05 February 2006

Deroy Murdock: The real lessons of Brokeback Mountain

In an column published on the Capitol Hill Blue site, Deroy Murdock explains why social conservatives should all see Brokeback Mountain.

Some excerpts:
Having lassoed eight Academy Award nominations, millions more Americans likely will see director Ang Lee's "Brokeback Mountain." Social conservatives should be among those who catch this widely lauded motion picture.

Socio-cons probably have sidestepped this so-called gay cowboy movie. Too bad. While it hardly screams, "family values," "Brokeback" engages profound issues that merit consideration by those who think seriously about the challenges that families face.

Stylistically, socio-cons need not fear "Brokeback" as a didactic, in-your-face, gay screed. "We're here. We're queer" it is not. Nor is this film a flamboyant camp-fest, like the flighty but hilarious "The Birdcage" or much of "The Producers," both coincidentally starring Nathan Lane.

Indeed, as a romance between two thoroughly masculine ranch hands, "Brokeback" begins to reverse the damage caused by "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy" and similar offerings that reinforce the stereotype that gay men are indispensable when one needs to select fabulous neckties or striking pastels for stunning interiors. How sad that such entertainment still elicits laughs, even as most Americans would be justifiably outraged at any show titled "Jewish Guy with a Banker's Eye" or "The Mexican Gardening Hour."

Beyond equating same-sex affection with manliness, "Brokeback" addresses important matters on the political agenda.


"Brokeback Mountain" should prompt social conservatives to ponder whether it is good family policy to encourage gay men to live lives that are traditional yet untrue. Would honest gay marriages be less destructive than deceitful straight ones? I think so. Many disagree. Even if they oppose it, however, seeing this film may give heterosexual marriage proponents a better insight into why so many Americans advocate homosexual marriage.

"Brokeback" also concerns homophobic violence. The October 1998 beating death of gay college student Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyo., the July 1999 fatal baseball-bat attack on gay Army Pvt. Barry Winchell, and the non-lethal assault on gay soldier Kyle Lawson last October, among other incidents, should remind filmgoers that this grave matter was not buried on the Great Plains decades ago.

Beautifully acted, photographed, written, and directed, "Brokeback Mountain" quietly but powerfully asks questions that are relevant today. Americans left, middle and right should see this touching, haunting love story, then give it the thorough mulling over it deserves.
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