In his latest column, and in his inimitable style, SF Gate's Mark Morford casts his spotlight on the real issues behind the controversy over Brokeback Mountain.
There is this theory, more of a truism really, tossed about like a fuzzy beach ball by the gurus and the masters and the mystics since Jesus was but a lint ball of possibility in the Great Belly Button of Time.
It goes like this: When human consciousness expands, for whatever reason and with whatever stimulation and even if you can only measure it in hairsbreadth, when our nasty habit of harsh judgment falls away and people begin to get a little bit, you know, lighter, there is always, as sure as there's someone who hates the sunrise, a clampdown, a recoil, a desperate need by the terrified and ever-paranoid conservative sect to, you know, put a quick stop to this so-called awakening crapola ASA-damn-P.
As soon as people begin realizing there's more to this brief little slice of existence than hate and war and the constant drumbeat of fear, there's always resistance, a reactive sneer at the idea that people might be waking up, even a little, and it's all in the name of protecting the status quo and defending the power base and not upsetting any of those carefully wrought prejudices, about making sure everyone stays quiet and doesn't ask any difficult questions of the Authority.
Religious groups make phone calls and complain. Big chunks of money get thrown into the pockets of sanctimonious politicians. Quasi-religious bonk-job leaders declare sex and music and gay people the source of all woes and vices and diseases. Ugly new laws get passed. And yes, bitter, convulsive justices get appointed to the Supreme Court.
Just like, you know, right now.
Witness, won't you, the confluent forces, the twin streams of conflicting culture represented by the amazing "Brokeback Mountain" movie phenomenon, a spare and sad and highly controversial little indie-style flick that is shaking up the homophobic community and raking in the Golden Globes and which now seems a shoo-in to win an Oscar or four, as compared and contrasted with, say, the humorless, depressing, dry-as-death Samuel Alito Supreme Court nomination. Oh yes, we have a match. Do you see it?
Look closer. On the one hand, here is the astounding reach and power of this rare and striking little film, an emotional tinderbox of a movie that, in the wrong hands or with the wrong marketing or if it had been off pitch by just this much, could have very easily been trashed and quickly dismissed, would have hobbled the careers of two up-and-coming hunk actors, been mocked across the board and demonized by the religious right as revolting gay propaganda, the source of all ills, proof of the existence of the devil himself.
Of course, the latter is still happening (isn't it always?), but the amazing thing is, no one seems to care. The screech of the right's homophobes is being easily drowned out by the fact that this astonishing, pitch-perfect film is now considered a movie that, quite literally, changes minds. Shifts perceptions. That moves the human experiment forward and makes people truly think about sex and gender and love and not in the way that, say, "Pride & Prejudice" makes you think because that kind of thinking is merely sweet and harmless, whereas "Brokeback" slaps bigotry and intolerance upside its knobby little head and induces heated discussions of the film's dynamics and politics and ideas of love over a bottle of wine and some deep curious sighing.
That's one side. On the other hand, here we have this relentless neocon spiritual death wish, as evidenced by the imminent appointment of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court, yet another dour white male judge who, by all evidence, will do everything in his power to keep America's spiritual, humanitarian and sexual progress -- you know, the exact kind of universal awareness illuminated by intensely intimate movies like "Brokeback" -- locked in the ironclad box of anti-women, anti-gay, power-über-alles conservative thinking for the next three decades or more.