Will's Coffee House

John Dryden, Dramatist, Critic, Poet Laureate, and my ancestor, frequented a coffee house called Will's almost daily, where he would hold forth on sundry subjects with great wit and aplomb. Same deal here, only without the wit or aplomb.

Location: Large Midwestern City, Midwestern State, United States

I am a stranger in a sane land...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Gay Cowboys Eating Pudding

Little joke for you South Park aficianados, there. And I'm sure I'm not the first (or the millionth) to make it. Anyway--

Does it speak ill of me that I simply do not want to see Brokeback Mountain? I mean, as one born and raised in the City of the Angels, I've spent most of my life in the company of men--good friends, many of them--best friends in some cases--discovering, denying, indulging furtively in, denying again, indulging less furtively in, agonizing over, kinda enjoying, doing everything they can to avoid, and finally embracing their homosexuality. It really just isn't a story I need to see fictionalized. I'm sure their angst and torment and eye-opening discoveries are lovingly shot and lit, beautifully paced, and well written. But do I really have to give a good goddamn about these fictional versions of real people I know? I think not. I have already sat through this movie; it's just that my version didn't have chaps and boots and horses. Well, actually, come to think of it...No horses, though.

The fact of the matter is, narrative needs to be, I don't know, mildly original to be diverting. For me, at least. I mean, I can certainly understand why gay men might want to see this movie--after all, the success of staggeringly s***ty movies in the African-African community based solely on the fact that they're written by and star African-Americans argues that 'target audiences' can make a film--that communities denied cultural representation will flock to see any version of themselves onscreen--and if it's not an obnoxious or condescending version, so much the better. So if gay men want to see themselves portrayed as something other than the neutred 'best friend' godawful Nora Ephron movies, hey, I'm all for it.

But the film's not just big in the Rainbow-flagged circle. Presumably this is a film that's succeeding more widely because film critics have universally told us that it's brilliant. But they said that about Million Dollar Baby. And A Beautiful Mind. And Cinderella Man. And...sleepy yet? I know I am. These movies weren't brilliant--they just didn't suck. (Except for A Beautiful Mind: a more panderingly manipulative piece of tripe never crawled across the screen. Take it from one who knows: insanity is not cinematically compelling--go f*** yourself, Ron Howard.) And I can smell "it doesn't suck" on this movie. And I just...don't...care.

Look: I don't need to see another "plucky hero(ine) struggles against fashionable illness" movie. I don't need to see another Holocaust movie. (Trust me, ADL, we're not going to forget anytime soon. Honest.) I don't need to see another "tortured genius triumphs over/succumbs to substance abuse/the burden of his/her own genius" movie. (Yes, Ray Charles chased the dragon, Iris Murdoch went squirrelly, Jackson Pollack used a steering wheel the way he used a paintbrush, and Virginia Woolf drowned in the river, pulled to the bottom by the weight of her own nose. AND???) Stop. Making. These. Movies. Stop making movies that we wouldn't care about if you didn't tell us we had to. It's tiresome. Too much ink has been spilled on the wretched nature of the mindless blockbuster--and yes, everything Michael Bay touches is pitch, and we who see it are defiled thereby. But nobody talks about the "good movies" that leave us feeling just as hollow, just as frustrated, just as cheated out of our nearly 10 bucks. Stop making "important" movies. Stop making "good" movies. Stop making movies that critics will fawn over just because they'll feel guilty if they don't. (I mean, please--gay men? Cowboy setting? Could any self-respecting movie critic rip on this film without immediately receiving a hundred angry e-mails comparing him to the murderers of Matthew Shepherd? I think not.)

I know the Academy will vote for it. I know that tearful acceptance speeches pleading for people to hear its 'beautiful message of tolerance' will be made. I know that metrosexuals will suddenly feel an urge to buy stetsons. But count me out. If I want to experience the aestheticized misery of being gay in a bigoted world, I'll go reread Maurice or Giovanni's Room. Movies are supposed to take me away from my annoyances--this kind of flick just fuels them. There, I said it. Let the screams of "homophobe" fly.


Blogger phd me said...

Okay, so what does it say about me that I really liked this movie, that I found it more compelling than most male-female romance movies, that I did think it a beautiful film on many different levels. And I care not what the critics say about any film.

9:17 AM  
Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. said...

Well, it says many things: A. you're not the jaded, soul-soured individual I am, B. you've sat through fewer sessions of complaint with gay men than I (and I say, with confidence, that you have), C. most male-female romance movies suck, D. it's a chick movie disguised as a gay movie (no, not really--I'm just being horribly sexist and mean), and E. you're capable of making up your own mind, critics be damned. That last is really the best counter-argument--or rather, less a counter-argument than a valid point that removes all possibility of argument: you can't persuade someone into finding something enjoyable, just as you can't explain a joke into being funny. In short, it says that you're an individual with your own taste, and need justify yourself to no one. I shall, however, continue to lurk in my cave of jaded contempt for such things, because I am a horrible person. So there.

11:06 AM  
Blogger phd me said...

And we do so enjoy your witty expressions of disgust at the world. Luck away, I say!

12:57 PM  

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