Friday, January 13, 2006

Good As You: 'Brokeback' uber-critic books another Fox News gig

From the excellent blog Good As You I see that fox news is booking an idiot bigot fearmonger to trash 'Brokeback Mountain'.

Suprising? No.

The guy's review of the movie is just as predictable. Evil Hollywood is sneakily manipulating us to not hate homos, when if they were honest, they would really be portraying the gays as pedophiles and drug addicts. Cutting edge stuff, eh? Throw in some nazi references, cry 'what about the women and kids who got hurt?', and invoke rape. Insert anti-smoking message.

Let's look at a little section:

"Yes, the talents of Hollywood's finest are brought together in a successful attempt at making us experience Ennis's suffering, supposedly inflicted by a homophobic society. Heath Ledger's performance is brilliant and devastating. We do indeed leave the theater feeling Ennis's pain. Mission accomplished."

Credit where credit is due: he at least seems to seen the movie, unlike damn near every other retarded review I have read. But uh, "supposedly inflicted by a homophobic society"? What do you propose caused the difficulties in the film? The outcome wouldn't have been different had it been set in a homo friendly society? I guess you can also blame them for being born into socio-economic settings which didn't afford them the opportunity to escape their unfriendly surroundings and build a life in a supportive community, like I was able to, but that doesn't make the fag-hostile backdrop any less culpable for having no place for these fellows other than in the closet or in the ground.

a little more? ok:

"Lost in all of this, however, are towering, life-and-death realities concerning sex and morality and the sanctity of marriage and the preciousness of children and the direction of our civilization itself. So please, you moviemakers, how about easing off that tight camera shot of Ennis's suffering and doing a slow pan over the massive wreckage all around him? What about the years of silent anguish and loneliness Alma stoically endures for the sake of keeping her family together, or the terrible betrayal, suffering and tears of the children, bereft of a father? None of this merits more than a brief acknowledgment in "Brokeback Mountain.""

Uh, you kind of have to be special to not see all the wreckage and anguish in this movie. Alma's suffering isn't exactly whitewashed, but also, true to life, she is able to remarry. She has other places to turn, a community to support her in her pain and she and their children are not left abandoned. The community that would rip Ennis to shreds or send him packing if his pain were public offers her other opportunities to move on and have a place.

And a quick aside: the whole cult of children makes me want to strangle someone. "...the preciousness of children..."? WTF? Let me go puke.

back to kupelian:

"What is important to the moviemakers, rather, is that the viewer be made to feel, and feel, and feel again as deeply as possible the exquisitely painful loneliness and heartache of the homosexual cowboys – denied their truest happiness because of an ignorant and homophobic society."

In a perfect world, this wouldn't be a political film. It isn't specifically set up to be one. It is about doomed love like most great Hollywood romance/tragedies. That it is two men should be incidental. That is how it was filmed, that is how it comes across when you watch it. It isn't intentionally some big activist film. But anything openly gay is political, intentionally or not. Ang Lee didn't go out of his way to shove some fable about ignorant and homophobic society down our throats; we live in a largely ignorant and homophobic society and so the characters' struggles resonate and feel very real to the viewer. That isn't Hollywood magic; it is an audience whose sense of empathy and recognition aren't crippled by bigotry.

one last chunk:

"Thus are the Judeo-Christian moral values that formed the very foundation and substance of Western culture for the past three millennia all swept away on a delicious tide of manufactured emotion. And believe me, skilled directors and actors can manufacture emotion by the truckload. It's what they do for a living."

And dear sir, what do you do for a living?

As far as the Judeo-Christian moral values being swept away blah blah blah... just shut the hell up. The foundation of Judeo-Christian values are the accumulation of knowledge and the application of reason, grace, and forgiveness in interaction with others. Recognizing our own personal flaws and our common humanity. Expanding our experience and using this expansion to allow us to reach further out into the world. Sure there are other bits to Judeo-Christian values, but when you said the ones which have been integral to the fabric of Western progress for three millenia, I assume you aren't talking about the genocidal and racist chunks of the Bible. I guess not being able to exercise the previously popular Biblically-proscribed bigotries as openly as society once concidered acceptable, some folks are desperate to not conceed a last few bigotries and accept them as their own instead of scapegoating God for their lack of empathy and discomfort with 'differnt'people.

1 comment:

KL said...

Very well written.

The neo-con backlash against this movie prompted me to write a review of my own. It's funny because what the conservatives often say "that it manipulates the audience into feeling empathy" is the exact opposite view I have. I found the lack of manipulation in this movie to be it's strongest trait. It is not overly dramatic or directed. The lack of emoting by the characters allows the viewer to ponder their inner life. Lee just puts the story out there, and the viewer is left to feel what they may.

At least in the article you are quoting it appears that guy admits to a certain tragic quality...whether he thinks he is coerced into feeling for Ennis or not. Perhaps instead of feeling duped or manipulated, he should consider his empathy is evidence of his own humanity.