Skip to comments.Many Straight Guys Say 'No Thanks' to 'Brokeback Mountain'
Posted on 01/05/2006 4:21:21 PM PST by Incorrigible
BY DRU SEFTON
It's true, the movie "Brokeback Mountain" does provoke what one researcher calls "a very strong ick factor" in some straight men.
What is it in this story of two cowboy pals in 1960s Wyoming who find themselves in lifelong love -- yet go on to marry women -- that elicits this response from heterosexual males?
The answers are as complex as the plot.
A psychologist who coined the word "homophobic" said the revulsion is precisely that. A scientist who discovered genetic links to sexuality said he simply does not understand the response. The author of "The Sexual Brain" said there is nothing on a neurobiological basis to explain the aversion.
To film fan Eddie Hargreaves of Stockton, Calif., it's more like the "ick" of romantic drama. "I'm not going to speak for everybody," he said, "but I don't know a lot of straight guys who said, `Oh, man, I can't wait to see "Bridges of Madison County,""' 1995's famous tearjerker.
"Brokeback Mountain," directed by Oscar winner Ang Lee and starring box-office hunks Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, is sparking both critical praise and water cooler chatter. It's been nominated for seven Golden Globe awards.
But when movie critic Dave White, who is gay, wrote a humorous piece titled "The Straight Dude's Guide to `Brokeback,"' "I got hundreds of messages, most of whom hated me for just existing," he said.
An excerpt from the column: "The good news -- there's less than one minute of making out. It's about 130 minutes long and 129 of them are about Men Not Having Sex."
We're not talking here about rejections of homosexuality based on moral or religious grounds, though the film has provoked its share of those. It's that some men who pointedly won't see "Brokeback" are social liberals who generally find no fault with people being gay.
"I didn't write the piece with the homophobe in mind," said White, a Movie.com reviewer in Los Angeles who wrote the column for MSNBC.com. "I wrote it for the liberal guy who just can't see this movie, because they know that reads as socially uncool."
White's theory on straight-male queasiness centers on self-identification. "These characters are too close to being regular guys," he said. "That's part of the freakout."
Timothy Shary also noticed that. He's director of the Screen Studies Program at Clark University in Worcester, Mass., and examines masculinity in movies.
"This is a threat to most men because it opens up the possibility that two men who are friendly may become affectionate," Shary said. "That's something men just do not want to consider."
Countless movies feature characters who marry (or are married to) someone but linger evermore over feelings for another -- think "Casablanca."
"But this is about two men who are attracted to each other and keep that connection. That's especially troubling for some men," Shary said, adding, "but that's what makes this a truly revolutionary film."
George Weinberg said this aversion is "definitely homophobia." He is the New York City psychologist and researcher who invented that term in the 1960s, and broke ground with his 1972 book, "Society and the Healthy Homosexual."
"This is the idea of one man's adoration for another," Weinberg said. "A love affair more deep and lasting and romantic" than with their wives.
His advice for straights uneasy about "Brokeback" is to "first understand you have this problem. At least by acknowledging it, that's a start. It's like saying, `I have a fear of heights."'
Research into a physical source of these feelings is lacking.
"It does seem to be almost culturally universal that heterosexual men can have a deep repulsion to overt homosexuality," said Dean Hamer, scientist and author of "The Science of Desire: The Gay Gene and the Biology of Behavior."
"But there is no study I know of to ascertain whether this is a biologically based trait," Hamer said.
Simon LeVay agreed. He is a lecturer on neuroscience and author of "The Sexual Brain," a biological overview of sexuality.
"From a neurobiological basis, I just don't think this response has been researched at that level," LeVay said, "although it's something that should be."
Movie buff Hargreaves, who is straight and married, still isn't going to see "Brokeback Mountain." Not that there's anything wrong with that.
"To say that straight guys are missing out because they're unjustly turned off by the plot, well, there wasn't anything to turn them on in the first place," Hargreaves said. "At least `The English Patient' had a plane crash."
Jan. 5, 2006
(Dru Sefton can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Not for commercial use. For educational and discussion purposes only.
Do these shrinks ever stop gazing at their.... navel?
It's a chick flick but with naked men and no women...why do you suppose I'd want to skip that? sheesh...
First to introduce the word 'sodomite' to this thread, but I'm sure I won't be the last.
bareback mountin' :D sorry had to...
Defining deviancy down. What's next, re-education camps?
The only way you can ever get guys to see this kind of film is to fool them. The Crying Game would never have sold tickets were it not for the "surprise."
If it is a cowboy show, I want guns!! And I don't mean biceps.
I doubt if any straight women are interested in seeing this movie either.
Ah, but I got to laugh first at the "healty homo" bit.
Oops! Healthy - not healty. Sorry.
I'm so tired of being called a homophobe just because I think their lifestyle is deviant and I don't want it in my face. Why aren't those little tutu-wearing fairies called heterophobes?
No thanks to Brokeback Mountain.
They are not cowboys.
They are sheepherders.
Guys that start out spending a little too much time around sheep are halfway there.
Sorry, but "chicks" don't want to see two cowpokes doing the nasty. At least, "chicks" over the age of 15.
But if they had made this movie about two lesbo cowgirls the theaters would be sold out. Right guys?
Most of em don't like moustaches on their women either! :)
It's VERY, VERY funny.
(But I still have no interest in seeing the movie.)