Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Outrage, Brokeback & other breakfast links

It's been a near-spectacular week for outrage --- more footage from that conservative sting operation targeting Planned Parenthood and related self-righteous political hyperventilating; that absurd Minneapolis dentist whose hobby is killing rare critters who spent $55,000 to illegally "harvest" a beloved Zimbabwean lion named Cecil. 

Land sakes alive.

Makes all the hubbub 10 years ago when Ang Lee's landmark "Brokeback Mountain" was released seem like a whispered conversation.

There have been a number of Brokeback-related articles this week, too, about that anniversary --- all related to an excellent article in OUT magazine entitled, "Brokeback Mountain: 10 Years On," featuring decade-later reflections from several principal players --- Ang Lee, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Annie Proulx, Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry.

It's a film that's held up well on a number of fronts --- story line, screenplay, acting and production --- and that continues to move many. Often described as a "gay classic," it has transcended that classification.

It also was a revolutionary film for its time --- the first respectful mainstream, big-screen treatment of a gay love story. For those of us of an age to be contemporaries of the fictional Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist who grew up rural, too, it was especially evocative.

There were some complaints at the time about the fact neither Proulx's short story nor the film had happy endings. 

Here's what Proulx had to say (in an earlier interview not related to the OUT article): "... the problem has come since the film. So many people have completely misunderstood the story. I think it’s important to leave spaces in a story for readers to fill in from their own experience, but unfortunately the audience that “Brokeback” reached most strongly have powerful fantasy lives. And one of the reasons we keep the gates locked here is that a lot of men have decided that the story should have had a happy ending. They can’t bear the way it ends — they just can’t stand it. So they rewrite the story, including all kinds of boyfriends and new lovers and so forth after Jack is killed. And it just drives me wild. They can’t understand that the story isn’t about Jack and Ennis. It’s about homophobia; it’s about a social situation; it’s about a place and a particular mindset and morality. They just don’t get it...."

She's right of course --- but it always has been inevitable that the stark final scene in that battered old trailer would be followed by imaginary better days for fictional Ennis. Happy endings were rare then in real life and active fantasy lives, merely a way to deal with that.


Times have changed radically during the last 10 years, and Brokeback may have contributed a little to that. Happy endings for LGBTQ folks are on the rise, as is outrage among those who preferred the good old, bad old days when gay folks knew their place --- in various closets.

The Boy Scout organization this week eliminated its ban on adult gay leaders and employees in the general organization while allowing chartering organizations, especially churches, to continue their discriminatory ways. It's not clear this is going to work --- the LDS church, for example, expressed immediate alarm, including outrage that the action had been taken while its prophets were on summer break. Despite the fact the Scouts had given clear warnings that this was going to happen.

That's significant because LDS stakes sponsor local scouting organizations that account for roughly 17 percent of Boy Scouts nationwide.

Many consider the new scouting policies progress, but for another perspective read Michelangelo Signorile's piece, "Why the Boy Scouts' New Policy on Gays Sets a Dangerous Precedent."


Finally, here's a piece by James Peron related to a pre-Brokeback event in Wyoming, this one far too real: The 1998 murder at Laramie of Matthew Shepard and the new documentary, "Matthew Shepard Is a Friend of Mine."

The documentary is counterpoint to efforts that began almost immediately after Shepard's murder to discredit the young man and make him somehow responsible for his own death. 

No comments: