Thursday, April 06, 2006

Do not forsake me, oh my darlin'

Still haven't seen Brokeback Mountain.

Back before the Oscars, when it was still in the theaters here, I was about all set to go, but then the blonde got up a posse of wives at her office and went with them, no husbands invited.

She told me when she got home that I ought to have been glad I didn't go.

I'd have been the only boy there.

When she and the wives lined up with their tickets, they found themselves waiting with quite a crowd, even though it was the second show a weeknight. The first show was still letting out. After the theater was emptied out and tidied up, an usher came to let the blonde and her posse and the rest in. The usher called, "Ok, ladies, no stampeding, please!"


The blonde and her posse looked at each other. Then they looked around.

There were no men in line with them.


Not one. Straight or gay.

Brokeback Mountain, chick flick?

No way, Jose.

But if men are staying away, maybe they're not all straight men, and maybe they're not staying away because of the gay love story. Maybe they're staying away because they think it's just a love story.

They don't know the truth.

While back you all convinced me that Brokeback is not mush.

But you forgot to tell me it's a western.

Dr. B. never dropped by. She could have told me it's a western. And she doesn't mean it's a western only because it has the three things that Col. Sherman Potter says make a movie great---horses, cowboys, and horses.

Dr. B. sees Ennis Del Mar standing tall in a long line of western heroes right there with High Noon's Will Kane and The Maginficent Seven's magnificent six ---Dr B points out that the kid played by Horst Buchholtz never does become one of the gang to make it seven, not because he never proves his worth, he does, but because in the end he does what a western hero never does. He allows himself to have emotional needs and to be guided by them.

Ennis Del Mar, Dr. B. says, does no such thing, and that's why he's the hero, tragic hero, of a western:

Brokeback, like every other Western out there, is about the suppression of male emotion for the greater social need. Will Kane just got married, but no mind: he has to take care of the bad guy, all by himself, because he is the hero, and he understands that his personal emotional needs are less important than the Greater Good. The Magnificent Seven are great because they realize that the decent, hard-working villagers' lives are more important than money...

...So here comes Brokeback. Same thing: Ennis has a committment to honor. His personal feeling violates not only his promise (he's engaged) but also all established social norms. The scene where Alma finds out about his relationship with Jack is such a huge deal, arguably central to the film, b/c it shows the problem: it's not just about homophobia (or else Ennis would just be a pure victim), it's about this kind of masculine responsibility where his personal needs and feelings have to be suppressed because, damnit, he has responsibilities.

Ennis is a tragic hero, but as Dr. B. says, westerns are essentially tragic.

I'm convinced.

Not gonna rush right out and rent the DVD though.

Have to wait till the summer when we're down on the Cape.

Uncle Merlin wants me to watch it with him.

We're going to make a real guys' night of it.

Unless the blonde insists on watching too.

After all, she thinks it's a chick flick.

So what makes a chick flick a chick flick anyway? What are some great ones that guys ought to see too?


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