07 January 2006

Gene Shalit needs to learn to separate criticism from dimwitticism

Please read this article and view the clip linked there before reading my post: http://www.glaad.org/action/alerts_detail.php?id=3849#. Thank you.

Normally, I'd just let inflammatory comments slide. Although my family might accuse me of soapboxing from time to time, it's not my style to do so.

Gene Shalit certainly has every right to his entire opinion of the film Brokeback Mountain and his characterization of the roles there portrayed. However, as a respected media figure, his choice of "sexual predator" was not the best. I would even agree the nascent moments of Jack and Ennis's sexual relationship were very aggressive, and one could certainly describe it as violent, but Mr. Shalit's cleverly coined quotes demonstrate more a misinterpretation of gay male relationships. Instead, the accusatory label obfuscates the intention of the film by categorizing and marginalizing homosexual men.

The two men that Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger carefully ensconce in their performances are but one microcosm of male sexuality, and by no means does this film serve as an example of how all men are - gay, straight, bi or whatever. The fierce debut of their affaire reflects their fear of the rest of the world; the infrequent trysts are the more like the installments of Harry Potter novels - addictive, intense, too few and far between, understood to have an eventual end that hope tries to keep at bay but cannot.

Humbly, I would submit that this film by Ang Lee is not so very different than Robert Mulligan's film adaptation of Same Time, Next Year. The lack of much comedy in Mr. Lee's film is a good mirror of the lack of humor that most Americans have one the subject when they remember that being gay has absolutely nothing to do with fashion, show tunes or home makeovers. It has everything to do with men loving each other and having sex with each other. Brokeback Mountain is more about choices that all people make concerning relationships, love, marriage and family. Because the two lead characters are men who want each other, a lot of people will choose not to see this movie. Unfortunately, Mr. Shalit's choice of words may mean that even more will not.

1 comment:

seswans said...

To begin, I've never been a fan of Gene Shalit and this very obvious faux pas is the main reason why. I’ve noticed that, critic or not, he has a deliberate method of injecting his personal beliefs on reviews of various movie topics, rather than remaining objective, unbiased, or socially and culturally informed and uses the Today Show as his platform.

Therefore, his review does not surprise me in the least but does leave me questioning this: Is he as shallow and uninformed in his relationship with his own son as he is with the public? If so, then father and son are suffering a tragic loss by missing the joys that a positive relationship can bring.

By the way, is this coincidental or yet another example of the Today's Shows’ unconscionable treatment toward gays, i.e. their nasty termination of gay entertainment correspondent - Steven Cojocaru last year after his kidney surgery? Remember?