What if an alien in the future stumbled upon Brokeback Mountain? Welcome to Earthling Cinema, where we examine the last remaining artifacts of a once-proud culture and try to understand what human lives were like before their planet was destroyed. I’m your host, Garyx Wormuloid.
Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Stars: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams
Director: Ang Lee
Production Co: River Road Entertainment
Written by: Ben Steiner
Directed by: Jared Bauer
Analysis by: Jared Bauer & Kevin Winzer
Starring: Mark Schroeder (https://twitter.com/mark_schroeder)
Edited by: Ryan Hailey
Original Music by: David Krystal (http://www.davidkrystalmusic.com)
Opening Animation by: Danny Rapaport
Producer & Additional Artwork by: Jacob S. Salamon
Brokeback Mountain’s Hidden Meaning – Earthling Cinema
Greetings, and welcome to Earthling Cinema. I am your host, Garyx Wormuloid. This week’s artifact is Brokeback Mountain, directed by Ang Lee, which is short for Angri-Lee on account of losing Best Picture to this dumpster fire.
The film follows Ennis and Jack, two rugged freelance shepherds who get entangled in a love affair on the eponymous mountain thanks to some encouragement from their mutual friend Jim Beam. At the end of the summer, they say farewell the only way they know how. Ennis marries his fiancee Alma, and, not to be outdone, Jack marries Anne Hathaway.
After waiting the customary four years, Jack shows up for a second date with Ennis. They talk about making a life together, but ultimately decide against alienating their families and enduring a life of stigma. So they go fishing instead. More like tonsil fishing am I right? Of course I am.
Both of their lives take a turn for the worse, what with Ennis getting divorced and Jack having to work in sales. Ugh, wearing a little noose around your neck, can you imagine? Jack tries to put a ring on it again, but Ennis refuses, saying it’s all part of the plan. Jack goes off to get his jollies south of the border with some male prostitutes south of the border. Alma confronts Ennis about his gayness and they get in a whole kerfuffle.
Next thing you know, Jack dies and the post office offers Ennis their most sincere condolences. Ennis meets with Jack’s parents and offers to take Jack’s ashes to Brokeback, as he had requested. They decide to compromise by giving him some laundry.
Years later, Ennis’ daughter shows up to brag about her engagement. After she leaves, Ennis realizes he never went to the laundromat and starts crying.
Brokeback Mountain questions human masculinity by presenting a variation on the myth of the cowboy and his corollary, the cow man. The romanticized cowboy is independent, strong, aggressive, and above all else, free to wear as wide a hat as he pleases. But in a human society that cannot reconcile manliness with homosexuality, Jack and Ennis cannot truly pursue their love, and therefore will never attain that freedom. Instead of the hardened, stoic individuals so often seen in the Western genre, Jack and Ennis are tormented by their forbidden emotions, which is a total turnoff.
The film asks: what makes a man? Human males were traditionally expected to provide for their families, but Ennis has difficulties bringing home the bacon, or cheddar, or bread — basically an Egg McMuffin. Jack, meanwhile, can only find a job working for his wife at a company owned by his father-in-law. As such, he loses his remote control privileges. And neither man is allowed to flay his own Thanksgiving carcass, a right promised by the Earth constitution.
Ennis responds to these challenges to his manhood with another traditional male quality: punching. He punches Jack when he gets too close on Brokeback Mountain. He later beats up two bikers for using naughty language in front of his wife and daughters, standing over them like some kind of patriotic superhero – Lieutenant America, if you will. When Ennis’s ex-wife confronts him about being gay, there’s only one item on the menu.
Only in nature can Jack and Ennis let their true selves emerge, kind of like my wife at a Space Pottery Barn. The claustrophobia of their domestic lives is contrasted with the vast landscapes and beautiful scenery that the two enjoy when they are free to exist unfettered by expectations or pants. Bull-riding, a pseudo-sport in which a rider attempts to control a force of nature, is used as a metaphor for the unstoppable power of love. Just as the bull will ultimately throw its rider, Jack and Ennis will inevitably fail to subdue the mighty force of their throbbing loins. Plus there’s the deleted scene where they both get nose rings and stampede through Pamplona.
At first glance, the film appears to be as progressive as Flo [the Progressive lady], unapologetically and honestly telling the story of a homosexual relationship without relying on fabulous stereotypes. However, its ultimate message is tragic, like those Progressive commercials. Society refuses to accept Jack and Ennis as they truly are, and Jack is murdered for his homosexuality. Even after Jack’s death, his family works to preserve a facade of him as a straight man. Jack’s wife concocts a story about Jack dying in a tire-changing accident, which is how all straight guys hope to die. Jack’s parents deny his wish to have his ashes spread on Brokeback Mountain, since honoring someone’s wishes is totally gay. Ennis ultimately decides he must uphold the traditional notion of masculinity and inhibit his true self, lest he wind up a bloody shirt like Jack.
Fortunately, Earthlings eventually came to their senses and realized that all humans were equal and gender was invented by the greeting card companies. In 2028, they elected their first gay president, Best Time Ever’s Neil Patrick Harris.
For Earthling Cinema, I’m Garyx Wormuloid.