Week 14-John Burns-Homonormativity

Brokeback Mountain is an important film to me, because it was the first “queer” film that I ever saw. It helped me come to terms with my emerging queer identity. I remember the conversation around the film when it came out, and it was interesting to read about the film all of these years later. Cooper and Pease talk about the way in which, “the majority of reviewers saw the film as a universal love story, which encouraged the audience to overlook queer subjectivity” (251). The film seems so queer in my mind, and I was surprised to find that audiences and reviewers tried to strip the film of its queerness by calling it a “universal love story”. The film’s queer storyline was apparently not palatable on its own terms. McBride elaborates on this point by saying that, “U.S. moviegoing audiences have been largely fed the Hollywood moviemaking formula that has at its center the success of the white, heterosexual love story. So long as that story survives-through various twists and turns-we are happy, narrative resolution is delivered, and ‘our’ way of life is redeemed” (96). It seems to me that a large part of Brokeback Mountain’s success comes from its ability to conform to the “Hollywood love story”. McBride says that, “…our ideological commitment to its success may be stronger even that our quibbles with gay sexuality” (96). The fact that the characters are gay is secondary to the love story. This bothers me because the love story should have been viewed on its own queer terms. Obviously, there are problems with the film’s focus on masculine, white representations of queerness. Although for a young queer kid like myself, it was exciting to see a queer love story embraced by the mainstream. I was frustrated to learn that mainstream audiences denied the film’s queerness through their focus on the “universal love story”. It was a queer love story.

Works Cited:

Cooper, Brenda, and Edward C. Pease. “Framing Brokeback Mountain: How the Popular Press Corralled the ‘Gay Cowboy Movie’.” Critical Studies in Media Communication, vol. 25, no. 3, 2008, pp. 249-273.

McBride, Dwight. “Why I Hate That I Loved Brokeback Mountain.” GLQ: A Journal of Lesbian and Gay Studies, vol. 13, no. 1, 2007, pp. 95-97.


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