the parody works is he's basing it in a wide-spread realworld response to the film."

Ah. Well, yes, of course. Satire that mocks something that doesn't exist doesn't tend to be either funny or have a point. I still can't tell if you're offended by David, or think he was wielding a funny and sharp needle, or what. "Amazing" doesn't convey any such information, one way or another.

"The words the guest utters are so flawlessly wrong (in the PC sense) that they brilliantly expose why most anti-gay arguments are actually as cruel and hurtful as gay people insist they are, even when self-declared non-bigoted straight people insist they're not meant to be."

One of the terrible things about anti-gay bigotry in our present day is that it's one of the last remaining Big Bigotries where it's still entirely socially acceptable in large segments of contemporary society, to offer intellectual justifications for it.

We don't any more, in mainstream society, hear or see people explaining why, really, they're not bigoted, but it just wouldn't be fair to the children to have a "mixed-race" marriage, or to marry a Jew, or whatever. Relatively few people would still offer that, outside of some non-insignificant pockets.

But, of course, in large chunks of America, particularly in religiously conservative slices, that remains perfectly "tolerant" discussion. It's disgusting, and enraging, and I wish I could do more about it.

So: "...most anti-gay arguments are actually as cruel and hurtful as gay people insist they are, even when self-declared non-bigoted straight people insist they're not meant to be."

Yes, absolutely. And, of course, intentions=\ effect, anyway.

not at all offended by David, Gary...thought it was a stunning skewering of a very silly response to a film.

"Ennis says "I ain't no queer" (stop reading if you haven't seen it yet..."


If you want to give a spoiler warning, YOU HAVE TO PUT IT BELOW THE SAME SCREEN@$@#$%!

Here: don't read this, too.

And this. Don't read it.

See, that worked, right?

I see your point though (and in retrospect, theophylact's)...I could have been more clear about that.

"...not at all offended by David, Gary...thought it was a stunning skewering of a very silly response to a film."

Ah, okay. I thought it was sharp and funny, as well (and I've yet to see a minute of Curb Your Enthusiasm, although it's on my 400+ Netflix queue). But it was impossible to tell just from "amazing."

My film note of the hour: I'm sure Peter Jackson's Kong would have had a much larger audience if Kong captured a cute cowboy and they demonstrated their mutual love; shame he didn't think of it, don't you think?

Beautiful post.

To the extent that it's possible to compartmentalize one's reactions to a film, my partner and I both had various quibbles with BBM as undifferentiated "filmgoers"--he had "technical" problems with things like the makeup used to illustrate the "aging" of the characters; I thought the film was simply a bit too long and dragged in spots. Such that we both came away with the view that it's a very good film that reaches for greatness but doesn't quite make it.

Our visceral reactions as gay men, however, were very different: we both left the film feeling bulldozed, emotionally drained, devastated. On that level it's a massively powerful film.

My overall response was similar to yours U.K.

I didn't shed a single tear in the movie (had the same make-up and plodding plot problems), but still found myself lying awake at 4:40 the next morning unable to stop replaying it over and over. The final scene is like a freight train through the heart.

You mean the final scene where Ennis's daughter tells him her news? Cause that seemed a little tacked on to me. I thought the makeup was great, actually -- I don't usually notice makeup quality in movies but here I thought they did a very good job.

My partner did too Jeremy, but I thought as U.K. about the make-up.

Not just the daughter, but the final, final scene with the shirts and the window and his final words...I found that devastating.

Wait! wait! I really want to go on reading the comments to this gorgeous post, but I haven't seen the movie yet!

Edward: I'm about to repeat myself on several counts, but: I miss you, and I really want to dance at your wedding.

I hate that people can't see why it matters that you should be able to get married to the person you love. As though any other sort of marriage was a perfectly acceptable substitute. And as though thinking that it was in some way involves "respect for families". Or respect for anything else, for that matter.

I hate that people can't see why it matters that you should be able to get married to the person you love.

Hilzoy, I don't have the stomach to go too far into devil's advocate territory here, but I think there's a very simple (and simplistic) response to what you're saying: Whatever the two men in BBM might have felt for each other, it couldn't possibly be called "love." "Love" is something that happens between a man and a woman. Problem solved.

I married a white American citizen whose Republican, conservative parents used to warn--back in the early 90's--against dating anyone outside of her own race. Things have changed since then, and much to my benefit, they have shed themselves of any "public" vestiges of racial objections. In fact, in spite of the occasional (inevitable) tension about politics, we get along quite well, and they seem to like me and love me quite a bit. (I, in turn, have very good feelings towards them.)

My sense is that today, if confronted by someone with the same kind of racial preoccupations they used to have, my mother-in-law would probably react much like the parents in the Family Stone. Whatever her earlier misgivings, and even if she understands those misgivings as entirely reasonable if not always well-founded, she would probably regard public disclosure of those misgivings as inappropriate and socially reprehensible.

My in-laws, my wife, and I actually watched the Family Stone together, and I wonder what they thought of that moment Edward points out (when the father says "enough!"). We didn't really talk about it at all, but my sense is that the connection must have been entirely clear to them. I hope it was.

I guess, one could argue that Oscar Wilde loved marriage more than anybody.

He sure didn’t let lust ruin his marriage.

My son (not gay, but very liberal) wants me to go with him to see BBM and I probably will. I (not gay, open-minded, politically moderate) have no real problem with gay marriage, etc., but truthfully would find a gay love story to be somewhat unpleasant. It seems likely to me that I have been conditioned to feel this way, but nevertheless I know that that is how I feel. I also dislike horror movies. I find them unpleasant and I don't go to see them.


A) I am a bigot.
B) I am a suppressed homosexual.
C) I need therapy.
D) This is normal for a straight man.

Take your pick. :)

That's a really good question, LaurenceB. I'm not at all sure what it means that straight men would feel uncomfortable watching BBM. I think it's ok to go get popcorn during the only graphic sex scene (although there are more minutes of straight sex I think than gay sex, so you might want to just close your eyes and not miss the other moments). OR, it might be as painless for you as watching straight sex is for me. You probably won't know until you see.

If it's not just the sex, but the idea of tenderness between men that makes you uncomfortable, then you might skip lunch and buy a series of small popcorn bags. By the end I was totally unconscious of the fact that I was watching two men...seriously....I was just watching a couple in love. Of course, I'm not your average American viewer, so...

Ok, fine, this is a spoiler thread. Thanks a lot, folks.


You haven't seen it yet Gary?

It is not out here yet (and by the time it is I will most likely have forgotten all the spoilerific hints).
But first I want to take the opportunity to wish you a happy 2006, Edwardundescore. I hope we see more of you this year!!

And secondly I want to say that I really don't understand why people cannot see that the urge to marry and have children is part of a person, not of whom (s)he falls in love with. Some hetero's really want to, others are not in a hurry. Some gays really want to, others are not in a hurry.

But those that really want to: can you imagine someone telling you that you cannot marry your spouse (if you have one), or are not allowed to try to have children?

Re feeling uncomfortable during the sex scene, what I (straight man) felt was *radically* uncomfortable during the kissing shots -- I don't think however that was Me-being-uncomfortable-about-2-men-kissing, I think the characters were presented (throughout the movie but especially in these shots) as uncomfortable in their own skin, trying to find some release in one another. Like the way Jack and Ennis would claw blindly at each other when they tried to embrace -- its seemed to me like they were trying to break through the loathing inculcated by their upbringing.

Straight female, saw it yesterday. Good movie. I didn't have a fit abt the "sex" scenes - they were tame compared to other movies out there. Frankly I'd rather watch Heath and Jake make out that Nicholson and Bates in a hot-tub.

I asked two other desparate housewifes types if they wanted to come see it. The first was raring to go and thought it was a better movie than I did. The second said she wouldn't dream of seeing it, that it would turn her stomach. Unbelievably, homophobia is still rampant, even among people I know.

Age-o-phobia is still okay, on my books. If the pot-bellied seniors want to get it on, they should do so off-camera.

You haven't seen it yet Gary?

Lots of us haven't. Between winter colds and holiday stuff, my wife and I haven't been to a movie in weeks.


There. That oughta do it.

Anyway, for those who have seen the film, assuming any of them are still reading, I just want to second Jeremy's observation, because to me it was one of the most interesting aspects of the film. There are moments of real tenderness between the two men, but they're not really sexual moments. And what little sex is depicted was, to my mind, not only not particularly hot, but barely even erotic at all, such was the sense of desperation, bordering on a kind of rage, that seemed to underlie it.

All of which makes the notion that the film constitutes some kind of "propaganda" that much more ludicrous.

These are the only two movies I have seen in the past month, and your essay was nothing short of profound. I found it from a link on the NYT-Larry David op-ed. You expressed feelings I couldn't decipher until you put them in words for me. Thanks. [Gay, and wish I felt better about that.]

I'm not rushing out to see Brokeback Mtn. primarily because lovers-tragically-divided stories aren't my cup of tea. He=German, she=French; he=giant ape, she=human; he and he=closeted gay, whatever. They all make me sad enough that overcoming the bar for paying for the experience is too hard. I may eventually be lured into sadness for the sake of cinematography.

Still, I'm thrilled that the movie is generating a cultural dialogue--and I think it is. And that said, Edward_, my respect for you went up another couple of notches for your response to LawrenceB.

I just thought I'd drop a quick note to echo the sentiment of jackmormon regarding the respectful discourse in these comments, as led by Edward. Truly outstanding.

You expressed feelings I couldn't decipher until you put them in words for me. Thanks. [Gay, and wish I felt better about that.]

Been there, RevolutionaryRob. Unfortunately, there's no one-size-fits-all way to not feel that way. Well-adjusted gay friends (especially couples) are perhaps your best first step though. Thanks for the kind words on the post.

To all those who have read these messages and haven't seen the movie: nothing was stated that will ruin the experience. There is so much more to the movie as a whole than the parts that have been touched on here.

As for Edward's thoughtful comment to RevolutionaryRob: when I met my cousin's partner of 20 years, along with their friends and other couples (and was finally able to see beyond the misrepresentation of what it is to be gay), there was no going back to living the painful lie or beating myself up anymore. My only regret is that I waited until I was 35 years old.

saw it two days ago. (fortunately I am married to a man who was man enough to see it.) oh my goodness, what a movie.

I think it's impossible to discuss well without spoiling so I won't.

I did enjoy Jon Stewart's little bit the other night about "Brokeback Senate." This was prompted by Robert Byrd's recent statement that "I love Ted Stevens, but I love the Senate more."

I haven't seen the movie, but my brother gave me the Annie Proulx short story for Christmas, which I read the very same day, so I'm familiar with all of the plot.
Has anyone else read this, and not just seen it?

I am responding to Edward's Jan 3 post "That's a really good question, LaurenceB. I'm not at all sure what it means that straight men would feel uncomfortable watching BBM." I'm a little late, yes, but I was directed to your web site only today by the New York Times (after I read L. David's piece).

I'm a middle-aged woman. I have an extremely non-ordinary personal history, having traveled and lived abroad extensively (e.g., Central Asia for three years). I have experienced pretty much every kind of heterosexual activity, with more than 200 partners.

Here's my theory about straights watching gay sex. I have never had sex with a woman (other than sharing a man, which doesn't count because we never touched each other). Watching explicit lesbian sex on film is usually quite arousing for me, and I accept that.

What I think is going on for many straight men is that gay sex is arousing for them, too, but they cannot accept that. And they don't even want to think about why they can't. All resulting in extreme emotional discomfort.

A woman, Norah Vincent, I think, recently published a book about the 18 mos. she spent as a man. The most telling and affecting thing she found is the emotional difference between women and (straight) men. Those men are totally controlled by peer pressure. They are not allowed to express emotion to other men, maybe not even to themselves. I can't imagine how terrible it would feel to such a man to admit he found gay sex sexy.

You can't tell him that the arousal doesn't mean he has to DO it. It's not about that. It's The Code That Real Men Live By.

Really makes me glad I'm a voluptuously emotional, raging, laughing, screaming, crying, smiley woman. I hope that as gay men you are able to have an emotional life as rich and expressive.

A bei gezunt. (wishes for good health in Yiddish)

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