I haven’t seen “Brokeback Mountain“–but I sure do love the trailer! I’ve seen it twice! According to the New York Times’s Caryn James, the “Brokeback” trailer is already the season’s comedic hit–with audiences howling at lines such as “I wish I knew how to quit you!” blubbered into a man’s shirt. (If you link to James’s story, you can catch the trailer yourself on RealPlayer.) James writes:

“There are lots of possible reasons for the comic effect. There might be snickering at the love story between the men played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. There might be snorting at a story that comes off as sappy in the trailer – so romanticized that the preview ends with a shot of fireworks exploding behind one of the men. There is no doubt, though, that plenty of laughs come when the audience hears Mr. Gyllenhaal’s emotion-wracked voice say, ‘I wish I knew how to quit you!’ The line barely works in the film; in the preview, it’s a howler – evidence of the dangers of wrenching dialogue out of context….

“‘There are Lies We Have to Tell,’ reads one grandiose line. Then Michelle Williams, as Mr. Ledger’s wife, tells him she knows what goes on during his trips with the guy he calls his fishin’ buddy. ‘You don’t go there to fish!’ she yells, in another out-of-context line that could become a cult classic….

“‘There Are Truths We Can’t Deny,’ reads another line, and we see Mr. Ledger burying his face in a man’s shirt, holding it to his heart.”

Of course, insists James, it’s all the fault of those dang trailer-cutters that we laugh instead of cry over the kissin’ cowboys of “Brokeback.” Nonetheless, the film has already garnered a “Saturday Night Live” parody, “Brokeback Goldmine,” that features gay prospectors. Not a good sign for taking this movie seriously. Nonetheless, our media elite insist that this is Exactly What We Must do. Here’s the New York Times’s Frank Rich (available only on TimesSelect but excerpted by my favorite liberal, Mickey Kaus):

“But I’ll rashly predict that the big Hollywood question posed on the front page of The Los Angeles Times after those stunning weekend grosses — ‘Can ‘Brokeback Mountain’ Move the Heartland?’ — will be answered with a resounding yes. All the signs of a runaway phenomenon are present, from an instant parody on ”Saturday Night Live” to the report that a multiplex in Plano, Tex., sold more advance tickets for the so-called ‘gay cowboy picture’ than for ‘King Kong.’… The X factor is that the film delivers a story previously untold by A-list Hollywood. It’s a story America may be more than ready to hear a year after its president cynically flogged a legally superfluous (and unpassable) constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage for the sole purpose of whipping up thee basest hostilities of his electoral base.”

Mickey says, uh, I don’t think so. And Ann Althouse says, gee great, it’s not a serious work of art as it pretends to be but another piece of anti-Bush political propaganda from Hollywood:

“Got that? We’re sick of this damned President, so we want to see cowboys make love. I don’t like the constitutional amendment and related political pandering, but I can’t imagine how being tired of all that would make me more likely to go see a big outdoorsy melodrama with the selling point that the lovers are both men. In fact, the notion that to go to this movie is a political statement makes me less likely to go see it. The movie purports to be high art, not some tedious demonstration of good politics.”

Yes, “Brokeback” (the movie, not the trailer) is broking attendance records–but as The Other Charlotte reported to me yesterday, only among gay men at the big-city theaters where it’s currently showing. TOC went to a Sunday matinee in Georgetown this past weekend, where she was practically the only female in the audience. That could spell trouble for the movie’s reception in the ‘burbs, much less the heterosexual heartlands.

I’m told that Annie Proulx’s original story is a dark and unvarnished portrait of a chain of twisted and ultimately tragic encounters that begins when one of the cowboys’ father grossly bullies him as a toddler. I wouldn’t have a problem with “Brokeback” the movie if it captured that dark heart of human experience that Proulx seemes to have caught. But the trailer tells me that “Brokeback” is instead sentimentalized propaganda at which, as with Little Nell’s death to Oscar Wilde, one would need a heart of stone not to laugh.

Even more disturbingly, says Catholic reviewer Steve Greydanus (hat tip: Catholic blogger Amy Welborn), “Brokeback” is also a piece of virulent anti-heterosexual male propaganda:

“The film allows its sexually omnivorous protagonists to be morally ambiguous, and its straight women can be likable or sympathetic. Yet essentially every straight male character in the film is not only unsympathetic, but unsympathetic precisely in his embodiment of masculinity.

“In the end, in its easygoing, nonpolemical way, Brokeback Mountain is nothing less than a critique not just of heterosexism but of masculinity itself, and thereby of human nature as male and female. It’s a jaundiced portrait of maleness in crisis – a crisis extending not only to the sexual identities of the two central characters, but also to the validity of manhood as exemplified by every other male character in the film. It may be the most profoundly anti-western western ever made, not only post-modern and post-heroic, but post-Christian and post-human.”

If Greydanus is right, it is this attack on masculinity–the very quality that makes men warriors and protective husbands and fathers–that strikes me as the most insidious aspect of “Brokeback.” Fortunately, I don’t think many heterosexual men or women are going to sit through the movie to get the message.