Politics and the Oscars

By Brian Mellen

Here’s the premise. The movie is about two grown men, a ranch-hand and rodeo cowboy, who meet while on a sheepherding job in the mountains of Wyoming. During their time working together, they form a bond and become just a little bit more than friends. Wink, wink.nudge, nudge if you catch my drift. “Brokeback Mountain” is not exactly my thing considering the macho Scorsese and Tarantino-esque gangster movies I usually like. I’m definitely not even big on heterosexual love stories either. But I kept hearing all the hype about “Brokeback Mountain” and began to wonder if there was actually any truth to conservative accusations that Hollywood is on a “gay campaign.” I wondered if “Brokeback Mountain” was really that good. Never one to speak ignorantly, I figured I couldn’t speak with any authority on the matter until I actually took the time to see the movie. I decided, “What the hell?” After all, Ang Lee’s a U of I grad and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” is one of my all time favorite films. I love kung-fu movies. HIYAH!

So what’s the verdict? Although a few scenes in particular made me extremely uncomfortable and the actions some of the characters take do not follow my own personal beliefs, “Brokeback Mountain” is completely deserving of its best picture nomination. The story, acting, and direction among other elements in the picture were all just as solid in comparison to at least three of the other nominees. I still haven’t seen “Capote” yet but I’m assuming it’s good. Plus, I liked the gorgeous blonde who appeared at the end of the movie. She has a new fan. I’d go into greater depth but a full on analysis of the movie isn’t as important as the social response “Brokeback Mountain” is receiving from conservatives.

Conservatives like Bill O’ Reilly have said that the main reason “Brokeback Mountain” has received its praise and recognition is because of its social content. But wait a minute – before I address that issue, Bill O’ Reilly has also repeatedly said he has no intention of seeing the film. He’s not the only conservative who’s used that same logic. How can anyone accuse this movie of being over-hyped and purely a mouthpiece for liberal politics without actually taking the time to see it? Not seeing it is your own personal choice, but don’t lecture the rest of us on its political implications based on ignorant opinion.

And I digress – for all those liberals out there smirking because any shot at the right is a reason to smile, you might as well hold your breath. Some of you refused to see “The Passion of the Christ” because of the films’ supposed ultra-violence and anti-Semitism. It’s okay for a movie like “Hostel” to exist where people get tortured for a good chunk of the film, but not for a movie where a key religious figure died for the sake of mankind. Movies with religious overtones always seem to make some liberals squeamish because religion challenges their ideas of moral relativism. Religion actually forces some to question their denial of moral truth.

Regardless, no one should pay any attention to opinions that rely on ignorant assertions that both conservative and liberal parties in the U.S. alike are clearly guilty of making on movies they haven’t taken the time to see. There is some truth to there being a “gay campaign” in Hollywood. “Brokeback Mountain” will win best picture on Sunday night according to Entertainment Weekly, the Chicago Tribune, and virtually every major media outlet’s predictions.

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Including the “gay cowboy movie,” I’ve seen four of the five nominees, and all are some of the best movies the multiplexes put out this year – all deserve their nominations. But “Brokeback Mountain” is not that much better than the other nominees to the point where this movie, without a doubt, should take home a golden statue. Its social significance as a movie with gay themes is the reason the other films don’t stand much of a chance. Sunday night may be pretty boring and predictable. But, hey – at least Jon Stewart’s hosting.

Brian Mellen is a junior in Communications. He hopes to name his future son Walter Mellen. His column appears Fridays. He can be reached at opinions@daily illini.com.