The old liberal meme on “Brokeback Mountain” was that it was sweeping Red-State America by storm, undermining the Reds’ support for George W. Bush’s moral conservatism, and breaking down old taboos against…hiring a gay guy to herd your sheep. Then, Brokeback: 1) flopped in Red-State America and did only okay in Blue-State America; and 2) failed to win the Best Picture statuette at the Academy Awards ceremonies last week.
So now there’s a new liberal meme: The reason Brokeback didn’t win–and maybe isn’t doing so well at the box office–is because, contrary to what you might think, the Hollywood film industry is packed with closet winger homophobes who, when handed secret ballots, quietly voted to affirm their darkest prejudices. And you thought Hollywood was the domain of the far-left cultural elite!
Read, for example, this astonishing bit of sore-loser bile in the U.K. Guardian from Annie Proulx, author of the original “Brokeback Mountain” story:
“The people connected with Brokeback Mountain, including me, hoped that, having been nominated for eight Academy awards, it would get Best Picture as it had at the funny, lively Independent Spirit awards the day before. (If you are looking for smart judging based on merit, skip the Academy Awards next year and pay attention to the Independent Spirit choices.) We should have known conservative heffalump academy voters would have rather different ideas of what was stirring contemporary culture. Roughly 6,000 film industry voters, most in the Los Angeles area, many living cloistered lives behind wrought-iron gates or in deluxe rest-homes, out of touch not only with the shifting larger culture and the yeasty ferment that is America these days, but also out of touch with their own segregated city, decide which films are good. And rumour has it that Lions Gate inundated the academy voters with DVD copies of Trash – excuse me – Crash a few weeks before the ballot deadline. Next year we can look to the awards for controversial themes on the punishment of adulterers with a branding iron in the shape of the letter A, runaway slaves, and the debate over free silver.”
I especially liked the bit about the “deluxe rest-homes”–bias against gays is bad, but bias against the elderly is just fine if you’re Annie Proulx.
Annie is also steamed that Heath Ledger didn’t take the prize for Best Actor, so she lets poor Philip Seymour Hoffman have it on the noggin:
“None of the acting awards came Brokeback’s way, you betcha. The prize, as expected, went to Philip Seymour Hoff-man for his brilliant portrayal of Capote, but in the months preceding the awards thing, there has been little discussion of acting styles and various approaches to character development by this year’s nominees. Hollywood loves mimicry, the conversion of a film actor into the spittin’ image of a once-living celeb. But which takes more skill, acting a person who strolled the boulevard a few decades ago and who left behind tapes, film, photographs, voice recordings and friends with strong memories, or the construction of characters from imagination and a few cold words on the page? I don’t know. The subject never comes up. Cheers to David Strathairn, Joaquin Phoenix and Hoffman, but what about actors who start in the dark?”
Even Itzhak Perlman, whose lovely medley of the theme music from the Best Picture nominees was one of the evening’s high points, gets a dyspeptic slam from Proulx: “he represented ‘culchah'” for “the somewhat dim L.A. crowd.”
As for the merits of Proulx’s singularly ungracious complaints, I’ll turn to my favorite gay, Gay Patriot, who wrote a couple of weeks ago:
“Today I officially declare that I’m tired of the Brokeback Mountain hype. Over it. I’ve talked to too many folks who have seen it (no, not gay conservos either) who, like me, thought the film was just ‘okay.’
“Imagine you are a non-gay hating Red State American with kids. A single day hasn’t gone by where you haven’t heard about Brokeback and how wonderful a film it is. You would think to yourself, ‘gosh…that Brokeback must be the number one film of 2006!!!’ But The Chronicles of Narnia and Brokeback were released on the same day – December 9, 2005. And yet…Narnia has walked circles around Brokeback in terms of gross dollars at the box office – people voting with their pocketbooks.
“Chronicles of Narnia worldwide gross to date:
Domestic: $285,283,677 43.4%
+ Overseas: $371,878,000 56.6%
= Worldwide: $657,161,677
“Brokeback Mountain worldwide gross to date:
Domestic: $67,821,000 63.5%
+ Overseas: $39,000,000 36.5%
= Worldwide: $106,821,000
“Now I am not trying to diminish the impact and impressive gross of the gay cowboy film at all. A $100M film (especially with a $14M budget) is damn impressive and is considered a blockbuster last I checked. But where is the relative attention to a half-a-billion-dollar film that happens to have a Christian/family theme? And having seen both, there is no debate that Narnia is the far superior movie product than Brokeback.”
“Narnia,” by the way, was roundly snubbed by Hollywood despite a gorgeous score and a nominee-level performance by Tilda Swinton, and it got exactly one award: Best Makeup. But you don’t see anyone connected with “Narnia” kvetching in print about Christophobic, Slow-Witted Academy Geezers. There’s this thing called class.
Oh, and please remind me never to read anything by Annie Proulx.