Bush passes on a ride up Brokeback

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Although some Americans seem to have caught Brokeback fever, apparently our President has not, and the media has had a field day with Bush’s latest admission. While delivering an address to thousands of students and professors last week at Kansas State University, the President fielded an unexpected question from the crowd: “You’re a rancher,” the student said “A lot of us here in Kansas are ranchers. I was just wanting to get your opinion on Brokeback Mountain, if you’ve seen it yet.” The crowd immediately erupted in nervous laughter as the President smirked slightly and replied, “I haven’t seen it. I’ll be glad to talk about ranching, but I haven’t seen the movie.”The student candidly responded, “You would love it. You should check it out.” The hall once again filled with laughter, and the media filled our various “news” outlets with commentary. As the apparently laughable story spreads, here is my question: Who cares? Are we really shocked that our anti-gay, wanna-be cowboy of a president has not seen a movie that vividly depicts gay cowboys? And yet, the slyly inquisitive student’s question does raise an interesting issue: When does going to a movie become a political maneuver? Are we metaphorically checking a box on the ballot by paying to see a certain type of movie? Coming back from Christmas break, it felt as is if the world was divided between two types of people. Forget red and blue states, there were those who had vigorously marched off to see Brokeback, and those who hadn’t, not because they spent their hard earned $8.50 on King Kong instead, but because they made a conscious decision not to. Despite any personal boycotts that may have occurred, within the past few weeks Brokeback Mountain has risen to a highly coveted position of American cinematic pop-culture. After getting a slow start in early December, the film recently skyrocketed to rank as the #1 movie in America. In one week, total domestic gross rose from $748 thousand to $33.6 million. With its emerging critical acclaim and slew of awards, including Best Picture at the Golden Globes, Brokeback is steadily on its way to becoming Focus Features’ biggest box-office success ever. The film’s recent skyrocket of success suggests that many Americans are genuinely intrigued by the subject matter. They are not lining up to see Brokeback as a way of shouting “I support gays and I’m proud,” but rather, simply, going to see a film that has been dubbed both heartbreaking and perspective-altering. By deliberately overlapping two of the most antipodal groups of males in America, the cowboy and the gay man, the film does some very interesting, and I would dare to say useful, cultural work: It shreds apart stereotypes. These are not our typical urban gay symbols of Will and Jack parading around New York, shopping at Barney’s and picking up men at Starbucks, or the Fab Five shelling out fashion advice to struggling heteros. We are talking about rugged, Wrangler jean wearin’, bull-riding Marlboro men engaged in a tragic love story. By allowing the audience to examine the humanity of two gay men within a space that we typify as our most virile male lifestyle, Brokeback Mountain expands the limited narrative of gay men in American culture. Although one may leave the movie theatre still set on voting against gay marriage, he won’t leave this story of unrequited love without rethinking their conceptions of gay men in America. As far as the future of Brokeback is concerned, we can all anxiously wait forJohnny Cash and the Gay-Cowboys to fight it out at the Academy Awards!