Monday, January 16, 2006

Wallowing in the mire

Fascinating watching those ongoing mid-life crisis' of Dennis Quaid and Harrison Ford, isn't it? Anyway, I was glad to see "Brokeback Mountain" win that prestigious Hollywood Foreign Press Association award (chosen by a bunch of paid-off hacks, mainly, but sometimes they get it right).

So as not to waste any more time on awards given out by a bunch of paid-off hacks, I direct you to a dissenting view ... of the film, not the Golden Globes.

In a recent piece published on the "Independent Gay Forum," conservative law professor Dale Carpenter writes:

"It's almost never mentioned that their affair is juxtaposed to the consequences of neglecting life's obligations. The first time Ennis and Jack have sex they shirk their responsibility to watch the flock. That night, a sheep is killed by a wolf; the aftermath is graphically depicted. A large portion of the flock is ultimately lost while they frolic.

"More importantly, in their occasional fishing retreats, Ennis and Jack leave behind families. They are adulterers. This doesn't seem so terrible in the case of Jack, whose cartoonish wife is obsessed with her career and her press-on nails. But in the case of Ennis the result is poignant. Rushing out of the house to meet Jack, Ennis bodily passes off his two daughters to his wife (Michelle Williams), who stoically bears the burden left by a homosexual fleeing his entrapment. Eventually they divorce."

Now, I'm a big fan of "Brokeback," which surprised me since I'm naturally suspicious about anything so widely regarded. As for Carpenter's first point, who wouldn't choose sex over sheep, save for a peverted shepherd or two?

The rest of his thesis merits consideration, however, though I think his argument lacks some context.

Note that the characters were living in a time (and place) where a gay lifestyle was an invitation to isolation, personally and professionally. Marriage was a consolation to that choice, though Carpenter is correct in asserting that you can't discount the toll paid by children produced from unions that probably should have never been. Nor should the women scored be overlooked.

While I agree that you can't let the "Brokeback" characters off the hook, I remain largely empathetic. I had no such sympathy for gay villain Jim McGreevey, the former governor of New Jersey who used a wife and child to advance politically, then sold out his office by appointing an unqualified boy toy director of the state's homeland security department ... after 9/11.

Once that hire was made public, McGreevey resigned from office, obscuring the corruption charge with a sensational declaration that was "a gay American," which apparently made it impossible for him to continue governing.

Not surprisingly, some in the queer media rushed to McGreevey's side, cheering his "bravery." Cowardice is more like it.

It's one thing to live a lie in 1970 Wyoming. Quite another in a urban center, circa 2003. Sure, McGreevey may have never been elected governor as an openly gay man, but that's a problem whose solution should require neither deception nor betrayal.

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