Friday, January 20, 2006

Changing Minds

Chick-Flick Cowboys

This article from Newsweek is very meta about keeping the Brokeback media frenzy going, duly noting (almost as an excuse for itself) that while it may seem like people have been talking about the movie forever, it's only today that it will move into somewhat wide release, hitting nearly 1,200 screens and a number of new suburban markets. (A glance at the ad in this morning's Chicago Tribune confirms this: the movie is playing in just about every multiplex now.)

The article also notes that the strategy of focusing on women as the main audience for the film is working, with the film's ascent to the top of the box office this week mentioned. All of this is fine and dandy. Here's what I don't get: After noting that women are still having trouble getting men to see the movie, and that even such liberals as Larry David have expressed reservations, the article pulls out this show-stopper: "If those in the so-called cultural elite (like David) have trouble seeing a gay love story, does the film have any hope of changing nationwide attitudes on gay relationships?" While it offers the standard mainstream media "on the one hand, on the other hand" conclusion, the argument against change is the one you walk away from the article believing.

I don't buy it. I think many of the women who are seeing this movie have always been somewhat tolerant of gays and lesbians, but never terribly concerned about their plight. Brokeback should open up their hearts and minds to stories they would never have heard before, of couples who suffer because they can't marry, of survivors who are forced to sell the house because a bigoted cousin challenges the will leaving everything to a same-sex partner and wins. It should cause them to think a little differently about politicians who oppose protections for same-sex couples. And aren't women more than half of all voters?

I know this is just a movie, not a social movement. But honestly, how could anyone who cries over the pain Ennis feels at the end of the film not want to help others like him avoid a similar fate? How can they not be changed?

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