Sunday, February 12, 2006

Get Off My Back Mountain

My ambivalence about whether to see Brokeback Mountain is turning me into a social pariah.

I enjoyed E. Annie Proulx’s short story on which director Ang Lee’s film is based when I read it a few years ago in the New Yorker. She’s a brilliant writer whose sparse prose quickstarts the imagination. I even recommended it to friends. But there was nothing in the story that left me eager to rush to a movie theater to see the screen adaptation.

Now, I am often asked if I have seen the movie. My “No,” usually elicits an expression of horror and the words, “but you have to.”

That’s when the problem starts. Time after time I am told Brokeback Mountain is a certified cultural phenomenon because it is a lushly designed, well-acted movie about two men in love that portrays their relationship as understandalbe (if abhorred in the film’s 1950s America) and in a manner that is accessible to contemporary, mainstream audiences. Really, how could I avoid participation in this seminal filmic event?

Well, I have my reasons and none of them even remotely justify suggestions I might be homophobic, as did one friend.

I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than 18 years and was far from naive before that. The fact that two good looking macho guys could fall deeply in love is somewhat less than a revelation to me.

Unlike what some people think, the film is hardly a first. There have been a number of widely released films about men in love over the years. Yes, some of them, like Le Cage aux Folles, and its U.S. remake, The Birdcage, portrayed one gay character as the epitome of a drag stereotype. But both of those films portrayed the campy Albin respectfully and humanely. Only someone with a heart of coal could fail to care about Albin's delimma or be amused by his solution.

There is also the fact that Brokeback Mountain is a chick flick. Change one of the sheepherders to a woman and you would have a dramatic version of Same Time Next Year, in which two people married to others meet once a year for a brief affair. It’s Sleepless in Seattle, with a sad ending. It's Casablanca without the context of a war.

I might see Brokeback Mountain someday. And, from what I’ve read about the acting, directing, and cinematography, I might even enjoy it. But if I do attend, it will be because I want to experience a movie, not get my liberal credentials certified.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Rumsfeld: We're Losing the War on Terror

WASHINGTON — America has made progress in the War on Terror, but the threat today may be greater than ever before because the available weapons are far more dangerous, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Thursday.

"The enemy — while weakened and under pressure — is still capable of global reach, and still possesses the determination to kill more Americans — and to do so with the world's most dangerous weapons," Rumsfeld said in remarks prepared for delivery at the National Press Club.


Dear Rummy,
As much as it pains me to say this, I fear you went a bit over the top in your National Press Club speech today.

You see, my friend, pretty much everyone has known for years the terror boys would love to get their hands on nukes, germs or whatever. You mentioned this several times when citing the spread of WMDs as a justification for our nation's visit to Iraq. As you'll remember, we were unable to find any of those nasties so to raise the topic again might invite questions about your credibility.

(I loved the way you stopped just short of saying the bad guys actually had WMDs stashed inside their dish-dashes. Masterful rhetoric.)

I understand the purpose of your address to the nattering nabobs of negativism was intended to shore up support for the president's policies and actions. But to this friendly observer your comments could also have led the unlettered masses to believe we're losing the war on terror.

Take this for what you will, my friend, but I just wanted you to know some of us are still paying attentionn to what you say.