Jewish World Review Feb. 20, 2006 / 22 Shevat 5766
The Good, the Bad, and the pup tent
One of my favorite western movies ever is "The Good, the Bad,
and the Ugly," a sprawling three-hour Sergio Leone shoot-'em-up where Clint
Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach star as weapons of mass
destruction. I like this film because it's easy to understand: Three macho
guys are looking for gold, and you better not get in their way, podner.
The old American West was a place where men were men and women
were, well, in short supply. I mean, covering thousands of miles in a dusty
covered wagon wasn't exactly an enchanting experience for the ladies. Don't
even ask about the plumbing.
But the new American West is a bit different, at least according
to the new widely praised film "Brokeback Mountain." I haven't seen the
movie because the lead actors play bisexual shepherds, and, please forgive
me, that isn't on top of my viewing wish list. I understand I'm a barbarian.
According to friends of mine who have seen "Brokeback," the key
scene takes place in a pup tent. Apparently, two shepherds "bond" in said
tent. If I do see the movie, I know what will run through my mind during
that scene: What would Clint, Lee and Eli have done had they stumbled upon
the tent? I believe gunfire might have been involved.
I also believe "Brokeback Mountain" will win the Oscar next
month for Best Picture of the Year. I could be wrong, as left-wing bomb
thrower George Clooney is very popular in Hollywood and his movie about Ed
Murrow might prevail. But it looks to me like Academy Award voters will
throw Clooney the best supporting actor award, opening the tent flap for
"Brokeback" to win it all.
These days, Hollywood considers itself not only a place of
entertainment, but also a cultural trendsetter. There is no question that
many show-biz types would like to banish any societal stigma associated with
homosexuality. Thus, a mainstream movie that portrays gay conduct as nuanced
and complicated, as "Brokeback" reportedly does, contributes to a more
broadminded approach to homosexuality, a more accepting view.
So that's what's in play this year at the Academy Awards — a
social and political statement. And that's why "Star Wars" and "Harry
Potter" and "Narnia," the three largest grossing movies of the year, are not
in the best picture running. Spectacular movies often make tons of money,
but they do not advance any cause. Gone are the days when "Gone With the
Wind" type entertainment ruled the Hollywood day.
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So how should we process the current Hollywood award process?
Well, I don't have a problem with it. Certainly, it is wrong that some gay
Americans, especially teenagers, are made to suffer because of their
predilections. Every American should be able to pursue happiness on an equal
basis, including gays.
But I also think the entertainment industry should be upfront in
explaining what films it values and why it finds them especially worthy.
Most Americans are not gonna see "Brokeback Mountain" because they don't
relate to the subject, and if Hollywood is now in the "culture-shaping
business," it should admit it.
So look for Oscar night to be a huge night for shepherds who
roam the range in their own consensual way. Hollywood is making a statement,
and Americans should be getting the message loud and clear.
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JWR contributor Bill O'Reilly is host of the
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of, most recently, "Who's Looking Out for You?" Comments by clicking here.
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