Brokeback Mountain

Published: 2021-09-01 13:15:09
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Category: Book Reports

Type of paper: Essay

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Brokeback Mountain became a phenomenon in American popular culture when it was released in 2005. It was the first movie in wide release to explore the lives and love of two ranch hand cowboys throughout a twenty-year period; to many, Brokeback Mountain was "at the very least a media event, and just possibly a transforming cultural moment" (Schnieder, "The Magic Mountain"). Completely challenging norms surrounding masculinity, the screenplay was considered and referred to by many as "the gay cowboy story." However some praised the film's universality: "Ennis's and Jack's acute emotions--yearning, loneliness, disappointment, loss, love and, yes, lust--are affecting because they are universal" (Rich, "Two Gay Cowboys Hit a Homerun"). The film depicts the tragic love between the two central characters Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist, set against the backdrop of the American West. The Western genre is undoubtedly one that is ruled by the traditional male hero and his masculine stereotypes. Rarely does the genre break away from this mold. However Brokeback Mountain defies the set expectations of the typical Western and its celebration of masculinity. In and of itself, this film is "queer," just like its main characters, simply because it is "not normal." Because Ennis and Jack so clearly rebel against hegemonic masculinity, they shatter the norm we previously had of cowboys, and show that the norm or masculinity is oppressive and even violent to those who don't fit it. In my view, this film is trying to tell us that a love story doesn't necessarily have to be between a man and a woman, and that our previous ideas of masculinity don't encompass all that it means to be a man. Ang Lee, in this film, completely turns gender norms on their heads. To display the overturning of gender norms in this film, I will first show that despite their homosexuality, Jack and Ennis still behave in many stereotypical male ways. Next, I will examine the fact that because of the violence of this norm, Jack and Ennis have to stay "in the closet" and hide for their own safety. Then, I will show how this film is upsetting to American masculinity, as shown by previous cowboys. Finally, I will conclude with Eve Sedgewick's notion that gayness is hidden throughout western popular culture; in this case, in Jack and Ennis.

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