Monday, March 06, 2006

Backlash Mountain

America Isn't Ready For A Film Not Really About Gays

Jack Nicholson's usual pompous characature of himself came in handy during last night's78th Annual Academy Awards.

The upset of "Brokeback Mountain" at the hands of "Crash" deserved the combination of shock and despair that Nicholson exhibited as he read the winner of this year's Best Picture.

The easy answer will always be that the voters of the Academy were uncomfortable with the subject matter of the "gay cowboy" movie, but other reasons are more apt.

"Brokeback Mountain" was done in by a more aggressive marketing plan from Lion's Gate Pictures and the undeniable allure of being an L.A. movie with voters entirely from Hollywood.

The problem with the Brokeback gay backlash is that the movie's title has become far more ubiquitous than the actually content. Brokeback could easily be a tale of a lost life and forlorn love between a man and a woman, a person and a pet or anything someone seeks to possess.

The fact that the lovers are gay is merely a clever twist on this well-worn Hollywood cliche, nothing more. The countless internet parodies and incessant late-night jokes only highlighted with bright kleig lights the fearful message of homosexuality. If George W. Bush could win re-election are the barebacks of gay marriage then Brokeback Mountain was doomed from the beginning.

Like that election, we were left with a sub-standard alternative. When was the last time a film won Best Picture with the predigree of mixed reviews? "Crash" was just one big ball of cliches portrayed to have something to say about racism and social interaction in early 21st century America. That it's set in Los Angeles, the land of everything fake, and I mean everything, down to the faux tattoos and botoxed toes, is evidence enough that this is not the daily America that most of us know.

The Academy missed a huge opportunity last night. As Best Supporting Actor winner, George Clooney, alluded to earlier, the greatness of Hollywood is it's ability to bring attention to issues both misunderstood and feared. The Academy dropped the ball and the greatest film of this young century suffered in the process.