« Risk and Basketball | Main | The Pajama Game »

An Oscar Opinion

Everyone keeps thinking I'm joking when I say this, but I think Brokeback Mountain needed more hot gay sex. Yes, yes, yes the story's about love and longing and universal themes. But it's also, at some level, about really hot sex. If it isn't, important elements of the plot don't really make sense. The dudes never break out their fishing rods on all these "fishing trips" so presumably they're up to . . . something, right? What gets portrayed is a lot of staring into the middle distance. That's fine, but obviously they were getting it on a lot. It's not "confusing" or whatever that they aren't portrayed fucking constantly, since it's all implied, but it seemed like a bit of a gutless move. Yes, it's politically defensible to try to water down the gay sex as much as possible to give the movie broad appeal, but it's aesthetically cowardly. So says I.

The other thing is that they managed to take the Brokeback short story, which is short (ergo, "short story") and turn it into a long movie. The result is to radically change the pace from rapid to languid, which is rarely a good idea. It also contributes to the aforementioned problem. The need isn't necessarily for more hot man-on-man action, but for said action to be a higher proportion of what you see. After all, you "get" the basic plot point -- these dudes aren't going to be very happy with their lots in life -- pretty quickly, it doesn't require intensive exposition. Also, like everyone, I think there was too much crap about the sheep at the beginning. Who cares? Sheep are the boringest thing imaginable.

March 5, 2006 | Permalink

TrackBack

TrackBack URL for this entry:
http://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d8345160fd69e200d83425df3353ef

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference An Oscar Opinion:

» Less Sheep, More Hot Gay Sex from Bloodless Coup
That's what the flaming heterosexual Matthew Yglesias thinks Brokeback Mountain really needed. I'd say he's probably right. If such a deeply passionate movie about impossible longing were made about a couple of heterosexuals, the sex would have likely ... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 5, 2006 2:17:47 PM

» Less Sheep, More Hot Gay Sex from Bloodless Coup
That's what the flaming heterosexual Matthew Yglesias thinks Brokeback Mountain really needed. I'd say he's probably right. If such a deeply passionate movie about impossible longing were made about a couple of heterosexuals, the sex would have likely ... [Read More]

Tracked on Mar 5, 2006 2:29:09 PM

Comments

Sheep are the boringest thing imaginable.

Really? Have you seen this?

Posted by: SomeCallMeTim | Mar 5, 2006 1:26:16 PM

They're really stupid, too.

(Sheep, not The American Prospect. They're really smart.)

Posted by: teofilo | Mar 5, 2006 2:08:38 PM

I disagree about the pace. "Brokeback Mountain" is a pretty leisurely short story. The main thing the adaptation did was make explicit some stuff that was implicit in the story -- I mean, the characters' family lives, we already established it failed to make some other stuff explicit -- and added some material that wasn't there at all (mainly also about the families).

But then, Yglesias apparently drinks a lot of coffee, and I drink none. I like languid.

Posted by: Matt Weiner | Mar 5, 2006 2:29:22 PM

It wouldn't have been as miserable and frustrating if it had been fast.

Also, the amount of hot sex may have been disproportionate given what was depicted in the movie, but over the course of undepicted time in the movie, it was basically accurate.

Boo hoo, heterosexuals had to sit around deeply frustrated, bored, and languid for 2 hours. Your plight must be unbearable.

The movie is SUPPOSED to be that way. It helps you understand the characters' experiences.

Posted by: MDtoMN | Mar 5, 2006 5:25:48 PM

Put more hot gay sex in Brokeback Mountain and suddenly it becomes an unusually expensive entry in the nation's gay & lesbian film festivals, doesn't make $100 million, doesn't get national critical attention, doesn't become a cultural icon, and doesn't make it to the Oscars. Or did I miss the Best Picture nomination for Mysterious Skin?

Also, it doesn't make a lot of sense to put explicit eroticism into a movie about repressed love.

Posted by: S. Tarzan | Mar 5, 2006 5:43:35 PM

"Yes, it's politically defensible to try to water down the gay sex as much as possible to give the movie broad appeal, but it's aesthetically cowardly."

Of course, if there were more hot gay sex, it wouldn't be on track to win a bunch of Oscars™...

Posted by: Petey | Mar 5, 2006 5:45:30 PM

S. Tarzan,

It's rude to pre-plagiarize.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 5, 2006 5:50:02 PM

All "mainstream" movies, regardless if they have a specific orientation, need more hot sex. I wouldn't advocate returning to the sexist 80s when actresses were expected to do nude but actors weren't, but anything's gotta be better than the current bluenose regime where a jiggle shot constitutes "explicit sexual content."

Of course, if Brokeback Mountain had raunchy gay sex, it would necessarily feature at least one dick, which is a taboo-shattering that would deserve every validation it could get, including the little gold cut guy.

Posted by: Eric Scharf | Mar 5, 2006 6:41:29 PM

Petey told you to take the 7 - 1 odds on Crash...

Posted by: Petey | Mar 5, 2006 11:27:50 PM

Eh, that's Ang Lee for ya... lots of staring into the distance.

Posted by: latts | Mar 5, 2006 11:58:32 PM

It's a chick flick, dude. A boy-on-boy chick flick. What do you expect?

Posted by: Glaivester | Mar 6, 2006 12:22:07 AM

Shit, 'Mysterious Skin' had my vote, it was the best movie I saw this year, although I saw on IMDB there's disagreement about whether it was 2004 or 2005.

Joseph Gordon-Levitt kicked ass, although Michelle Trachtenberg's line readings could charitably described as flat. I think she's heading for being remembered as the girl who played Buffy's sister. Elizabeth Shue was good and Brady Corbet was just as good as Third Rock from the Sun boy, although less showy.

Posted by: witless chum | Mar 6, 2006 9:09:43 AM

"Shit, 'Mysterious Skin' had my vote, it was the best movie I saw this year"

I thought Mysterious Skin was good, but if you liked it, I'd recommend checking out Araki's earlier movies. Some of them are really, really good. Doom Generation and Nowhere are his masterpieces.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 6, 2006 9:33:42 AM

ehn, I've not seen the movie, so I've no right to comment on it, and I may also be biased by being a girl, but I still reserve my right to disagree. It sounds like what Matt really found problematic about the movie was that it didn't sufficiently convey the passion and level of connection between the two men. But you don't have to show sex to do that. Frustrated and unfulfilled passion is an entire literary and cinematic subgenre that thrived even in much more prudish times. Indeed, there are even great works about unconsumated passion. It's the writing and performances that get across the passion even in the most ostentibly nonsexual of settings or exchanges that demand the greatest respect from me.

I mean, you can have hot sex with lots of people, but, to paraphrase something Petey wrote on here before, "it's that interpersonal stuff" that really makes compelling passion.

Posted by: flippantangel | Mar 6, 2006 3:40:53 PM

"I mean, you can have hot sex with lots of people, but, to paraphrase something Petey wrote on here before, "it's that interpersonal stuff" that really makes compelling passion."

Well, yes and no. In real life, yes. But the rules are different in art. I try to stay far away from guns in real life, but they tend to work very well in movies.

Now, I'm a big fan of Douglas Sirk movies from the 50's, which are elaborately sublimated stories of love. They're wonderful. But Brokeback is a bit of a different animal.

What makes Brokeback special is that it's a message picture that's never really been done before. The best analogy I can come up with would be to make an interracial romance in 1958, and never show the two leads kissing because you'll freak out your audience too badly.

That's the objection to the lack of any hot, gay sex. It's not absent for reasons of art. It's absent to not freak out the audience too badly.

Now, in one sense, there's nothing wrong with that. By blazing new ground, it prepares a future in which a mainstream movie could contain hot, gay sex. But it also ends up making a horribly tame movie.

Of course, I hate about 80% of the movies that get nominated for best picture Oscars™, so I'm not their preferred audience anyway.

Posted by: Petey | Mar 6, 2006 5:24:03 PM

What makes Brokeback special is that it's a message picture that's never really been done before.

I'm not arguing with you, I'm just curious whether it's a "message" picture because it happens to be about gay cowboys or because everyone involved in it explicitly intended it to be that? Was the original short story a "message" short story, or did it only become a "message" event when it became a movie, where more people might pay attention.

And, yes, Petey, I do know the difference between real life and art, although I do sometimes entertain fancies that mix the two up a bit.

Posted by: flippantangel | Mar 6, 2006 8:25:56 PM

In the current political climate, it's a message movie because any movie in which same-sex attraction is a major element is going to be _perceived_ as a message movie no matter what those involved in making the movie intended.

Remaking 'you've got mail' with two men in the leads and changing nothing else in the script (except some pronouns) would be perceived as a 'message movie'.

Posted by: michael farris | Mar 7, 2006 1:30:09 AM

I thought You've Got Mail was already a message movie about the evils of behemoth big box category killer stores destroying all the charming little independent merchants.

But perhaps they stepped on that point a bit with the AOL sponsorship.

Posted by: R.J. Lehmann | Mar 7, 2006 10:59:20 PM

Yeah, I thought of that after hitting 'send', but I couldn't think of any other well-known insipid romantic comedies. Re-write that with "Remaking (insipid romantic comedy of your choice)"

Posted by: michael farris | Mar 8, 2006 2:00:02 AM

I found the movie just boring.

The message I got? It's really, really boring to be gay.

And most people don't know the difference between cowboys and sheepherders.

Posted by: Opinionated Bastard | Mar 10, 2006 5:21:56 PM

The comments to this entry are closed.