Brokeback stone table story hangs around

091205 brokebackIf, while visiting the usual online newspapers and blogs, you clicked this gay-based Golden Globes story in Variety (“It’s red meat for the culture warriors.”) and then happened, by chance, to click on this sobering summary of movie and DVD trends in 2005 (“Plummeting 2005 box office sparks Hollywood crisis”), would one be justified with a click here and even over here to touch base with the American mainstream?

If Variety is going to start using what it thinks is “culture wars” language, at what point does someone write the end of the year round-up (that’s cowboy lingo) that explores the moral, cultural and, yes, religious angles of the whole brokeback stone table showdown? Of course, King Kong may drive this out of the headlines. But I think not, especially if blue zip-code writers such as Ken Tucker of New York Magazine are going to write reviews that wave red flags in front of easily provoked leaders out in flyover country. Check this out the twist in his “Brokeback Mountain” hymn:

When, a half-hour into the film, Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist and Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar, both drunk, cold, and lonely on a remote Wyoming campsite, fold around each other and commence an act of sex that manages to be both rough and tender, romantically intimate and lustily intense, Brokeback Mountain achieves its own early climax: You either buy into this tale of men in love or you join the ranks of those who’ve been snickering during the movie’s prerelease trailers, and who can be divided into the insecure, the idiots, or the insecure idiots.

Well, on to the Oscar races. Let’s see how many of the insecure idiots out in middle America tune in this year and how that affects both the ratings and the advertising revenue.

Wait a minute: I thought Hollywood was all about making money and that, if someone wanted to send a message, they were supposed to call Western Union?

topnav aslanMeanwhile, the newspaper of record on all things Tinsel has raised the stakes as high as they can possibly go. Forget about a showdown between the gay cowboys and the Lion King of Kings. For some folks in Hollywood, says the Los Angeles Times, it is past time for the ultimate symbolic showdown (cue the theme from “Braveheart”):

“Brokeback Mountain’s” future in the heartland will offer a classic test of whether what the movie business considers its best work will be embraced by audiences whose values may be more conservative than Hollywood’s. In some ways, “Brokeback” could prove a counterpoint to the phenomenal success of last year’s “The Passion of the Christ,” a film disparaged by Hollywood power brokers and many film critics that still emerged as a blockbuster.

The controversial cowboy movie, which is rated R in part for its sexuality, also is hitting theaters at a time when filmmakers and studio executives are worried they are losing touch with audiences, as reflected by a yearlong box-office slump.

Really? Hollywood insiders are still shook up about “The Passion”? You think so?

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About tmatt

Terry Mattingly directs the Washington Journalism Center at the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. He writes a weekly column for the Universal Syndicate.

  • Darrell Grizzle

    Wow — as a gay Episcopalian, I feel that Ken Tucker is way off-base. Being uncomfortable at a “lustily intense” gay love scene does NOT mean you’re insecure or an idiot. I haven’t seen the movie yet, but who knows? It might make me uncomfortable too. That would be a value judgment about the movie, not a value judgment about its viewers.

  • ceemac

    Wonder if the fact that Larry McMurtry, the Texas writer, wrote the screenplay for Brokeback Mtn might make some Red Staters think a little more positively about the film than they would if it were done by someone like Redford.

  • Brad

    Has anyone here seen this movie?

    I’m not sure if I’ll watch it or not…it’s at least not as high on my list as several other movies and will probably be a Netflix movie. But I’d be interested in seeing opinions on here.

    The MSM seems to want an evangelical conflagration around this one, but I haven’t really seen a reaction yet.


  • Michael

    I think there is a danger in this sliver-marketing. I know a number of Narnia fans who refused to see the movie because of the way it was being marketed to churches. These people also refused to see the Passion of the Christ.

    Ultimately, neither Brokeback or Narnia will likely be hurt in the box-office because of the sliver-marketing, but you wonder if it is a good omen for the future.

  • Brad

    With these 2, it seems like movies are being almost marketed *against* one another…at least in how they’re portrayed in the reviews.

    I suspect I’ll eventually see both (though only TLTWTW in theatres), but it is a strange twist to try to set groups against each other like it seems like is being done here.


  • Deborah

    I’m watching to see what happens to the per-theatre average when this film opens outside its current LA/NY/SF venues. I’ve heard a bit of snickering during previews where I am, so I suspect that several local theatres may not even carry it for fear of the abysmal box office it’ll have in red states. Personally, I doubt it’ll be doing anywhere near six figures per theatre outside the LA/NY/SF areas. But Mr. “Insecure Idiots” and his cohorts do have one point right: the box office numbers will tell the tale.

  • Stephen A.

    I guess I’m one of those insecure idiots because I don’t want to see soft- or hard-core porn – gay or straight – when I go to the movies. Or maybe I’m just a prude. So be it.

    Now do I get to call people names who shun religious-themed movies like Passion and Narnia?

    I do have to say that film reviews, unless they misstate theology or religious positions, probably fall outside the purvue of criticism here, don’t they? After all, they’re a matter of purely subjective opinion. Not that I don’t enjoy talking about religion’s cultural impact on the movies, and vice versa.

  • Deacon John M. Bresnahan

    My wife and I love going to the movies. We are in our sixties and have been weekly movie goers since our teens. There are more people like us than the pygmy brains of Hollywood imagine. Lately, when I talk to people like us I have discovered–like us– they are going to fewer and fewer movies partially because of the lack of good movies to go to and part because of the feeling that unless we carefully pick and choose–instead of just putting up with any old thing for the sake of a night out–we are supporting an industry that has become more and more a decadent-from our moral point of view–promoter of values we want no part of. There’s the internet and plenty of good books out there to read. Who needs to pay big bucks to submit to Hollywood moral brainwashing sessions.

  • Brad


    From what I have read in the reviews, the actual gay sex scene is very short, as in under a minute and is early in the movie. Though if it’s all such scenes that you are trying to avoid, there is some between the guys and their wives, later.

    Yes, reviews are probably, technically, outside the purview of this forum. :) I just think it’s be interesting to see how people are reacting to this. Clearly Christians are being goaded a bit by the media, reviewers, etc. but I have heard the bark is worse than the bite in this case. It’d be interesting to see other opinions on both the coverage and the movie itself.


  • Alex

    The ABC site article on Yahoo billionaire Jeff Skoll was one of those effusive pats on the back the MSM gives to a “Person of the Week.” Nowhere does it mention Skoll’s definition of good cinema as liberal/left. Did anyone see a MSM piece on Narnia underwriter Phil Anschutz that didn’t pointedly address his conservative Christian/Republican POV? Could you imagine them doing a piece for him like ABC did for Skoll? More proof that bears poop in the woods.

  • Avram

    Someone ought to tell Tucker that if a movie that features a man-on-man sexual relationship has a title starting with a word that sounds a lot like “bareback”, well, it invites a certain amount of snickering.

  • Dan Crawford

    As one who lived for a while in the West, several of those years in Wyoming, I’m waiting to see how the movie plays in real cowboy towns. I suspect there’ll be a lot of snickering among all those idiotic and insecure cowboys.

    Hollywood has always been in touch with itself – which is why its usual depiction of sexual acts depends on elaborate forms of mutual masturbation. As for intellectual content, well, Hollywood thinks Tom Cruise, Madonna, and Alan Alda are deep thinkers. When it comes to morality, what is there to say?

  • boinkie

    Hollywood doesn’t get it…
    SHEEPHERDERS are NOT Cowboys…
    But I guess if you don’t know any real cowboys, you don’t know the difference…
    And I will refrain from all the sheepherder jokes on this family forum…

  • Amy Welborn

    I was present at some snickers – it fascinates me to know that this is an actual sort-of widespread phenomenon. It was before Walk the Line, and I have to say that the moment that got the most snickers was that in which on of the cowboys is grasping the shirt, we presume, of the other, to his chest and weeping.

    I daresay that if the cowboy were holding his girlfriend’s dress to his chest and weeping, it might have struck the audience as equally risible. Perhaps it’s our hidebound stereotypes of acceptable masculine behavior – I sense a dissertation in the air – but something about the scene struck the audience as not quite real.

  • Dan

    “From what I have read in the reviews, the actual gay sex scene is very short, as in under a minute and is early in the movie.” A minute can be a long time, depending on what you’re watching. I suppose though that if I go I can just close my eyes and ask my wife to nudge me when it’s over.

  • Brad

    Dan, if I go (or watch it on DVD) that is precisely what I expect to do. :)


  • Stephen A.

    The gay sex lasted “under a minute?”

    I’m relieved to know that gays have the same problem as many straights in the regard. (Not me, of course.)

    As for Avram’s “Bareback Mountain” crack, that occurred to me, too. Maybe I’m not such a prude after all if I know what that means.

    Heath Ledger told a reporter that he and Jake Gyllenhaal did a lot of “talking through” rehearsals for the sex scene. I bet. By the way, some might be amused to learn Ledger’s next role is Cassanova – who slept with hundreds of women. Ledger’s wife also just had a baby. Is he overcompensating a bit much?

    If you want a blow-by-blow of the sex scene, go to the link below. It’s quite explicit.

  • Stephen A.

    Note: by “talking though” their sex scene, I meant that that Ledger said he and Gyllenhaal “talked through” their lines and the action, rather than acting it out in rehearsal, as they might have on any other movie.

    I realized what I wrote could be taken to mean that they were rehearsing the scene more than usual…for some reason. Both say they are straight.

  • Brad

    Thanks for the clarification. :)


  • Michael

    Given the almost pornogrphic nature and use of violence in “Passion of the Christ,” it seems ironic that people are so focused on less than a minute of man-on-man action.

  • Brad

    I think the “Passion” violence was meant to make a point (on the suffering Jesus went through for us) but it did kind of linger…especially when he was being flogged.

    I haven’t hardly heard a peep out of anyone against “Brokeback,” only out of those in the MSM who keep waiting for someone to pounce on it.

    It’s kind of like when a little kid plays a trick on an adult then hides to watch and starts giggling in anticipation of their reaction. It’s bizarre.


  • Lucas Sayre

    tmatt, your assertion that Hollywood movie sales are in decline because they are concentrating too much on gay cowboy movies and similar projects, and not enough on other projects (you linked Narnia and King Kong in that sentence) is completely unsupported by the evidence. Brokeback was not marketed to be a huge success and it was ran in a limited number of theaters.

    If you want to blame certain types of movies as bringing down Hollywood, you should look at the movies they actually intend to draw large audiences.

    But that would still be an unproductive endeavor, I would argue. If anything is hurting movie sales, it’s the dilution of the entertainment market. Video game sales are higher than ever and cannibalizing movie sales. Also, DVDs and in-theater films are competing against each other. Finally, technology like TIVO allows people to watch TV (and the movies that play on it) on their own schedule.

  • tmatt

    Actually, Lucas, I did not say what you said I said. I pointed toward news reports that hinted at that argument.

    I think lesbigay film is just as valid a film niche as any other — including more films directly targeting a traditional Christian audience. Then you have the fledgling attempts in Hollywood to create a middle ground that strives not to OFFEND the middle American audience, while still reaching others — the great PG-13 blockbuster middle.

    What the bisexual sheepboy movie story is all about is Hollywood’s image OF ITSELF and its simmering anger at middle America. The elites (sorry, but the word really applies in LA) really do not like the mass audience all that much. You make POINTS in artisitic Hollywood by offending the mass.

  • Eric Phillips

    I like both Gyllenhall and Ledger as actors, so I’m not at all eager to watch them defile themselves on screen.

    I’ll just skip this one and pretend it never happened. I’ve discovered that’s generally the best way to deal with actors.

  • Avram

    Terry, I kinda thought that Hollywood “elites” were mostly into making money, and therefore making movies with mass appeal, and aping whatever superficial qualities they could discern in the last movie that made big dollars.

  • Avram

    Y’know, I think the whole Brokeback Mountain-vs-Narnia dichotomy is bogus. I live in firm blue-state territory, and my social circle consists almost entirely of Jews (secular and not), neo-pagans, liberal Christians, and atheists/agnostics, and most of them have either seen the Narnia movie, or are planning to.

    Furthermore, I know a whole lot of people who enjoy slash fiction, and hardly any of them are planning to see Brokeback Mountain. In fact, one friend of mine, who edits a romance line at a major book publishing house, and is a slash fan, saw Brokeback, and didn’t like it. (Though she did like the novella it’s based on.)

  • Eric Phillips

    Yeah, Narnia’s got fans all over. It’s been the best children’s fantasy available for two generations now, so just about anyone who likes fantasy is going to be a fan, whether he’s a Baptist or a Wiccan.

  • Avram

    The best? I dunno; most people I know prefer Oz to Narnia. And I like A Wrinkle in Time (but not L’Engle’s other books) far better than either.

  • Eric Phillips


    Well, you’re clearly just wrong. ;)

    But even if Narnia is just in your top three, you’re still going to go see the movie.

  • Michael

    What the bisexual sheepboy movie story is all about is Hollywood’s image OF ITSELF and its simmering anger at middle America. The elites (sorry, but the word really applies in LA) really do not like the mass audience all that much. You make POINTS in artisitic Hollywood by offending the mass.

    Wow, we must go to different movie theatres. 95% of the movies are geared towards middle America. One could argue much of the pablum produced in Hollywood exists because they are so afraid of offending middle America that they aren’t willing to take many creative risks. The Hollywood blockbuster is created with Middle America in mind.

    Hollywood “elites”–which could be seen as conservative code for gays and Jews–want to make money and they make movies that appeal to middle America. The number of “artistic” movies is pretty small and have fairly limited audiences.

  • Michael

    BTW, who are this “mass” and what movies are created just to offend them? Beyond the “bisexual sheepherder story”–talking about your simmering anger–what other movies were created by “elites” to offend the masses?

    Since you are writing a book on a parallel topic, I’m curious how one defines “offends.”

  • tmatt

    Comments to various.

    * Folks, if the LA Times is covering the debates and fears inside Hollywood about its disconnect with the American mainstream, then I do not think it is mindless conservatism to mention it.

    * Did any of you read any of the Golden Globe stories? The hook for this post was about the awards and their ties this year to a film niche. Who said anything about the great mass of Hollywood films being gay or liberal? In fact, I’ve said the opposite. I’m all for niches, by the way. Three cheers for diverse markets.

    * The Hollywood elites contain a wide, wide variety of secularisms and progressive religious beliefs. The common thread seems to be opposition to those they view as intolerant, as in traditional Jews, Christians, etc. However, this is changing. Hollywood is getting more diverse as the technology weakens its monopolies. This is good.

    Michael, you really must read the views of the people you are slamming. You are not helping the discussions at all.

  • C.H. Marengo

    “Elites as a code word for gays and jews!”

    Say what!? Michael, stop trying to fling mud with allusions to “code words”. Smearing someone as a homophobe and anti-semite without any proof is heinous and cowardly.

  • Avram

    CH, I don’t think Terry was using “elite” as a code word for gays and Jews, but a common theme in late 19th and 20th century anti-Semitic writings was to portray Jews as an elite trying to undermine Christian values, and a more recent trend among anti-Semites is to gripe about the Jews who control Hollywood.

    Terry, I don’t think you’re a bigot, but really, you need to be aware of the implications of your words.

  • Michael

    Adding to Avram’s point, adding to the Jews as “elites who control Hollywood” has been the recent addition of gays into a similar code and smear. It is fairly common theme among the more anti-gay social conservative organizations.

  • tmatt

    I have read the literature on the role of Jewish groups in Hollywood and the smears against them. But what does that have to do with the Golden Globes voters and the Oscar process?

    If these voting pools — the subjects of the reports referenced — do not constitute an “elite” as studied by many scholars, etc., then what groups will?

    And you are saying that gay rights IS NOT one of the defining issues of modern Hollywood? Among straights just as much as gays? Are you saying that Hollywood IS NOT debating its struggles with traditional, practicing Jews and Christians?

    And please site smears in the work of the PEOPLE AND GROUPS actually being quoted and discussed in the relevant GR posts?

    You would never accept others using the tactics that you use in your arguments. If, in the case being discussed, you have MSM coverage that makes your points, or URLS to groups involved in the story that are relevant, then by all means share them.

    I think we are allowed, here, to discuss the same issues that are discussed in the Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. Your argument is not with me, but with the actual coverage being discussed.

    Please quote the bigots in the current debate. Hold yourself to your own standards.

  • tmatt

    Those seeking input on my views about Hollywood and history on these issues should see the writings of Neal Gabler, especially his “An Empire of their Own: How the Jews Invented Hollywood.”

    His “Life: The Movie” is required reading in my “Foundations for Media Involvement” seminar here at the Washington Journalism Center. He is a crucial writer on the left on all of these issues.

    Of course, conservative Jews in Hollywood might also point to the controversial bestseller “Hollywood vs. America” by the Orthodox Jewish writer and political conservative Michael Medved.

  • Michael

    I don’t think anyone–okay, I wasn’t–disagreeing that Hollywood is concerned about how it appeals to the perceived moviegoing needs of social conservatives. But I saw the issue differently.

    I saw that they were concerned about offending social conservatives and the impact of that. In the context of a movie like Brokeback Mountain, based on the work of a Pultizer-prize winning author, the question becomes will it play in Peoria (or Colorado Springs). That’s a question that has perplexed Hollywood since the 40s.

    It’s a fascinating question, undoubtedly. What I reject is that there is some “elite” conspiracy that spends its time thumbing its noses at Bible-reading Americans. That appears to be the subtext of much of the criticism and I just don’t buy it. And, from my reading, neither does the LA Times. Hollywood gets behind one “artsy” movie a year–amid 100 movies that are created to appeal to Peoria (if not Colorado Springs)–and suddenly the “elites” are thumbing their artistic noses.

    As for the use of the word “elites,” it rubs many people wrong because it has been used as a smear and can create the same visceral reaction as Ken Tucker arguing people are “insecure” or “idiots.” Those who are the targets of such labels understand the code.

  • Avram

    Terry: If these voting pools — the subjects of the reports referenced — do not constitute an “elite” as studied by many scholars, etc., then what groups will?

    Er, what? What does this even mean? What scholars are you talking about? If you can’t name names, could you at least narrow it down to a particular field of scholarship?

    If the word “elite” didn’t exist, what words would you use to describe what you’re talking about?

    I don’t even know which group in Hollywood you’re talking about. Studio heads? Directors? Writers? Actors? Union members?

    And please site smears in the work of the PEOPLE AND GROUPS actually being quoted and discussed in the relevant GR posts?

    The word “elite” doesn’t appear so much as a single time in any of the pages you linked to in that post, Terry. It’s your word, and it’s a word that Michael and I are having trouble with. So I’m asking you to clarify its use.

  • tmatt

    The word “elite” has been used in media-bias research since the late 1970s, where I encountered it in graduate studies at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.

    Let’s say you are studying the beliefs of seminary professors.

    If you attempt a study of all seminary professors, in general, that is one thing.

    If you then separate out the professors at the top 10 ranked seminaries in the nation, the second study is called an “elite” study.

    If you are studying the entertainment industry and you attempt to study everyone, that is one thing.

    If you attempt to study only those who have reached the level of Academy voters, studio heads, etc., then the second study is called an “elite” study.

    There are people who say that EVERYONE in Hollywood constitutes an ELITE in the wider American context. I think that is too vague a use of the word and, thus, I never do that. I think we should stay close to the definitions.

    Similar case: The term “culture wars” has been ripped out of the context given it by Dr. James Davison Hunter. I try to avoid uses of it at this site that muddy his original definition for the term.

    As you have seen, GetReligion takes the same approach on the use of words such as “fundamentalist.”

    And, as always, note that Avram and Michael do not address my concern about their smears on the views of those they oppose.

    To site one example:

    I wrote: If these voting pools — the subjects of the reports referenced — do not constitute an “elite” as studied by many scholars, etc., then what groups will?

    Avram replies: Er, what? What does this even mean? What scholars are you talking about?

    Read the words: “voting pools.” I am talking about the people voting on the Globes and the Oscars.

    The subject of the LA Times story was concern about the impact of the Golden Globes nominations, which, you may have noticed, range far wider than the Brokeback pep rally issue.

    The word “elite” is a perfectly good word, whether used by a Bagdikian to describe conservate corporate elites or by Lichter to describe journalistic elites in the nation’s most powerful newsrooms.

    Once again, please take the time to read the views of the people you are slamming. And it really helps if you respond to the posts that are written, rather than to the ones that you imagine were written. It really helps if you — you in this case meaning the tag team of Michael and Avram — address the issues at the heart of this blog, rather than turning everything into arguments about theology or politics. The goal is fair and accurate coverage of a diverse culture, on left and right. I realize that you oppose this, because you see the people on the cultural right as not being worthy of coverage that accurately reflects their beliefs. You are not willing to tolerate those you consider intolerant. There are many MSM journalists who are in favor of your approach and many who are not. This debate inside of journalism is the subject of this blog. We are in favor of old-fashioned, American model of the press journalism that seeks accurate coverage of a wide range of groups. We are pro diversity.

    Now, dare I ask: What did you actually think of the Los Angeles Times article? Do you have any response at all to what I actually wrote about, which is the debate within Hollywood about the blowback from the Globes and the Oscars to come?

    P.S. Please drop the “conspiracy” words. No one is alleging a conspiracy. There is no need for a conspiracy when a very high percentage of a community — let’s say Oscar voters — favor a particular position on a controversial moral/cultural/religious issue. What we are dealing with here is the opposite of a conspiracy. When the likes of Steve Martin or Robin Williams joke about this, they are simply talking about the normative worldviews where they live and work.

  • Michael

    Actually, I did respond to the LA Times article.

  • Michael

    I realize that you oppose this, because you see the people on the cultural right as not being worthy of coverage that accurately reflects their beliefs. You are not willing to tolerate those you consider intolerant.


    Listen, this is your sandbox and you are free to make the rules. If I’ve overstepped the line by questioning some of the assumptions of bias against cultural conservatives, then I guess that makes me opposed to unbiased uncoverage. Seems like an odd turnabout–questioning assumptions about bias makes you the enemy of unbiased journalism–but I respect your right to draw a line in the sand.

    No one likes a devil’s advocate, as you well known since you view that one of the purposes of this blog is playing devil’s advocate with the MSM. Since the contributers are so clearly weighted to the cultural right, I assumed a little assumption challenging was appropriate. Obviously, I’ve overplayed it. Fair enough.

    As for accusing you of being intolerant, I think you missed my point. But I understand no one likes being called intolerant–just as you have accused me and Avram of being intolerant–and so it’s probably best to not try to explain it. There is is a constant struggle in our cultural debate about how to talk about tolerance, diversity, and intolerance. It does seem as though people are talking two completely different languages when people on the cultural right and left try to communicate on such issues and ultimately allegations of bad faith are quickly tossed.

  • Avram

    Terry, thank you for clarifying. So it’s a technical term from the realm of media-bias research? Does it have wider use, say in general sociology?

    I’ll also note that, from a statistical viewpoint, there’s an obvious problem with restricting your study to elites. But I’m guessing that the assumption in media-bias research is that the elites function as trend-setters, so it’s useful to pay attention to them?

    I do resent the claim that I’ve been “smear[ing] those [I] oppose”, since I went out of my way to say that I didn’t think you intended bigotry, and I pointed out that the word I objected to did not appear in any of the pieces you linked to.

    You should understand that, since way before the 1970s, anti-Semites have been using charges of elitism to drum up hatred against Jews. I thought it was possible that, unawares, you might have picked up some of their terminology and passed it on. I’m glad to see I was mistaken.

    About the LA Times story (man, that’s the eighth link in the post; if that’s the one you thought was most important, you buried the lede), hm: A national theater chain owner says he’s hoping the movie will have wide success. The VP at the Family Research Council says America isn’t ready for it. Head of a “conservative grass-roots organization” says people will be revolted. VP of theater chain in Tennesse says interest is high, emails have been favorable. VP at another theater chain says Internet tickets sales are high. A Wyoming bartender says she’ll see it with her friends. The screenwriter says it should have universal appeal. The film’s producer and distributor says it’s encouraged by audience surveys. The director says he’s surprised by how warmly it’s been received. Someone at another theater chain says King Kong will be more popular.

    Did you notice that almost every one of those people is saying exactly what you’d expect them to say, based on what they do for a living? It’s not as if some guy from the Family Research Council is gonna say “Yeah, we’re all in favor of movies about gay men,” or the distrubutor is gonna say “Naw, we’re hoping to drive away audiences.”

  • Avram

    Terry: The goal is fair and accurate coverage of a diverse culture, on left and right. I realize that you oppose this, because you see the people on the cultural right as not being worthy of coverage that accurately reflects their beliefs.

    Now this, I resent. I’m all in favor of more accurate coverage of a diverse culture. You and I have had disagreements about what exactly that means — especially in the controversy over what to teach in science classes — but we also disagree over the motives of the people involved in that debate, so of course we’re going to disagree over what constitutes accurate coverage. Also, I consider “fair” and “accurate” to be sometimes-opposing principles, and when they conflict, I come down on the side of the latter.

  • Charlie

    There are movies and there are films. Movies are designed to earn money and entertain. Films are propaganda, in every good and bad sense of that word. Films are designed to earn you respect within the world of your Hollywood peers. Films are often described as “brave,” “ground-breaking,” and “important” — never “entertaining.”

    Hollywood elites have always used their films to try to shift cultural attitudes and popular opinion. They have every right to do that under the first amendment. Since they control the awards process, they will cheer themselves on for speaking truth to power and by giving films like Brokeback every imaginable award. It may legitimately deserve to be lauded, but whether it does or not, it will win primarily because of its message, not because it is great cinema.

    The movie industry is Hollywood’s most powerful long-range weapon in the culture wars. Films like Brokeback have great appeal to the already convinced. It would be interesting to find out if they really are effective at changing cultural perceptions.

  • Michael

    I did a quick look through the last ten years of Oscar-winning Best Picture winners. With the exception of “American Beauty,” one would be hard pressed to say that they are awarding movies for their cultural left appeal. Movies like “Titanic,” Braveheart,” “Forrest Gump” and “Chicago” hardly scream left-wing agenda. Toss in last year’s “Million Dollar Baby” which is both culturally left (the unadvertised Euthenasia subplot) and right (“up from the bootstraps” values).

    Undeniably, Hollywood has a left-wing bias. But Oscar voters are not exactly falling over themselves to push a far-left agenda.

  • Stephen A.

    Gosh. Jews and Hollywood. Not touching that one, except to say tmatt pointing out that book was a good move. It’s impossible to say one group acts in concert together on ANYTHING (think “Christians” for example.)

    Speaking of Medved, in an interview today, he mentioned that the Brokeback film was actually quite well done, but did serve to promote the gay agenda. The liberal movie critic on the show with him objected fiercely to this. But why? Reporters who also are tempted to jump all over Medved’s comments need to pause and reflect on whether he may have a point. And if so, so what?

    Recognizing a film was made to promote an agenda, and stating it, would (in my mind)free up the viewer to see it as a work of art, but one with an agenda. People respect honestly, if little else.

    Reporters of course made careers out of “exposing” that Mel Gibson had a religious agenda when he made Passion of the Christ. Many tilted their stories by filling them with accusations of antisemitism and sado-masochism (even on this board, we see those same accusations.)

    But why don’t we see that same zeal to expose the “agenda” in Brokeback Mt., which to many is patently obvious, but to some is virtually a crime to point out?

    It sure isn’t the famous “corporate bias” in various mass media preventing reporters from getting that story.

  • Molly

    Some weekend box office results.

  • Stephen A.

    The film’s box office take is pretty weak. Though to its credit, it’s only opened in 69 theatres (!) and has yet to open wide (I’m stopping – NOW!)