News Articles

Brokeback is not a love story, just a tragedy

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (BP)–Two modern day cowpokes are tending their boss’s sheep up on Brokeback Mountain, when on a blustery night, cuddling for warmth, they can no longer resist their sexual attraction for one another. The epic drama then proceeds to tell their two decade-long story, one that includes both men marrying unsuspecting women and raising unsuspecting children. The families are unaware that the fishing trips these lifelong friends take several times a year are in fact romantic getaways. (Poor Duke Wayne, he must be looking down from that great Ponderosa in the sky, shaking his head in complete bewilderment.)

This is a rather late review. It was not a film I wanted to see. I had already seen several films last year with homosexual themes and I have time and again attempted to lovingly, non-judgmentally express my sentiments concerning the homosexual lifestyle as represented in the movies. But wouldn’t you know it, “Brokeback Mountain” (Rated R) is being touted by nearly every major critic in the land and looks to be a frontrunner for this year’s Best Picture Oscar. If you review films for a living, you pretty much have to see the contenders for Oscar’s attention. So, finally, I did.

While I pride myself for attempting a balanced look at the films I critique, I simply cannot separate the artistic achievement from this film’s theme/message. The film’s subject matter -– one considered restrained by many reviewers, but far too illustrative for me –- is never overshadowed by panoramic vistas or character development. It’s not just a film representing homosexual love. It is an oppressive story, nearly devoid of humor, a tragedy concerning people who lie, live in secret and use others to hide their sin.

I’m sure that for some readers, a red flag just went up. Some just heard the word “sin” and assumed I was a religious fanatic. Well, tell me, what would you call what these two men do to their families? My reaction did not spring from religious piety, but from a sense of common decency. Their sexual activity aside, what they do to their wives is despicable. If building a life on a lie to your mate is not a sin, then what is?

In my youth, I watched John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda depict men of the West. They were defining the American male, and helping this miniature six-shooter-totin’ hombre learn about the character and sacrifice it takes to do the right thing. But since the passing of John Ford and other legendary theatrical inventers of the western genre, studios have searched for a new slant on the horse opera. One direction came in 1969 when Paul Newman and Robert Redford spun the western by including witty pals-in-the-saddle banter and also making the leads the film’s outlaws.

Since then, we’ve gone in every direction imaginable, from Sam Peckinpah’s bloody “Wild Bunch,” to Clint Eastwood’s anti-western-themed “Unforgiven.” The western genre is now a far cry from the vision John Ford or Howard Hawks painted.

At two hours and 14 minutes, Brokeback is one long, depressing, profane yarn, one designed to further homosexuality as mainstream in the collective American psyche.

I don’t care for the two lead characters. They marry women because it’s expected of them and to hide their sexual preference. The women are mistreated by the men, who are using them basically as beards. There doesn’t seem to be any real love or respect for the womenfolk. That’s not an uplifting portrait of a film’s heroes.

My next problem was the film’s graphic sexuality. When we refer to men being homosexual, most of us don’t dwell on their love-making process. But here we see it, with nothing left to the imagination.

It can be argued that what goes on between consenting adults behind closed doors is their business. Theirs and God’s. I’m fine with that. My objection comes when I’m expected to approve of the lifestyle. The filmmakers, the homosexual community, the liberal media, all want us to see this film as a love story. I guess that’s my main problem with the picture.

I can understand why the homosexual community wants to support this production. By making the subject matter less taboo, more mainstream, their chances of getting public support will continue to mount. And for those unaware of biblical teachings, that philosophy also seems justified. About the only response not given credible attention in the secular community is from those who can’t ignore the scriptural references in both the Old and New Testaments concerning this practice.

Scriptures say homosexuality is an abomination (Romans 1:26, 1 Corinthians 6:9). But we must guard against false superiority. Upon reexamination of those verses, it becomes apparent homosexuality is not all that’s abhorrent to the Heavenly Father. In fact, we are all blameworthy of some infraction. However, those developing a spiritual awareness soon find themselves ashamed of the natural man’s disobedience to God. We don’t parade our peccadilloes. We are not proud of our transgressions, nor do we try to convince society to accept them. With God’s help we will conquer these faults. With His mercy, we will be forgiven.

We must be careful how we allow the cinema to influence us. And if someone reading this argument struggles with a sexual problem, please don’t consider this writer antagonistic. No Christian has the right to place himself above others. Christians are simply trying to point out that no matter what seems right to Hollywood, if it counters biblical principles, Christians are commanded to speak up. God will forgive us, but not until we give up justifying our failings (1 John 1:8-10).

If this sexual behavior brings guilt to anyone you know, assure them that self-reproach has its place only when it reminds them that God has a plan for their lives. All too often guilt is used by the world, Satan or ourselves to separate us from Christ. Remember, He doesn’t seek our shame, just our gratitude.
“Brokeback Mountain” is rated R (there are around 30 misuses of God’s name and Christ’s name, and an endless amount of obscenity. The movie contains explicit sexual contact and nudity.)
Video alternatives dealing with male friendship:
— “Brian’s Song.” This true story of Chicago Bears teammates Brian Piccolo and Gale Sayers contains moving performances by James Caan and Billy Dee Williams, and a well written, entertaining teleplay.
— “The Odd Couple.” A very funny Neil Simon comedy about two very different men (Jack Lemmon, Walter Matthau) sticking together out of necessity.
— “Ride The High Country.” Now here is an excellent buddy movie, with Joel McCrea and Randolph Scott as old friends now on different sides of the law. Directed by Sam Peckinpah before his films became filled with extremely violent imagery.
Phil Boatwright reviews films from a Christian perspective. For other reviews, visit his website at www.moviereporter.com.

    About the Author

  • Phil Boatwright