Saturday, December 17, 2005

Why is this bravery?

Everyone who’s tired of the media—and Madonna—calling Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger “brave” for acting in Brokeback Mountain, please raise your hands. Then say it with me: “poppycock”

Quoting from the article by Charles Karel Bouley II, linked here.

And there’s the problem. The media seem to be running with a recurring theme around this movie: the “bravery” of the actors playing the roles, the “courage” it took them to do it, and the “speculation” about whether America is ready for a “gay cowboy movie.” Certainly not a position a liberal would take, so it befuddles me how the media is labeled “liberal.” Because the media has all but compared these two to war heroes for their portrayal of two closeted cowboys in a story of unrequited love and personal deception.

Say it with me: poppycock.

Now, there can be no doubt it took awhile for this movie to be made. And there can be no doubt there was a lot of fear surrounding it. And that’s what the media should be talking about. Instead of playing into the homophobia about how courageous it is to play gay, the media should be examining why it’s OK to play a rapist, a demon, a vampire from hell, a serial killer who eats his victims with fava beans and nice chianti, or any of the hundreds of sick, warped, twisted characters Hollywood puts out and we gobble up. Why do studios green-light films all the time that have gruesome plots or despicable characters, and why did this film languish for years?

Really interesting questions, and something I'd love to have an answer to. Gay actors play "straight" all the time, and it doesn't turn them straight, nor does it preclude their ability to play gay characters later. Why is it such a big deal for a straight actor to play a gay character, when it's not a big deal for him to play a child molester?

The article kinda bogs down in the middle with narrative about what the actors and the media are saying about the movie and what it all means. The finish is strong, and I recommend it, but you've got the gist already if you're short on time. What's wrong with our society that playing a gay character requires uncommon courage and playing a serial killer is routine? We, as a media-consuming society, are savvy enough to know that Billy Bob Thornton is NOT in real life the same as his Slingblade character, even though we may privately think he's a kinda scary dude. Why, then, is there some taint that follows and attaches itself to an actor after s/he plays a gay character? Why can't we accept that someone can act out a gay character without it "infecting" them, just like we accept that someone can act out a child molester character without it "infecting" them?

1 comment:

Brody said...

Remember the movie Philadelphia, same reaction-although Tom Hanks and Anthony Bandaras were playing gay, HIV + men.

Seems like history keeps repeating itself.....