Week 14- Brokeback Mountain

First, I have to admit something. I am probably the only person in this class who has not seen Brokeback Mountain for no reason other than the fact that I’ve just never gotten around to it. Brokeback Mountain came out when I was 8 years old and not particularly attuned to cultural debates. However, interestingly, I totally remember growing up aware of the film and the colloquial use of the term “brokeback.” It was so interesting reading about the response to the film upon its release in the Cooper reading especially as someone in 2017. As Cooper writes, “the discourse of film reviews reveals the ‘normative limits’ of cinema at specific times in history, limits that are further ‘exposed when critics are confronted with a film that is ‘different,’ that doesn’t fit neatly into he customary frames of reference.’” (251). Though it obviously has a different cultural context surrounding it, I actually think that Moonlight, arguably the current most culturally relevant queer film, provides an interesting comparison to Brokeback. Like Brokeback, many reviews of Moonlight have focused on its universality as a love story or coming of age. But then, there’s the added complexity of it’s ‘peculiarness’ as a ‘gay black film.’ Cooper writes of this duality, “the tension between these conflicting frames effectively obscures the reality of queer life while simultaneously stereotyping it” (252). I think she makes another interesting point when she writes, “Although queer characters today are more visible and generally represented more positively in both news and entertainment media than in the past, mainstream media portrayals may only seem to accept sexual minorities while simultaneously reaffirming the ‘heterosexual order’ that works to contain and tame ‘gays and gay experience’ (Cooper 253). Furthermore, like chiron, “ennis and Jack, who’ve been raised in a world where to be ‘queer’ is not to be a man (and is therefore unthinkable) can’t grasp the feeling that’s come over them because they literally don’t have the words for it” (256). Also, the reading mentions how Brokeback and the criticism around it seems to suggest that “the homophobic realities it depicts are a thing of the past” (252) which is an interesting thing to think bout in terms of Moonlight as it technically depicts a past world (miami in the 70s). I think that the reading makes a key point at the end— that universal praise for a film doesn’t necessarily mean that the mainstream is willing to confront or combat homophobia. 

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