Thursday, January 19, 2006

Love is the Answer

Maryscott O'Connor here. First post to American Liberalism Project, damned glad to be here.

Okay, I’m going to skip the niceties and biographical overview and just get to the topic du my jour.

My husband works in the film and television industry; he’s one of those “little people” they thank at awards shows if it can be jammed in after the usual obsequies to agents and lawyers and other people who can get the awardee future work.

We saw Brokeback Mountain a couple weeks ago; loved it, natch. I bought the soundtrack on iTunes and have been obsessively playing (on incessant Repeat) one particularly evocative piece. The score was written by Gustavo Santaolalla; this particular song is called The Wings, and is almost instantly recognisable to anyone who hears it as being from the film.

Adam said, in an offhand manner, on hearing it when he walked into the house yesterday, “You should hear the guys at work rag all over this movie.”

I shouldn’t have, but I did it. I asked.

“Why? Have they SEEN it? Do they think it’s a Bad Film?”

“Are you kidding me? They’d never SEE it. It threatens their sense of their own masculinity. Of course it’s not about whether or not it’s a good film.”

Well, you can imagine, perhaps, my indignation. Perhaps not. I spend a lot of time in the blogosphere, and I’ve run into a terrifying and depressing number of so-called liberals” who have expressed… squeamishness… at the thought of even SEEING the film. One in particular spent a good deal of time and energy trying to convince his audience that he wasn’t homophobic, but that it was perfectly reasonable, in his estimation, to excuse him for not wanting to see it – because he’s “just not into guys kissing and having sex.”

Well. Probably for the same reason Adam hasn’t pressed the issue at work, I backed off the conversation at that point. The fact is, there’s exactly ONE sex scene in the film, and it involves more suggestion that actual skin and motion. Kissing? Hell, I know they MUST have kissed onscreen, but I can’t remember it.

That’s hardly the point – even if there HAD been sex and kissing scenes, it’s rather nauseating to consider that there are people out there in the world who are so stultifyingly unimaginative and outright ignorant that they cannot see past the homosexuality depicted onscreen to the overwhelmingly obvious theme of doomed true love. That it happens to be between two men is ALMOST incidental to the genre or archetype. Once upon a time, the doomed lovers were Romeo and Juliet, and their ill-fated love was proscribed because of a feud between families – personal politics, I guess you could call it. Tristan and Isolde, the newest cinematic version of which I just happen to have seen recently in my capacity as an online film critic, depicts yet another kind of doomed love – doomed by perverted concepts of honour and loyalty.

What we have in Brokeback Mountain is simply the most recent and, yes, most progressive version of the Star Crossed Lovers genre. This isn’t about WHY their love is doomed… it’s about the fact that it IS doomed, and that it OUGHTN’T be doomed, damn it.

Fear and ignorance are the breeding ground of hatred. The ignorant fear the unknown and hate it for that reason only – though they themselves may not know it to be the reason for their hatred.

Which is why I am so profoundly depressed by the fact that so many people who are the VERY people who OUGHT to see this movie… will stay away because of their ignorance and fear. It’s a terrible struggle, this war between fear and love. I don’t know why some people seem to be born with an innate ability to eschew fear and embrace love, and others quite the opposite. But it’s clearly a human epidemic. Even those who call themselves “liberal” can awake from a slumber of denial to find they, too, suffer from ignorance and fear, and have allowed it to colour their worldview, however subtly.

These are our choices: love, or fear. There is nothing else. We can love one another, and enact laws and programs that feed, clothe, house and employ each other – or we can live in fear, and enact laws that restrict behaviour that ought never be anyone’s business but the individual’s. We can love one another, and stand up for each other – or we can fear that which we do not understand about each other, and cower behind the familiar, the supposedly safe… and miss out on so much of what it is that makes life as a human being on this planet worth living.

It’s about love, people. And that’s coming from a confirmed curmudgeon. So, if by some strange chance you’re one of those people who’s been avoiding Brokeback Mountain because of the subject matter, because of what you fear (or find “distasteful,” which is just another ignorant version of fear) -- get the hell off your ass and go see the movie. If only so you can see for yourself that I’m right and they’re wrong. Sure, you might not enjoy it as a cinematic experience – there’s no accounting for taste. But at the very least, you will have opened yourself up to an experience that, once having been had, turned out not to be scary or ugly or uncomfortable at all.

All you need is love.