Monday, April 13, 2009
Social attitudes in Brokeback Mountain
After watching Brokeback Mountain, I felt one important aspect of reading the film we must look at is in the social attitudes towards attraction and how it affects people's lives. Jack and Ennis both have great desire for each other after their initial encounter. Unfortunately prevailing attitudes and lack of understanding of how to compute feelings for the same sex in a world of heterosexual desire is dominant lead to their inability to definitively make their relationship work. The world of 1963 and to 1983 in these parts was probably heteronormative. Jack definitely expresses his desire to Ennis but each has conflicts in their lives. Homophobia and heterosexism run strong in these more rural areas, and in an area where everyone can know everybody, being open about one's attaction for the same sex is tantamount to suicide. As illustrated with the example story of the man that was killed, Ennis' fears could not be allayed by Jack's insistence that they would be all right together. Also, the cheating that went on between the two brought more confusion into this world and social stigma would make it extremely difficult for these two loving men to get together for life. It is not stated what each man's orientation is but the mere mention of their being different is what keeps them apart. These two couldn't even hold hands in this culture. By the end of the film, it seems society and heteronormativity kept these two apart, and Ennis' fears of Jack being beaten as seen in the beating sequence when he holds Jack's shirts is a reminder to the audience that fear can rule our lives and unfortunately, it gets people killed.