I’m not sure whether it’s amusing or discouraging that everyone believes that your typical straight-guy moviegoer is cringing with disgust at the prospect of watching Brokeback Mountain’s Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger (left) make out. Self-described ”red-blooded American male homosexual movie critic” Dave White falls into the amused camp, and he offers a pretty hilarious essay on MSNBC.com in which he reassures such moviegoers that they’ll make it through the film without feeling too icky. I’d add a few points of my own:
1) Sure, some straight guys will be relieved to know there’s only about a minute of man-on-man action in the movie, but I’m not sure that knowing about an Anne Hathaway topless scene is any real compensation. Good to know, yes, but is anyone really going to say, ”I’m not wild about watching two cowpokes swap spit, but I’ll go to the multiplex and sit through it just to glimpse that Princess Diaries chick nekkid”? C’mon, dude, that’s what the DVD is for.
2) White tosses off but does not elaborate much on the observation that ”most Westerns are about 1,000 percent gay.” That may shock most moviegoers, but it’s true. White cites as an example Montgomery Clift’s Red River, but there are countless other examples, where the women are superfluous and the men ride off into the sunset together: Rancho Notorious, The Wild Rovers, Blazing Saddles, Young Guns, The Wild Bunch, Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid, Silverado… and for lesbians, Johnny Guitar, Bad Girls, and Calamity Jane (where Doris Day sings about ”My Secret Love”).
3) And, of course, there isn’t any evidence that movies, including Brokeback Mountain, can make a straight guy into a gay guy. On the other hand, even an uptight straight guy could experience one of the great pleasures of moviegoing: identifying and empathizing with people who initially seem to have nothing in common with you.
Still, I guess I have to ask: Is the gay content going to keep you away from Brokeback? Is it a selling point for you? Or do you plan to see the movie but cover your eyes during the love scenes?