Friday, January 20, 2006

Not That's There Anything Wrong With That

Professor Vic writes, rather humorously I might add,

"As for the Golden Globes, I'm not really sure what the obvious message is other than that several good movies this year dealt with the topic of homosexuality and gender identity. I'm not sure you would say Hollywood has a "pro-Hobbit" bias just because Lord of the Rings won in 2004, or a "pro-Game Theory" bias because A Beautiful Mind won in 2002, or a "pro-large scale disasters and sappy love stories" bias because Titanic won in 1998. (Ok, that last bias is probably true.)"

Interestingly enough, A Beautiful Mind skipped over dealing with portions of the book that had Nash getting anonymous homosexual sex in park bathrooms, and being arrested for it. I am no psychiatrist (really, I'm not), but perhaps conflicted feelings about his own sexuality contributed to his psychological problems, so they may have been very relevant to the story. But that imagery - anonymous sex in a park bathroom - does not fit the romantic picture that I think Hollywood would like in general to convey with respect to male homosexual behavior in particular; yet I would argue it is far more prevelant than committed monogomous relationships among male homosexuals. Nevertheless, those making a movie have no responsibility to portray the statistically more likely behavior, especially when you can't build much of a story around the more typical behavior - so I don't fault the movie for that.

Now, Hatch is right that Brokeback Mountain wouldn't even have been nominated had it featured a heterosexual relationship. Of course, that is because the taboo nature of the realtionship sets up the dramatic tension of the entire movie. Romeo and Juliet would have been lost to the ages if Juliet had only been a Capulet instead of a Montague. West Side Story would never have swept the Oscars if Maria's brother had only been a Shark instead of a Jet. Cabin Boy would never have become such a classic if... wait, sorry, got carried away there.

Referencing Cabin Boy is never an indication of getting carried away ... if you hadn't abandoned that path, you were more than likely to make a point that would leave your comments unanswerable. Agreed - dramatic tension is required. The assumption of a vast left-wing conspiracy in Hollywood and other portions of the media sets up the dramatic tension for this entire blog, but hopefully the entertainment value of this blog is independent from buying into that assumption. I think the exact manner in which the relationship was taboo in this case is likely to contribute vastly to its critical success and acclaim.

You don't really know what the fued between the Capulets and the Montagues stems from, and it doesn't really matter to the sympathies you feel for the characters. In this case, I think it is likely to make all the difference in the world to those who think it's a great movie: They are not likely to reliably distinguish the strength of the movie from their own great sympathy with the unfairness of the source of dramatic tension. Compare it to Nabokov's Lolita, considered by some a true love story, which also involves a taboo relationship - no one comes away from that book thinking its damned unfair that a fifty year old guy can't be sleeping with a 14 year old girl without taking all kinds of flak over it, nor is it Nabokov's intention that they do so. In this case, my guess is that that exact message - how unfair society was (is?) to gay cowboys in the 1950s - is more important to both those who made the movie and those who critically acclaimed it than the story itself. Of course I haven't seen the movie, because when I want to see a movie I usually just pop Cabin Boy back into the DVD.

So Hollywood is open-minded enough to tell interesting tales about people who happen to be gay and is willing to release films exploring homosexual love stories. Good for them.

A story is a story, and it should be judged on its merits independent of whether or not you agree with the underlying message. But telling any story does not require open-mindedness - I could write a story about two gay cowboys, and my mind is a closed book. Whenever a liberal refers to an "open mind," it is usually applied to someone who agrees with them, and often it can be said that such an open-minded person is not very tolerant of those who disagree with their open-minded view. The zeitgeist today is certainly swinging in favor of the sexual libertarian view that as long as two adults are consenting, eveything's fine. It is possible to hold the opposite view without doing so constituting a hatred of homosexuals, and indeed I think this is true for many. It may be a mistaken view, but it is not by definition one that can only stem from animus. It is no more indicative of a closed mind than adherence to the opposite libertarian view, and to suggest otherwise is itself close minded.

And before you say that Hollywood would never expose the warts of socialist regimes or of Democratic presidents, try watching Oscar nominated films such as Hotel Rwanda, Farewell My Concubine, or The Killing Fields.

Fair point.

Finally, I might add that over the past ten years "pro-gay" Hollywood has nominated more pictures for the Best Picture Oscar that have featured a pig or a ghost as the main character than a homosexual.

If I recall, most of these ghosts and pigs were Commies!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is little doubt that Hollywood has a gay promotional agenda. For one, there is a disproportionate number of gay or bi-sexual types in Hollywood (have seen some estimates of 35-40%). That Vic guy's pro-Hobbit and pro-disaster analogy was without merit because it fails to acknowledge that this year's awards favor multiple movies that involve gay characters. What was with that Alexander movie too? Why try to project gayness as a theme when it had little relevance to the character? Why? Because Hollywood is composed largely of people who are of a culture that holds contempt for Christian values and very often for white culture and white males. Stories which reflect negatively or offend cultural values of Christians and white males are the norm. Projecting gayness onto white male cowboys is just one of many examples. It is also why Hollywood is hemmoraging money and why so many turn to alternate entertainment forums.

9:39 AM  
Blogger Incredible Dirigible said...

If I remember correctly, Russell Crowe was married to Jennifer Connelly in "A Beautiful Mind". She's pretty hot; that being the case, there's no way the Gladiator is gonna have his vertical smile slammed by a dude in a public bathhouse. Why settle for a hot dog when you can have steak at home??

My general impression is that Hollywood trys pretty hard not to offend the gays, but the traditionalists are not afforded the same luxury.

10:11 AM  
Blogger Professor Vic said...

Facts are facts. Clearly Hollywood is honoring a number of movies this year with homosexual themes, but I've got to stick with the fact that no Academy Award Best Picture nomimee in the past 10 years has featured a gay character in a lead role (or, as Hatch points out in regards to A Beautiful Mind, the "gayness" of a historical character who may or may not have been gay.)

In addition, it seems difficult to objectively assert comtempt for white culture and white males when no female director has ever won an academy award, no black director has ever won an academy award, and until several wins in the past two or three years, only 3 African Americans had won acting awards.

I'm also not sure if movies that offend Christians are "the norm." A quick look and the top 10 or 15 films of 2005 reveals mostly cartoons (Madagascar, Robots, Chicken Little) and sci-fi/fantasy (Star Wars, War of the Worlds, Fantastic Four, Batman, Harry Potter, Narnia, King Kong, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). This is not an obivously anti-Christian collection of films. At least I and most of the other Christians I know aren't strongly offended by giant apes and crazed candy sellers.

No doubt that Hollywood is pretty tolerant of homosexuality compared to the rest of the country, but it's pretty hard to argue that they are consistently trying to cram it down our necks.

10:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When is Hollywood going to make a Pro Chartreuse film? I smell bias.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Pulvarizer said...

I think Eric Cartman said it best on South Park when he proclaimed "Independent films are those black and white hippie movies, they're always about gay cowboys eating pudding." Now I don't know if pudding was consumed in Brokeback Mountain, but close enough.

2:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


If I believe in free markets, then I should assume that if Hollywood is making too many "gay" movies and trying to force a Liberal agenda down the through of an unwilling public, then they should be penalized for this in the marketplace. In the long run then, market forces should be self correcting and undo these biases.

The cost of Brokeback Mountain, from a Google search, was $14 million and it has grossed $32 million at the box office. It seems to me that market forces have rewarded this film.

It seems to me, judged on an objective, economics basis, the evidence suggests that this project is socially efficient (just like the Passion of the Christ). The benefits, as measured by market demand, exceed the cost.

Quite frankly, what I find objectionable about this whole discussion is the premise that gays are getting preferential treatment. I doubt you would find too many gay people who actually share this viewpoint. Just like I don't think you will find too many black people who will believe that, even after controlling for the benefits from affirmative action, they are at a net advantage (despite the claims of some on the right).

What I object to is the Christian right's desire to persecute those who disagree with their beliefs. It's supposed to be a free country man. No one group is supposed to be able to shove their values down the rest of our throats.

The religious right whips up fear and paranoia about movie like this to exploit the ignorant. I grew up in a really poor and rural place. I have seen people who are easily manipulated by this type of fear. I find it offensive to demonize an oppressed minority like some on the religious right has done to gays. My sympathies go out to the gays on this one.

As a believer in free markets, I think that we are most efficient when no one in demonized, isolated or regularly screwed over by a majority that disagrees with what goes on behind closed doors. Not only is this an inefficient allocation of resourcres, but it also deprives us of the full benefit of the talents of one part of society.



4:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


BTW, here is something I find much more disturbing than the "success" of Brokeback Mountain:

Most Americans do not accept the theory of evolution. Instead, 51 percent of Americans say God created humans in their present form, and another three in 10 say that while humans evolved, God guided the process. Just 15 percent say humans evolved, and that God was not involved.

(from CBS News Polls).

Out of curiosity, since you are an educated man, doesn't it bother you that some social conservatives in the Republican party are promoting scientific ignorance? AS a conservative, but educated guy, does the following from the Washington Post bother you:

"President Bush invigorated proponents of teaching alternatives to evolution in public schools with remarks saying that schoolchildren should be taught about "intelligent design," a view of creation that challenges established scientific thinking and promotes the idea that an unseen force is behind the development of humanity."

In the interest of balance, I'd like to hear your response about this given the number of columns I've read about the misdeeds that take place in academia and other centers of Liberalism (and in fairness, there are some!).



4:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Professor Vic is right when he says "but I've got to stick with the fact that no Academy Award Best Picture nomimee in the past 10 years has featured a gay character in a lead role" but it's awfully close -- the movie "Philadelphia" won 2 Oscars in 1994...does Best Actor count?

I'm surprised Hatcher didn't mention this -- he loves Tom Hanks

10:20 AM  

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