It looks like the award for Best Picture at this year's Academy Awards
will be "Brokeback Mountain," a "groundbreaking" film about two cowboys who fall in love with each other while tending sheep at Brokeback Mountain in the Wyoming wilderness. The film has already been hailed asa "masterpiece" by the Hollywood crowd and labeled as blatant pro-gay propaganda by cultural and religious conservatives.
I decided not to join the cultural conservative chorus who are bashing
the film without seeing it. If I was going to give an opinion on this
film, I believed I needed to go and see it first. So I grabbed my
popcorn and quietly slid into the local theatre to see what it was
about "Brokeback Mountain" that has everyone talking.
As far as a pro-homosexual apologetic goes, this may be the most
articulate film made to further that agenda. Two cowboys, Ennis Del Marand Jack Twist, convincingly played by actors Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, shatter the stereotype of gays as weak and effeminate. Ennis and Jake are hard working, hard fighting, rough and tumble cowboys. The film also portrays homosexual love as not always only a one night roll in the hay, or roll in a pup tent as the case might be,
but for some it can actually be much like heterosexual love and last for a lifetime.
The film tugs at the heart with the two sympathetic main characters,
breathtaking natural beauty and, interestingly, gentle guitar music
whenever the two men "reunite" at Brokeback Mountain. The viewer,
through flashback and eventually in the story itself, is also led to
see the horrible injustice of violence committed against gays in
So did I get won over the cultural divide by this "cowboy romance with
a twist?" Not exactly. I'll tell you why. The film seems to portray
societal bigotry and prejudice as the main cause of these two men's
tragic lives. But I believe it is more about their choices. And to
understand the series of harmful choices these men make, we have to
look at their families of origin.
In a campfire scene they both discuss their childhoods and reveal their
deep father wounds. Ennis, a ranch hand, reveals that his father left
him when he was young and Jack, a rodeo cowboy, had a father who never
loved or accepted him. Ennis and Jack came to Brokeback Mountain with
gaping father wounds. They had a legitimate need for their fathers'
love that they decided to fulfill illegitimately and sexually with each
In the movie both men marry women and become fathers, and are portrayed as men who view themselves trapped in their expected roles.
Interestingly, there is no romantic background music as they deal with
the daily challenges of being husbands and fathers. In the story
whenever they reunite the viewers are strongly set up to empathize with
them for simply "following their heart."
But what where does their self-centered journey take them and their
families? Their wives become victims of their adultery. Their children
experience the pain of having fathers whose hearts have turned
elsewhere rather than towards them and their moms. The men have no one
else to blame for the tragic outcome of their lives and the lives they
touched. Ennis and Jack chose to address their own father wounds in a
way that ended up wounding their wives and children just as they were
wounded by their dads. Yes, they had legitimate needs; but tragically,
they chose to meet them illegitimately.
Maybe you do not struggle with same sex attraction that Ennis and Jack
did in "Brokeback Mountain," but do you ever seek to meet your
legitimate needs illegitimately? You bet you and I both do. For
example, addiction to pornography is rampant within the culture at
large and also, sadly, just as prevalent in the church today, silently
destroying intimacy in our marriages. And whenever we seek to meet
legitimate needs illegitimately, as the two cowboys in "Brokeback
Mountain" did or by any other means, we only intensify our own pain.
Not only that, but at the same time, we create an even deeper wound in
our children and even our grandchildren, as the Bible describes.