Film gets chilly reaction
The cowboy is probably one of the most masculine symbols of Americana that exists. He is as inextricably linked to the rough, untamed spirit of the Old West, as is his ubiquitous transportation system, the mustang.So what happens in a conservative rural community when two cowboys, classic symbols of heterosexual manhood, are the subjects for a movie about a homosexual love affair? Ask someone at the Colorado Farm Show, and the answer is clear.”From what I’ve read, I don’t want to see it just because of what it’s about,” said Josh Webb, 24, of Platteville. “It’s wrong. It gives a wrong image of what men are, should be. It’s just wrong.””Brokeback Mountain,” the critically acclaimed, Golden-Globe-award-winning movie about a forbidden, secret relationship between two gay Wyoming cowboys in the 1960s, premiered in Greeley over the weekend.
It remains to be seen how well-received the movie will be here, but interviews with exhibitors and attendees at the farm show yielded mostly negative reactions.Webb said his girlfriend initially wanted to see the film because of its beautiful cinematography of the Wyoming mountains. Webb, a fan of cowboy movies, grew interested, too, he said.”But then we found out about the gay stuff and we both said, ‘never mind,’ ” Webb said.Around him, spectators looked up at gargantuan, grasshopper-colored John Deere tractors and marveled at the massive wheels. Ranchers perused plastic watering devices with labels extolling how many head of livestock they could accommodate. Men in dark Wrangler jeans and dusty brown boots talked about storing their beets or the best way to trap unwanted pigeons.These are the types of people “Brokeback Mountain” is supposed to be about – rustic, conservative, rural, and very real.But some have a hard time accepting the movie’s portrayal of their world. For one, the movie called the characters cowboys, but they herded sheep. For another, gay cowboys simply wouldn’t exist, Webb said.”It’s not even based on something that could be, or is,” he said.
Other Greeley residents, though they had qualms about its content, have embraced the movie.Nancy Martz, 62, who is a retired teacher, said she was uneasy about a couple of sex scenes but didn’t want that to prevent her from seeing the film.”In fact, the more the movie deepened, showing this true love, really, the love between the cowboys, the less it bothered me,” she said, “because it isn’t about sex. It’s about love.”It’s not clear how well the movie is doing in Greeley. A manager at the Cinemark movie theater at the Greeley Mall, where “Brokeback Mountain” is showing, would not give any information about ticket sales, and a spokeswoman at the company’s corporate headquarters said Cinemark does not discuss ticket sales for individual theaters.”Generally it’s doing very well in the theaters where we have it,” spokeswoman Terrell Falk said. The film is also showing in conservative towns like Aims, Iowa; Shreveport, La.; and Ogden, Utah, and is performing well in all those places, Falk said.But if you ask Grady Jackson, 32, who is from Erie, the film won’t set any regional box office records.
“I doubt it’s going to do well,” said Jackson, who wore a black Stetson hat and cradled his 22-month-old son on his shoulder as he discussed the movie. “Maybe in Hollywood it will, or back East, but not here.”Barbara Groene, 50, was visiting from North Platte, Neb., for the farm show. She said she doesn’t plan to see the movie, either.”I just don’t agree with it,” she said. She said it had nothing to do with any religious reasons; she just believes gay relationships are immoral, and won’t see the movie because she believes it furthers immoral behavior.She wouldn’t pass complete judgment on the film without seeing it, however.”I heard a review of it that said it’s a beautiful portrayal of human relationships,” she said. “And that may be true.”Vail, Colorado