Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Queering of the Cowboy.

Masterful genre skipper Ang Lee is back with a blast in his latest venture into something resembling the western in Brokeback Mountain. Its 1963, and two poor Wyoming cowboys find work herding sheep on the fictional Brokeback Mountain. A summer of whiskey, and leaving the sheep dogs to babysit the sheep leads to some man on man loving. Interestingly this queering of the cowboy is driving the American right fucking apeshit, any one who's seen Outfoxed will be familar with the antics of Bill O'Reilly. Well, he's been raving again, taking offense at the " agenda going on here. It is part of the advocacy for mainstreaming homosexual behavior and promoting gay marriage, and it is also undermining the American cowboy ideal."

Love stories, and me don't mix all too well, they are torrid, long and drawn out, Brokeback Mountain displays all these tendencies, but there is something all the more powerful welding it together. The film displays the sheer destruction wrought on the individual soul by constraining concepts of hegemonic masculinities, that are intricately linked to the expressions of work men are socialised into. Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) is haunted by the memory of "two old birds" who lived together as a couple, one of whom was brutally killed by ranch hands once their sexuality became apparent. Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal), Del Mar's lover is a boysih rodeo cowboy, forced into a hetrosexual marriage after a once off shag with the daughter of a wealthy agricultural machine dealer, the ultimate displacement of the cowboy skills.

The seperation between the two is edged on by social conformity, and the denial of the importance attached by the two to each other by relatives and friends will be admired by anyone who was ever moved by If These Walls Could Talk. The film tracks not only the developing relationship between the two, but the transformation of the west, and the ultimate redundancy of the cowboy aesthetic to the states today. Whatever about films like Farenheit 9-11, this queering of the american ideal is one of the most subversive acts submitted to film in years. But don't let all the media hype let you forget the orginal attempt to do this in a Midnight Cowboy. For once it seems someone has written something decent for UK Indymedia in this diappointed take on the sexual politics of Brokeback Mountain.

On one of my slightly typical cynical notes: Am I the only cahnt out there awaiting the imminent publication of a viral java cartoon called Bareback Mountain? Sitting in the IFI restaurant, a place where pomposity and pretentiousness finds a uniquely Irish expression, surrounded as you are by posters for the sort of films RTE show on repeat five times a year (Live and Let Live, The Quiet Man et al to ad nasuem), the pretentious touch comes with the posters having French titles giving the whole arena a latent intellectualism it doesn't deserve. Watching the movie I was gripped by the idea of a java cartoon, I can see it now: Ennis goes up to Jacks room, which his ma has preserved perfectly from his boyhood. Dolls and pink wall paper abound - fuck the Aeniad comparisons, the homophobic viral java that will abound in a month will be the most telling aspect of this particular movie phenonmeon.

Not to be missed: The IFI are showing a series of Mike Leigh's films over the coming weeks, Leigh who directed last years critically acclaimed Vera Drake which dealt with the relaities of back street abortion in 1950's England is a chief later day proliferator of the kitchen sink drama, a gritter Ken Loach - he makes his politics apparent in the observation of the contradicitions of every day life rather than in epic like tales of resistance and struggle.

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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