Todd Seavey’s recent comment on his blog on why he saw Brokeback Mountain, “it was a lady’s idea,” prompted me to write these long-simmering thoughts.
I think that there is a whole little volume waiting to be written on the phenomenon of women pressuring straight men into seeing Brokeback Mountain. Here’s my contribution.
What’s the point in a woman asking a straight man to see this movie? Is it an attempt to diminish a man’s self-confidence, or his sexuality? Is it a test that men are ultimately failing by suffering through the movie. Is she expecting some revelation that will turn him on? I cannot imagine the allure of seeing a gay sex cowboy movie, but that’s just me. In fact, I find the whole movie’s premise viscerally revolting. I suppose I am supposed to prove my enlightened tolerance by enduring two hours of queer cornholing, but I just can’t suppress my nausea long enough to do it.
What I’m sure of is that all of these poor souls that had to endure this sodomy-fest in Big Sky country didn’t dare to suggest a follow-up with a good quality pornographic movie, perhaps along the lines of the original Devil in Miss Jones, or Caligula, both of which are excellent movies of the highest cultural pedigree. Okay, maybe The Devil in Miss Jones is lacking in Caligula’s impressive list of contributors, but it is a damned fine movie, inspired by Sartre’s No Exit and featuring an oiled up woman making love to a snake, which seems to me much more appealing than two rawhide buddies playing swallow-the-worm on a fishing trip.
I am sympathetic towards homosexuals’ desire to come out of the closet and be accepted by the mainstream. I find the criminalization of private homosexual conduct fundamentally repugnant, and I like show tunes. But I also find most homosexual conduct personally and viscerally revolting, and I am deeply suspicious of a political and cultural movement almost exclusively centered around a sexual deviancy that I regard as fundamentally immature and perverse.
I do not believe that gay people should be jailed or shunned for being gay, and I have been, at times, amused or even edified in encountering instances of the homosexual lifestyle. I imagine any well-traveled heteresexual man with a cosmopolitan set of friends and acquaintances, like myself, has sometimes found himself in the minority of a group and acquiesced in attending at some establishment or event with a largely gay clientele. And as much as we might have enjoyed ourselves, we also had a vague sense of disgust, just as I suppose a thoroughly gay man might feel great unease at the sight of a pretty female pudenda.
Going back to Brokeback Mountain, it is a cultural cliche founded in truth that men and women have very different movie-going tastes. Men don’t want to be dragged to anything starring Meryl Streep, and women tend to shudder at the prospect of any movie starring Bruce Willis. But Brokeback Mountain takes it a step further. It is not a question of being annoyed or bored, but of being viscerally and morally disgusted. A well-reviewed movie recently came out, Zoo, sympathetic to zoophiles (specifically, that is, about actual people(men) who have sex with horses). I doubt that it will have the same wide audience as Brokeback. I don’t even know what that signifies. I wonder how many men, pressured into seeing it by women seeking to expand their horizons, would put their foots down and refuse to see the movie on the grounds that it is utterly revolting.
I just know that most people, if they are going to see a movie with a person they are attracted to, would like it to be one potentially titillating, because no movie can really compete with the follow-up of carnal romance. So how is Brokeback Mountain going to achieve that for a heterosexual couple? It’s going to turn the man off, and if a woman wants that, she mustn’t think much of him as a man.