Cowboys Rounding Up Hype

Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Transamerica all took away top awards at the Golden Globes, and are likely to make their way into cinematic history at the 78th Annual Academy Awards in spite of their provocative subject matter.

Brokeback Mountain picked up the most Golden Globe nominations and earned a total of four awards, including Best Picture-Drama, Best Director (Ang Lee), Best Screenplay, and Best Original Song. Notoriously dubbed the “gay-cowboy” movie, it is by far one of the most controversial films of year, providing late night entertainers with enough redundant material that lasted for the past two months. Despite all the recent success (it is inching its way to the $100 million mark) it is difficult to predict how successful it will be at the Academy awards. LA Weekly writer, Nikki Finke noted that many of the Oscar voters are baby boomers who lived to see the legendary John Wayne climb to the height of his career. Wayne, who appeared in over one hundred films, including several classic Westerns, transcended an ideal image of masculinity. Whether voters will be embracing or offended by the cultural content of Lee’s film will be interesting to see unfold.

Considering America is being swept away on a wave of neo-conservatism and our President is working for a constitutional ban on gay-marriage, it is not surprising that the film inherited quite the backlash in return for its success.

Larry Miller, owner of the Jordon Commons Megaplex in Utah, and the actor most notable for his roles in Ten Things I Hate about You, Best in Show, and The Nutty Professor II pulled Brokeback Mountain out of his theatre shortly after hearing about the content of the film. Miller also canceled his agreement of showing of Transamerica, an interesting and humorous portrayal of the challenges surrounding a transsexual woman. His reasons for replacing Brokeback’s show times with Quentin Tarantino and Eli Roth’s thriller, Hostel, in early January, was never clearly explained. In an interview with a Salt Lake City newspaper, the Desert Morning News, Miller stated, “I see the attention I’m getting is a lot more positive than negative. Those on the negative are from the outside.”

The Exodus Global Alliance is the largest Evangelical organization in the United States confronting issues of homosexuality in society. Their expanding network of recovered homosexuals works to spread their beliefs in the transforming power of Jesus Christ on those stricken with same-sex attractions. Allan Chambers, President of the Exodus Global Alliance, jumped on the anti-Brokeback bag wagon contending that, “we need to tell Hollywood that we don’t want the others by sending the message that we’re not going to pay for this, and we’re not going to support it, and we’re not going to allow you to bring it to our communities.”

Exploration of gender and sexuality in its most risqué forms seems to have always been a comfortable terrain for Indie filmmakers. However, more filmmakers are beginning to delicately expose these issues in a manner that is more digestible for popular society. The outcome of this year’s Oscars may cause major film studios to rethink their attitudes in taking on more controversial topics. If Brokeback Mountain, Capote, and Transamerica fare well and there is strong reason to believe they will, we may see a change in not only Hollywood’s thinking but in America’s as well. The Academy Awards will air March 5, 2006 and will be hosted by Jon Stewart.