Ray Cochran writes:
First came the short story, then the movie, now the press junket nightmare. I’m referring to Brokeback Mountain and the Gyllenhaal/Ledger juggernaut press narrative being woven.
There’s Ledger, who has moved to Timbuktu (Brooklyn) with Michelle Williams and their new baby. He was absent from the Hollywood premiere, according to Steven Corfe. When I read Steven’s hilarious piece on the hierarchy of seating at Hollywood premieres last week, it made me wonder what it would have been like had Ledger actually shown up. “Let’s see, in row F starting at seat 101, we have Ledger, Williams, agent, agent, agent, assistant, assistant, assistant, lawyer, lawyer, lawyer, Gyllenhaal….” Ledger said in Entertainment Weekly about working on the role: “I never drew upon my love for Michelle. Um, my love for [Jake’s character] is very different.'” Really, Heath? How’s it different?
And then there’s Gyllenhaal, all the way down the row in seat 112: He’s “unattached” and making very coy statements like this one in Details: “I’ve never been attracted to men, but if it happened, I would not have a problem with it.” Then came the quote from Gyllenhaal in an interview last weekend with the Australian Broadcasting Company. Speaking about love and its boundaries, he said, “It has no bounds. In my belief, these aren’t, like, two gay guys. These are two people who fall in love and from the environment they’re in, they’re incredibly lonely. They find each other.”
Um, huh? Did he and the studio execs learn anything from this flick? This is a love story between two men who have sex. The studio executives can weave these contradictory and coy narratives all they want, but this is a movie about two men who fall in love and, because of their own fears, walk away from one another only to pay an incredibly heavy toll that lasts forever. That’s the story. It’s the gay version of The Bridges of Madison County. It doesn’t get any gayer: There’s anal sex and boots and spit for lube and the smell of musk and a gut-wrenching sadness when they’re torn apart. Right? No one’s saying Ledger’s gay. Or Gyllenhaal either. Shack-up with your female co-star, move to Brooklyn, have babies. Whatever. But don’t turn the narrative of the story into the “Dude, let’s rub one out but I’m not really gay” thing.
There’s a scene in the Craig Lucas film, The Dying Gaul, when Campbell Scott’s character, a “happily married” slimy “bi-sexual” homophobic studio executive puts the moves on an unassuming gay screenwriter played by Peter Sarsgaard. When Sarsgaard reacts, confused by Scott’s desire to rewrite Sarsgaard’s gay movie into a heterosexual love story (along with his mention of beloved wife and kids at home), Scott defends himself by saying, “You can be anything you want to be as long as you don’t name it.”
Right. Like me, Craig Lucas is gay. I know he’s gay because we dated. That makes us both gay. I also know he’s written for the studios and has probably encountered similar situations in his meetings in Hollywood. What do you wanna bet that this fictional character of the
“happily married” slimy “bi-sexual” homophobic studio executive actually exists in real life and he’s spearheading the publicity machine on Brokeback Mountain?
– Ray Cochran