Skip to comments.Was There a 'Brokeback' Backlash?
Posted on 03/06/2006 5:35:10 PM PST by Aussie Dasher
NEW YORK -- We chatted about it, joked about it, argued about it, spoofed it. "Brokeback Mountain" was everywhere in our popular culture - yet it lost the big Oscar it was supposed to win.
Was there a "Brokeback Backlash," or was "Crash" just the worthy contender that came on strong in the final Best Picture stretch? There were as many theories being offered up Monday as there are "Brokeback" parodies on the Internet.
One theory was that, despite the hoopla, the endless late-night monologues and the clever imitations, people (Academy voters, that is) didn't really love the soulful saga of two gay cowboys - and perhaps even felt uncomfortable with its themes.
"Sometimes people pretend to like movies more than they actually do," said Richard Walter, who heads the screenwriting program at UCLA's film school. "But this film wasn't really THAT good. What it tried to do was great, sensational. But what it actually accomplished wasn't so great. You can't really buy the love story."
Film critic Kenneth Turan, writing in the Los Angeles Times, said the problem wasn't with the film's quality. Rather, he said, "you could not take the pulse of the industry without realizing that this film made people distinctly uncomfortable."
"In the privacy of the voting booth ... people are free to act out the unspoken fears and unconscious prejudices that they would never breathe to another soul, or likely, acknowledge to themselves. And at least this year, that acting out doomed 'Brokeback Mountain."'
Gay activists did not necessarily agree.
"I don't think it has anything to do with the subject matter," said Joe Solmonese, president of the Human Rights Campaign, the largest national gay rights group. He noted that "Brokeback" and "Crash" both dealt with "tough issues like indifference and intolerance."
"I was certainly disappointed," Solmonese said. "But I would trade that Oscar for all the positive conversations that this movie spurred between parents and their gay children, or between employees and their gay co-workers. That impact transcends any accolades."
Some people focused on the demographics of the typical Academy voter: older, and city-dwelling. Author and "Brokeback" co-screenwriter Larry McMurtry thought that was key to his film's loss.
"Members of the Academy are mostly urban people," McMurtry, who won the adapted screenplay prize with Diana Ossana, said backstage at Sunday night's ceremony. "We are an urban nation. We are not a rural nation. It's not easy even to get a rural story made."
McMurtry could have added that not only are Academy voters urban, they also are from Los Angeles - the city that is the heart of "Crash," a racial drama depicting the intertwining experiences of an array of characters over 36 hours. The film, featuring a huge and accomplished cast ("Raise your hand if you're NOT in 'Crash,"' host Jon Stewart quipped to the crowd), also won for original screenplay and film editing.
"Brokeback" director Ang Lee, who won the directing prize, said he hadn't a clue why the film didn't take the best-picture award. "They didn't vote for it," he said. "I don't know. You asked me one question, and I don't know the answer."
But his brother had an opinion. Lee Kang, speaking in Tapei, Taiwan, suggested American bias was involved. "When the locals are voting, they will have this, whether you call it nationalism or something else," he said.
"Crash" writer/director Paul Haggis, for his part, said he hadn't "for a second" believed the whispers, which grew louder as Oscar night approached, that "Crash" had the momentum to overtake "Brokeback."
"I didn't believe any of that nonsense," he said. "In fact, we were so shocked. I mean, we're still trying to figure out if we got this."
"Crash" came out to mixed reviews in May, considered much too early for a film to stay in voters' minds. But Lionsgate Films reminded voters and critics of the movie's potency by flooding them with copies of the DVD late in 2005.
In winning over the heavily favored "Brokeback," the film evoked major upsets of the past, most recently the 1999 triumph of "Shakespeare in Love" over "Saving Private Ryan." Another famous underdog champ was "Chariots of Fire," which in 1982 beat both Warren Beatty's historical epic, "Reds," and the family story "On Golden Pond."
One disturbing difference for the Academy: a lot more viewers tuned in to see those upsets. An estimated 38.8 million people watched Sunday's telecast on ABC _ down 8 percent from last year and the second-worst showing in nearly two decades, according to Nielsen Media Research. Except for the 2003 count of 33 million viewers - when "Chicago" took the best-picture award - viewership hadn't dipped below 40 million since 1987.
So what is to be learned from Sunday night's upset result? Not much, says Walter, the film professor. You just really never know what Academy voters are going to do.
"It's just a crapshoot," Walter said. "You go to Vegas and you put your money on number 17.
"There is NO lesson to be learned from all this. It doesn't mean a thing."
I bet a friend that Crash would win, and that the best Bareback could hope for was Best Director.
I stopped paying attention when "Titanic" won !
There were no "cowboys" in Brokeback Mountain. They were "sheep herder boys".
The people who place so much emphasis on every "message film" don't understand that many people have real thoughts and real impressions that may not follow neatly "on message"...... also, even within the illustrious "Academy" there may be a lot of people who just met the subject with a BIG YAWN....... like who really cares about some artificial story of two sheep herders banging each other in a tent?? I mean, who really gives a flying XXXX?
I was so tired of the hype that if I'd been in the Academy I'd have been ready to vote for "Anything but Brokebutt Mountain" just out of disgust at being told by the PC-mavens how to vote........
"Brokeback Mountain" was written by the writers of "Lonesome Dove", the television miniseries.
If it weren't for the gay element (which gives relevance to the movie), it would just be a soap opera, like "Lonesome Dove", "Knots Landing", etc. Not even as good as "Dallas" or "Desperate Housewives."
something something something coitus interruptus something something something
Don't know, don't care.
Like someone said, "the five films didn't gross together ($250M) what Narnia did by itself. ($800M) And, now the directors of StumpBrokeSheep are claiming "rural discrimination" against the academy! That's funny!
Who wants to go see a movie about two cowpokes having anal sex?
I saw a couple dozen "news" articles saying how intolerant types were protesting the movie, threatening etc, and one article that actually found somebody that had something actually bad to say about the movie. And all that was was the principal of the religious school that one of the actors attended said the school didn't approve of the movie or the actors choice to appear in it. OOOOOH!, what venom.
Anyways, typical Hollywood. All flash, no substance.
At least the Brokeback 'screenplay' was written by the 'Lonesome Dove' writers. The Brokeback 'book' was written by someone else.
It sounds like they just cloned "Same Time Next Year" and gayed it up.
As they rode past the flock one day, all they heard was "daaaaady, daaaaady"!
What kind of intolerance? Were the sheep bleating "faaags, faaaags, faaaags" throughout the entire movie?
Well, we don't.
And to think, just this weekend I read a review of this past year's blockbusters, that claimed Narnia's earnings were only mediocre at best. I'm sure the folks at Disney and Walden Media have been crying all the way to the bank :D
How do you do that in craps?
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