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GLAAD’s Irresponsible Attack on Shalit’s Review of Brokeback

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 11:50 pm - January 7, 2006.
Filed under: Gay PC Silliness,Movies/Film & TV

A few months ago, we saw it as a “promising” development that Neil Giuliano, a former Republican Mayor of Tempe, Arizona had been tapped to be president of the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD). Well, that hasn’t prevented them from overreacting to critical comments made about a gay movie. Now that organization is calling Today show movie critic Gene Shalit’s review of Brokeback Mountaindefamatory.”

In a press release on Thursday, GLAAD faulted Shalit for calling Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist a “‘sexual predator’ who ‘”tracks Ennis down and coaxes him into sporadic trysts.’” While I’m no fan of Gyllenhaal’s performance in the flick, I think Shalit’s comment is a little extreme, but clearly not defamatory. He was just offering his view.

His view is neither “ignorant,” “irresponsble” nor “offensive” as GLAAD also claims. It is GLAAD who is being irresponsible in suggesting that Shalit called Gyllenhaal’s character a “‘sexual predator’ merely because he is romantically interested in someone of the same sex.”

After all, Shalit is the proud parent of an openly gay son about whose coming out he wrote lovingly in The Advocate in 1997. The Today show movie critic noted how his son recalls the concern his father showed for “his physical safety and the consequences to his career.” (The younger Shalit came out in 1973.) In that piece, he offered some sage advice:

Many parents lie awake at night wondering if they played a role in the sexual orientation of their children. I think they should go back to sleep. Each child is an individual.

While acknowledging in and “editor’s note” that Shalit had an openly gay son, GLAAD did not mention The Advocate article in their news release.

While, I believe Shalit’s criticism miss the mark, many critics, even good ones, have been known to read things into movies which are not there. It seems Shalit is doing that here. (Maybe the character reminded him of a man who pursued his son. Or maybe that’s how he saw their relationship. Or maybe he, like I, didn’t find any chemistry between the two men. Who knows?)

Since GLAAD can provide no evidence that Shalit made the “sexual predator” remark merely because Gyllenhaal’s Twist was pursuing another man, this group is simply reading anti-gay animus into Shalit’s review. While Shalit may have misrepresented one character’s actions in the movie, GLAAD has clearly misrepresented one film critic’s negative review.

Just because somebody is critical of something gay doesn’t mean they hold negative feelings against all things gay. We don’t advance a positive image of gays by labeling any criticism of any gay (or lesbian) person (or character in a book or movie) as “defamatory” or “ignorant” merely because we disagree with it. Before making such accusations, we should first have solid evidence that the person harbors anti-gay sentiments. As I found tonight in a google search (taking less than a minute), Gene Shalit clearly does not.

GLAAD is being way too thin-skinned here. One mark of progress gay people and lesbians have made since Shalit’s son first came out is that many critics treat the release of a gay movie just as they would any other flick, feeling free to criticize it when they find fault with it. As one who is not as enthusiastic about the film as other gay moviegoers (and a good number of film critics) have been, I understand that others may not share my views on the film. It would seem that fans of the film, which, judging by its web-site, GLAAD clearly is, could appreciate that others see the film differently than they.

Gene Shalit may have offered an unusual observation about the film, but there’s nothing defamatory in his remarks. Me thinks it’s GLAAD who should be apologizing to GLAAD for their over-the-top release rather than encouraging its readers to ask “both the Today show and Mr. Shalit [to] apologize.”

H/t: Ace.

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com

UPDATE: On its home page this morning (Sunday, January 8, 2006), the Advocate refers to Shalit’s “antigay review” of Brokeback (as part of its link to “Today’s Top Story,” an article on the review (basically excerpting the GLAAD release)). While I agree that his comment was bizarre, this magazine should know better than to call the review antigay. Bizarre word choice, yes, but clearly not antigay. (H/t: Ethan.)

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37 Comments

  1. I haven’t read Shalit’s review, so I’m not going to endorse its view per se. But I have to say….When I saw Brokeback, one thing that struck me and disturbed me was how drastically little concern Jack had for Ennis’ wife and children. They were right there in Ennis’ apartment, and Jack did his best to not even look at them (much less let them become human beings to him, whom his pursuit of Ennis would eventually impact).

    It’s as if his attitude toward Ennis were, “I love what you can do for me, or how good you make me feel when we’re together, without giving the slightest damn about the rest of your life or the commitments you’ve made that make you the person you are.”

    Comment by Calarato — January 8, 2006 @ 2:51 am - January 8, 2006

  2. Calarato, you find his review here with GLAAD’s press release. After watching it, I fault Shalit for his unusual word choice, but don’t think that comment is “anti-gay” as GLAAD suggests in its release.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 8, 2006 @ 3:26 am - January 8, 2006

  3. “…or the children at stake here.”

    I’m NOT ruling out the idea that Jack and Ennis could have truly belonged together in the end.

    I’m saying, in terms of the story presented by the movie on its own terms, Jack didn’t even stop for a second to connect with Ennis’ wife/kids though he was at their home; much less worry about them 1 or 2 seconds in 15 years. And I found that striking.

    The more I think about Jack’s whole approach to loving Ennis, the more I find it infantile.

    I think that’s another reason (in addition to Jake G’s non-cowboy prettiness and inept acting moments) that I neither admired nor “bought” the Jack Twist character.

    Comment by Calarato — January 8, 2006 @ 3:28 am - January 8, 2006

  4. Sorry if it’s my mistake Dan, but I’m not seeing the link to Shalit’s review on the GLAAD site (or in your other post links).

    Comment by Calarato — January 8, 2006 @ 3:36 am - January 8, 2006

  5. GLAADD is very concerned about what people think. I am very concerned about GLAAD.

    Comment by Anthony — January 8, 2006 @ 4:54 am - January 8, 2006

  6. I worry about the Thought police criminalizing thoughts.

    Comment by syn — January 8, 2006 @ 7:49 am - January 8, 2006

  7. I thought Gene Shalit’s “predator” remark was extreme and anti-gay. Surprising since I also heard that he is otherwise progay. Maybe I’m thin-skinned too, as I found that comment insulting and defamatory. Sorry, that’s the way I felt. But GLAAD demanding an apology was also, extreme and unnecessary.

    Comment by Pat — January 8, 2006 @ 9:37 am - January 8, 2006

  8. When I saw Brokeback, one thing that struck me and disturbed me was how drastically little concern Jack had for Ennis’ wife and children.

    Yes, thank you! No concern whatsoever for fidelity or morals. I fail to see how gays can insist they be allowed to marry, yet send the message that the rules and morals of marriage do not apply to them.

    Brokeback Mountain confirms the voters in the eleven states that passed marriage resolutions. Gays are not ready for marriage.

    Comment by rightwingprof — January 8, 2006 @ 9:56 am - January 8, 2006

  9. #8 You’re kidding, right? I think this movie shows that Jack and Ennis were not ready for marriage under the circumstances they lived in. As for Jack and Ennis, yes they were clearly flawed characters, but I’m guessing there was some guilt attached to their own relationship, making it hard to look at the wife and children. Anyway, I can’t possibly believe that voters are that ignorant and look at the moral flaws of two characters from a movie, and deciding that’s true for all those wanting gay marriage. I would think more would look at that movie and think that if homosexuality were accepted, and further, gay marriage was an option, and you wouldn’t get the sh&t kicked out of you for doing it, then perhaps Jack and Ennis wouldn’t have exhibited these moral flaws. Not excusing their behavior, just saying.

    I’ve seen a lot of films depicting straight people, usually men, who are married, and then take off from their family, not giving a sh&t for their kids. Oh, I see that happen a lot in real life too, by the way. So by that argument, I guess straights are not ready for marriage, and their rights should be immediately revoked.

    Comment by Pat — January 8, 2006 @ 10:15 am - January 8, 2006

  10. well I guess I’m in the minority, to say that I understood the concept behind their relationship having lived it myself. now that I am older I have an odd distaste for people that excuse their haarmful actions to their friends by saying that”I’m in love and I have to see where it leads me no matter what”. I’ve done that before and had it done to me and though I understand it’s quite natural I still think it is destructive and cruel. But if your writing a story about two guys that fell in love when they were 19 and than didn’t change anything, it would read a lot like that. Like the jack said, “everything is built on Brokeback” I think the character understood that he hadn’t matured but was unable to make his partner change. As for the kids it seemed like they talked more about them, between themselves in the book but maybe that was just my perception.
    I didn’t like Shalit’s critique I thought it was misunderstanding the nature of the movie, but it’s not like I depend on critcs to tell me what to think. I think GLAAD is just playing the role of the thought police but after that case in Kansas I could understand how they might get offended.

    Comment by Tim — January 8, 2006 @ 10:25 am - January 8, 2006

  11. HERE’S the problem, Pat.

    I’ve seen a lot of films depicting straight people, usually men, who are married, and then take off from their family, not giving a sh&t for their kids. Oh, I see that happen a lot in real life too, by the way.

    And what usually happens to them? Nothing good. Social alienation, other bad stuff. The words “heartless cad” often come to mind and lips in those cases. They are certainly NOT allowed to play the “I’m a victim of society” or “I felt trapped into getting married” card, nor are there organizations that trumpet how wonderful what they did was and blame them ditching their commitment to their wife and kids as wonderful.

    The point that Rightwingprof is making is that that’s exactly what the “gay organizations” are pushing. As I have said before, if Brokeback has presented to straight people what a terrible choice marrying to make one “straight” is, and how it hurts not only the protagonist, but all others involved, that’s what matters. However, our “gay organizations”, in their desperate attempts to find public validation, are promoting the cheating of two married men over the heartache involved in their sham marriages. All GLAAD and their ilk care about is that Jack and Ennis couldn’t get what they want. The hetero world is asking the question of how gay organizations can so blatantly and obviously miss the hurt of the OTHER people involved; that’s from where the “selfish”, “immature”, and “not ready for marriage” come.

    In addition look at it this way. Not only can Jack not be faithful to his wife, he can’t even be faithful to Ennis. In that respect, Shalit’s remark makes much more sense — indeed, I would call it the insight of a parent who’s dealt with their gay child’s heartache at being two-, four, or sixteen-timed by someone who claims to love them, who might even go through the motions, but who, when the chips are down, disappears into a dark alley. Ennis sacrifices his marriage for Jack, but Jack can’t even offer him fidelity.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 8, 2006 @ 10:46 am - January 8, 2006

  12. Maybe Shalit should have used Lothario instead of predator, but more likely another group of hypersensitive left-wing cry-babies is just throwing another public hissy-fit so they can get their delusions of significance validated by an obsequious corporate apology.

    It’s probably for the best that GLAAD didn’t see some of the comments made about Bareback Mountin’ on my blog. On the other hand, I’m such a little fish it wouldn’t exactly shakedown the donor base to pick on me.

    Comment by V the K — January 8, 2006 @ 11:07 am - January 8, 2006

  13. By the way, anybody wanna bet $50 that before the year is out, a p0rn0 movie parody of BM with a pun for a title is released?

    Comment by V the K — January 8, 2006 @ 11:10 am - January 8, 2006

  14. NDT,

    And what usually happens to them? Nothing good. Social alienation, other bad stuff. The words “heartless cad” often come to mind and lips in those cases. They are certainly NOT allowed to play the “I’m a victim of society” or “I felt trapped into getting married” card, nor are there organizations that trumpet how wonderful what they did was and blame them ditching their commitment to their wife and kids as wonderful.

    Agreed. But what also doesn’t happen is a blanket statement that says that straight couples are not ready for marriage. The fact is that straight couples do not have the same obstacles that gay couples do, especially in 1963 Wyoming. If they did, I think those couples would have their flaws too, and people would be sympathetic, even if they don’t condone the actions. It may be playing the victim card, but it would be nice that those who judge simply try to put themselves in their shoes, and see if they would end up being perfect angels. Some will, I’m sure. But the fact that their are many straight couples who sleep around today, despite not having the obstacles Jack and Ennis have, should be able to understand (while not condoning) the moral flaws of Jack and Ennis.

    The point that Rightwingprof is making is that that’s exactly what the “gay organizations” are pushing. As I have said before, if Brokeback has presented to straight people what a terrible choice marrying to make one “straight” is, and how it hurts not only the protagonist, but all others involved, that’s what matters. However, our “gay organizations”, in their desperate attempts to find public validation, are promoting the cheating of two married men over the heartache involved in their sham marriages. All GLAAD and their ilk care about is that Jack and Ennis couldn’t get what they want. The hetero world is asking the question of how gay organizations can so blatantly and obviously miss the hurt of the OTHER people involved; that’s from where the “selfish”, “immature”, and “not ready for marriage” come.

    I don’t follow everything that gay organizations say. In fact, more than half the time, I don’t know what they are saying, including this movie. So it’s hard for me to imagine that most straight people know what gay organizations are saying. I sympathize with Jack and Ennis, because they found something special, and they couldn’t have it. I also sympathize with their wives and children, because they also got caught up in this, and became victims. One of the points I got from the movie is with full acceptance, the wives wouldn’t have got hurt, and that full acceptance will benefit the hetero world as well.

    In addition look at it this way. Not only can Jack not be faithful to his wife, he can’t even be faithful to Ennis. In that respect, Shalit’s remark makes much more sense — indeed, I would call it the insight of a parent who’s dealt with their gay child’s heartache at being two-, four, or sixteen-timed by someone who claims to love them, who might even go through the motions, but who, when the chips are down, disappears into a dark alley. Ennis sacrifices his marriage for Jack, but Jack can’t even offer him fidelity.

    I’m afraid we look at this differently. First, I don’t think Ennis sacrificed his marriage for Jack. He even started dated another woman after the divorce. It was Jack that offered Ennis commitment and fidelity, but Ennis couldn’t do it, and wanted to continue the status quo. Jack is the one who wanted to spend his life with Ennis. As time went on, Jack was the one was trying to be true with himself, and was willing to break it off with Ennis to find someone, a man, to spend his life with. Yeah, I would have preferred that he didn’t seek the other sexual outlets, but I think it is a huge stretch to call that behavior predatory.

    Comment by Pat — January 8, 2006 @ 11:45 am - January 8, 2006

  15. Pat’s summary matches mine in general. There are no heros in this movie except perhaps Ennis’ daughter as she keeps loving her father despite his perpetual indifference to her. But Jack is the most honest about what he feels and his willingness to take the gamble with society by living with another man is the most like the modern individual. Ennis wasn’t concerned about his wife so I don’t see why Jack was supposed to ponder it too much. The book gives a slighter deeper picture of what was going on between these two and how physically overwhelming it was (Jack’s body shaking do bad it was rattling the floor boards).

    I don’t see straight lovers having marriage options dangled before them and offered to them only if they can match Jesus in lifestyle. Many gays yelling about marriage probably can’t even produce evidence of a relationship that lasted more than a few months which is a possible argument about thier motives but it doen’t make the charge any less spiteful or any less of a double-standard.

    The review of Jack’s character was incorrect but that runs par for media types.

    Comment by VinceTN — January 8, 2006 @ 12:18 pm - January 8, 2006

  16. I haven’t seen the movie, probably won’t-my movie watching tends to be ones that I can take my kids to, and we can all agree this one doesn’t qualify.

    One question I wonder from those of you who have seen it is if this was a heterosexual couple with some kind of road block preventing marriage (granted they aren’t the same roadblocks a gay couple would face, but there are often roadblocks for hetero couples-say it was 1961 and it was an inter racial couple in Alabama). If the male character treated the female character in a similar way that happens in this movie, could somebody perceive the character as a predator or something similar?

    In general when it comes to movies, I don’t know that it is fair to criticize somebody for the impression a movie leaves them with-movies are art, and are in the eye of the beholder, and everyone carries their own baggage and life experience with them.

    Comment by Just Me — January 8, 2006 @ 1:09 pm - January 8, 2006

  17. Pat in #7, as I said in the post, I thought Gene Shalit’s comment was a “little extreme,” but the more I think about it the odder it was. Given his record (i.e., the Advocate article on his son (referenced above)), it’s clear he’s not anti-gay. GLAAD went overboard in suggesting his remarks were. We all say strange things from time to time, even those for who words are our profession.

    I think Tim in #10 (calling Shalit’s critique “misunderstanding the nature of the movie”) and VinceTN in #15 (calling the review “incorrect,” but “par for media types”) pretty much share my reaction to his criticism. But, then in #16, Just Me adds a wise comment, not finding it “fair to criticize somebody for the impression a movie leaves them with-movies are art, and are in the eye of the beholder, and everyone carries their own baggage and life experience with them..”

    The comment may strike some of us as odd, but maybe it did remind that critic of someone from his family’s past (as I suggested in the post). Again, who knows? The key issue is that there is substantial evidence to show that Shalit is not anti-gay. Perhaps, were there evidence to the contrary, I might be more supportive of GLAAD’s release.

    As to your question in #16, Just Me, it doesn’t strike me as an accurate characterization to call Jack Twist a “sexual predator.” To be sure, he was more aggressive (and articulate) in press for more get-togethers. (And he did seek out sexual encounters outside this relationship.) It’s hard to find a word to describe his behavior. Given the limited number of words in Shalit’s review, perhaps he too struggled and like many of us, in similar circumstances, came up with an expression which, after much searching, seemed to fit, but not quite. Still, he was on a deadline, so he went with it. I think it was an unfortunate choice of words, but clearly not a hateful or defamatory one.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — January 8, 2006 @ 1:38 pm - January 8, 2006

  18. But what also doesn’t happen is a blanket statement that says that straight couples are not ready for marriage.

    I’m trying to think of a movie, because I know this premise has been tried before, but here we go: A boy and a girl meet while working summer jobs in a remote location, probably a camp somewhere, and begin a short, but torrid romance. When summer comes, they go their separate ways (perhaps they’re heading to different colleges, they’re to young to get married, their parents don’t approve, yada yada yada), go off, and find spouses and start having kids.

    Then, after a few years, they rekindle the relationship, and start taking long “business trips” away from their families for the express purpose of being together, and not just to play Parcheesi.

    Now, the difference here is that the heterosexual community, if you will, while acknowledging the pressures that these people were subjected to and perhaps even questioning why said people put these pressures on them, will still not condone their adultery, or worse, say that theirs is an example of typical love.

    But the fact that their are many straight couples who sleep around today, despite not having the obstacles Jack and Ennis have, should be able to understand (while not condoning) the moral flaws of Jack and Ennis.

    Pat, look at that sentence. You’re saying the only people who can understand gay people are adulterers. To straight people who ARE faithful, it looks like what it is, and they oppose that.

    I sympathize with Jack and Ennis, because they found something special, and they couldn’t have it.

    Here’s the hard part, Pat. They could have had it…..but they would have had to stay up on Brokeback Mountain or somewhere else remote.

    This is also what’s making it difficult for audiences to connect with this. These guys didn’t need marriage to have a relationship. They had a starker choice than most — be straight, be remote, or be dead — but that’s not true in 2006 America.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 8, 2006 @ 2:02 pm - January 8, 2006

  19. I’m trying to think of a movie, because I know this premise has been tried before, but here we go: A boy and a girl meet while working summer jobs in a remote location, probably a camp somewhere, and begin a short, but torrid romance. When summer comes, they go their separate ways (perhaps they’re heading to different colleges, they’re to young to get married, their parents don’t approve, yada yada yada), go off, and find spouses and start having kids.

    Then, after a few years, they rekindle the relationship, and start taking long “business trips” away from their families for the express purpose of being together, and not just to play Parcheesi.

    I love it, NDT! Now if we can just get Adam Sandler and Drew Barrymore we’ll have a deal.

    Comment by Andre — January 8, 2006 @ 3:07 pm - January 8, 2006

  20. #17 GPW, I agree with you and others that Shalit is entitled to his opinion. I just don’t see how what he saw in the movie could be charactized as predatory behavior by Jack. I am offended by it too. Not sure why. Maybe because if this was a straight character, I dont’ think he wouldn’t have used that term. I don’t know. But that’s the way I felt. But it doesn’t help that GLAAD is demanding an apology either.

    #15 Good points, VinceTN. Although I sympathize greatly with Ennis and Jack, I do not regard them as heroes. I would also add that the two older men who were murdered could also be regarded as heroes. Because it is gay men and lesbians like them who tried to buck the trend, and make it more possible for the rest of us to not have to deal with the crap that Jack and Ennis did. I’d like to think that under similar circumstances that I wouldn’t have entered a marriage doomed from the start, but I’ll never know.

    Now, the difference here is that the heterosexual community, if you will, while acknowledging the pressures that these people were subjected to and perhaps even questioning why said people put these pressures on them, will still not condone their adultery, or worse, say that theirs is an example of typical love.

    NDT, I didn’t mean to imply that I condoned Jack and Ennis’s adulteries. In your example, I wouldn’t condone it either, and I would feel some sympathy. But since the examples of the obstacles don’t come close to what Ennis and Jack had, I have less sympathy.

    I’ll try an analogy. Suppose your couple had obstacles on the level of what Jack and Ennis had, but instead, for whatever reason, were each compelled to marry a person of the same sex. They then go on business trips as well to not play parcheesi. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most straight people would not only sympathize with the couple, and some may even condone such behavior.

    Pat, look at that sentence. You’re saying the only people who can understand gay people are adulterers. To straight people who ARE faithful, it looks like what it is, and they oppose that.

    That’s not what I meant to say, but I see that’s how it came out. Put it this way. People see that adultery occurs despite there not being obstacles. I would think that when you throw in the obstacles that Jack and Ennis have, they might understand how adultery would be more likely to occur.

    Here’s the hard part, Pat. They could have had it…..but they would have had to stay up on Brokeback Mountain or somewhere else remote.

    Yes, they could have. Again, no one I know was arguing that Jack and Ennis weren’t perfect. But they obviously felt it was extremely difficult to simply have a full-time relationship. Yes, some of those feelings were of their own making. But Ennis saw the dead bodies of the murdered gay men. So, right or wrong, he did what he could so that NO ONE would get the impression he was gay, even if it meant getting married. Unfortunately, other people do end up getting hurt by this.

    Comment by Pat — January 8, 2006 @ 4:19 pm - January 8, 2006

  21. I wish I had seen the article linked in this post earlier. I have been castigated by several gay and straight friends because of my belief that “Brokeback Mountain” was long, dull at times, and anti-cathartic. Although the scenery was beautiful and stunning and Michelle Williams’ performance was heartbreaking, the movie was far less than emotionally fulfilling. I am a gay man, living in NYC and saw the movie opening night. Amidst the sobs that were pouring from other theater goers, I felt less than satisfied by the movie and its ending. “Brokeback Mountain” is the gay WoodyAllen movie – critics telling us how great it was, describing it as labored in its story telling. Translation: Dull at times.

    Comment by Stephen — January 8, 2006 @ 4:20 pm - January 8, 2006

  22. It takes 2 to tango (as they say). Ennis is the one who lied to his wife right off the bat (he’s an old fishing buddy). Ennis was the one that initiated that passionate kiss witnessed by his wife. I would say there are probably very few of us out there who at one time or another didn’t do something that made us feel good, but hurt someone else.

    I think what some people are missing about this film is how complicated human relationships can be. If the times and situation were different, then these 2 would have gone off together and made a life for themselves, not possible in the world in which these 2 characters existed. As far as abandoning people, I don’t get that either. Ennis clearly loves his daughters and Jack is shown as being a clearly loving father to his son. Ennis didn’t abandon his daughters and in fact its his love for his daughter that gives the partial catharsis at the end of the movie (he used the work excuse for not seeing Jack – tried the same thing with his daughter’s wedding, but recanted almost immediately – giving her and himself a little bit of happiness)

    It made me recall a friend from years ago who was to be married and the invitations had already gone out when he broke it off. The most he could express to her at the time was that she would end up very unhappy if they married. A little bit of hurt then, but it saved them both lives of misery and I’m glad he was able to do it.

    As far as Shalit: He’s a hack critic who’s done his job for 30 years because he looks funny on TV and someone seems to like his cute little act of alliteration when speaks his reviews. From what I heard (I didn’t see it) when they cut back to Katie Couric, she looked a bit shocked and mumbled something about “well I liked it” I don’t know if it was worthy of a GLAAD comment, but I’m sure as hell looking forward to Horatio Sanz giving him skewering on Saturday Night Live. (Sanz often satirizes Shalit by doing a dead on charicature of him.)

    Comment by Kevin — January 8, 2006 @ 6:55 pm - January 8, 2006

  23. -Brokeback Mountain confirms the voters in the eleven states that passed marriage resolutions. Gays are not ready for marriage.-

    Doesn’t this just show what happens when gay men enter relationships with women they don’t love, and don’t want to be around? The anti-gay activists always say “gays can marry just like the rest of us — they can marry someone of the opposite sex”. Doesn’t this film show just how hollow that premise is?

    -This is also what’s making it difficult for audiences to connect with this. –

    Considering that a lot of people will not see a film with any romance between gays, the movie seems to be doing well.

    You say that Jack can’t even be faithful to Ennis, but Jack wanted a permanent relationship with Ennis. Ennis couldn’t accept the idea of living his life with another man. Ennis also had other relationships on the side, with that waitress.

    Comment by Carl — January 8, 2006 @ 9:17 pm - January 8, 2006

  24. Doesn’t this just show what happens when gay men enter relationships with women they don’t love, and don’t want to be around? The anti-gay activists always say “gays can marry just like the rest of us — they can marry someone of the opposite sex”. Doesn’t this film show just how hollow that premise is?

    Yes and no, Carl. You’re right in the sense that it does show that, but not quite as right in the sense that there’s a bigger picture here — that gays fortook hearth and family and wives to run off to the woods and f*ck each other. They put sexual gratification over their marriage vows and family. We can’t even argue that their marriages were sexless, inasmuch as both of them produced children.

    In several ways, that strengthens the fundies’ arguments that gays can’t commit, that they put sexual gratification ahead of families and children, yada yada yada. I completely agree with what you say, Carl, but unfortunately, this movie is being held up as the reflection of some idealized gay romance — and it should be anything but.

    You say that Jack can’t even be faithful to Ennis, but Jack wanted a permanent relationship with Ennis.

    He had an interesting way of showing it, from what I hear.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 9, 2006 @ 1:45 am - January 9, 2006

  25. -In several ways, that strengthens the fundies’ arguments that gays can’t commit, that they put sexual gratification ahead of families and children, yada yada yada. I completely agree with what you say, Carl, but unfortunately, this movie is being held up as the reflection of some idealized gay romance — and it should be anything but. –

    I think the movie is being held up as a starcrossed love story where we see the way these men slowly self-destruct because they can’t be together. I don’t read all the reviews or articles, so I don’t know all that has been said about the plot, but I think people see these men warts and all. Some can say, “the movie shows that homosexuality destroys a marriage” sure, but that’s a self-defeating argument, because the logical response is, “then why do you say that gays dating/fornicating with/marrying someone of the opposite sex cures their problems”?

    -He had an interesting way of showing it, from what I hear. –

    I think he only slept with other men after Ennis told him they could never be together permanently as a couple.

    Comment by Carl — January 9, 2006 @ 3:26 am - January 9, 2006

  26. Your comments are perspicuous. Not everyone has the same taste. Shalit clearly has no gay animus. I haven’t found Shalit’s criticisms of almost any film to mirror mine, so why should it differ with BM. Isn’t this witness to the “diversity” that we all acclaim?

    Comment by Stephen — January 9, 2006 @ 3:53 am - January 9, 2006

  27. I think he only slept with other men after Ennis told him they could never be together permanently as a couple.

    Jack offered a full-committed relationship a couple of times, and it seemed to me, he would have forsaked all others, including his wife, had Ennis been willing. So Jack started to see the writing on the wall, and figured if he was going to live an honest and open life, it may not be with Ennis.

    Similarly, it happens with straight couples who are in a long term relationship. One wants to get married but the other person doesn’t. So they break it off and start dating other people. Maybe they get back to a committed relationship and get married, maybe they don’t. In the movie, Jack dies before they are supposed to meet in November. We don’t know if they would have met, but my guess Jack would have gone with one more chance with Ennis, and would have said his goodbyes then, if it didn’t work out. Putting aside the fact that Jack was married and he cheated on his wife (which was bad), I thought that Jack’s treatment with Ennis was more than fair.

    NDT, as for the fundies, I’m afraid they’d get their panties in a twist, so to speak, even if Jack and Ennis had no moral flaws. I think the average American, even those opposed to gay marriage, who sees this movie, would be a little more seasoned than the simplistic arguments given by the fundies. First, they would understand, without condoning, the circumstances which lead to Ennis and Jack cheating on their wives. And also, they’ve seen that even straight couples, without the obstacles Jack and Ennis had, are sometimes depicted in movies cheating on their spouses. Yet, we don’t hear fundies arguing that straight couples should also be banned from marriage based on those examples. Anyway, I’d really like to think that American voters can see through the fundies argument, as I think they’re more intelligent than that. As for the movie being touted as an idealized gay romance, I don’t know who is saying so, but anyone who sees the movie will see the romance is far from ideal, and the movie portrays very well why the romance isn’t ideal.

    Stephen, everyone, including Shalit is entitled to their opinion about the film. Not everyone liked the movie, and thought too many parts were dull. But did you agree with Shalit’s characterization of Jack as a predator? Again, I thought it was offensive, but also surprising given that Shalit apparently is not anti-gay.

    Comment by Pat — January 9, 2006 @ 9:10 am - January 9, 2006

  28. Anyway, I can’t possibly believe that voters are that ignorant and look at the moral flaws of two characters from a movie, and deciding that’s true for all those wanting gay marriage.

    It has nothing to do with drawing generalizations from the characters, but from the praise the gay press has heaped on the film. The reactions of the so-called “gay community” are the issue, not the film characters.

    And yes, there are movies where straight characters are not in some way penalized for adultery — because that is exactly what we are talking about, adultery — though you have to in some way overcome that issue. Just falling in love with “the other woman” isn’t enough.

    I find it insulting that the “gay community” endorses the message of this film, that gay men are exonerated from, or incapable of, morality.

    Comment by rightwingprof — January 9, 2006 @ 9:32 am - January 9, 2006

  29. -Shalit clearly has no gay animus.-

    Calling a gay man a “sexual predator” muddies the waters.

    -I find it insulting that the “gay community” endorses the message of this film, that gay men are exonerated from, or incapable of, morality. –

    I haven’t heard anyone claim that gay men are exonerated from morality. The message of the movie is that a sham marriage IS immoral.

    The gay community does not speak in unison. Clearly some gay men hated the movie. I disagree with them, but that doesn’t mean I’m insulted by them.

    Comment by Carl — January 9, 2006 @ 9:48 am - January 9, 2006

  30. The message of the movie is that a sham marriage IS immoral.

    That’s an amoral statement. He chose to get married. His only moral option is to remain faithful to his vows and his family. All this narcissistic “But I was born a woman and I want a sex change!” or “But I’m gay!” is irrelevant.

    You get married, you keep your vows — or you’re immoral.

    Comment by rightwingprof — January 9, 2006 @ 12:20 pm - January 9, 2006

  31. #30 — If marriage is a solemn covenant between two people, it is immoral to break that covenant. But, to many people, marriage is just a legal convenience that gives people access to certain benefits. Some would say that breaking off such an arrangement is not immoral. Some would say that defining marriage that way is immoral to begin with.

    Comment by V the K — January 9, 2006 @ 2:41 pm - January 9, 2006

  32. “Maybe the character reminded him of a man who pursued his son. Or maybe that’s how he saw their relationship.”

    See, now that’s homophobia. If the above is true, then the critic cannot put aside his personal biases to review the movie.

    Clearly you hate everything GLAAD, and that’s your right. But having an openly gay son does not automatically make Gene Shalit gay-friendly.

    And let’s not forget, millions of people hear Shalit’s opinion. You can’t say the same for GLAAD — who speaks for many people who were offended by the review.

    Bernie

    Comment by Bernie — January 10, 2006 @ 1:41 pm - January 10, 2006

  33. It’s a shame that such an adult film (except for the last ten minutes) has recieved such a childish response….

    Comment by eeore — January 10, 2006 @ 11:11 pm - January 10, 2006

  34. See, now that’s homophobia.

    Not unless “homophobia” has now expanded to criticizing anyone who is gay or perceived to be gay for anything.

    Clearly you hate everything GLAAD, and that’s your right. But having an openly gay son does not automatically make Gene Shalit gay-friendly.

    This kind of thing does, though.

    I’ll even throw out something. Perhaps the fact that Gene Shalit does hold such views and that he does have a gay son means he is comfortable enough with gay people that he can judge them by the same standards he does everyone else.

    That’s anathema to GLAAD and their ilk, who more than homophobia fear loss of their “special victim” status, and as a result, must blast even people who have shown themselves to be ALLIES of the gay community as horrible and antigay.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — January 11, 2006 @ 11:05 am - January 11, 2006

  35. Pat, Carl and Bernie, regarding your comments in 7, 27, 29 and 32

    Would you think Shallit was being “heterophobic” or offensive to straights or even ‘muddying the water’ if he claimed, even incorrectly, that a straight character in a movie was a sexual predator?

    Of course you wouldn’t…the idea is ludicrous. His opinion of one straight character says nothing about his opinons of straights in general.*

    Now, I understand why you (and GLAAD) are quick to jump to the conclusion of “anti-gay bigotry”. Gays, as a group, have frequently been accused of being predators, an innaccurate, hurtful and, at times, dangerous claim. But while I sympathize, it does not excuse accusing non-bigots of bigotry.

    And, frankly, false accusations of this nature do nothing to help bring people together.

    *That sentence is true no matter what group you use to replace “straight/straights”. To ignore it is to commit the Converse Accident/Hasty Generalization Fallacy.

    Comment by DinaFelice — January 13, 2006 @ 1:27 pm - January 13, 2006

  36. DinaFelice, I see that I did use anti-gay in describing Shalit’s review. I take that back and apologize for it, but I still feel that his choice of words here was unfortunate. If interested read my post in the Peter Shalit faults GLAAD…comment #54 explaining my position.

    Comment by Pat — January 14, 2006 @ 12:05 am - January 14, 2006

  37. Hey I was just surfing around and decided to post a short comment here. I run a movie review message board and am looking for people to write reviews and contribute at my forum. You can even post a link to your blog on your signature file at my forum. It’s all good! Take care.

    Comment by Comedy Movie Reviews — March 31, 2006 @ 12:36 am - March 31, 2006

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