Last week, in the Washington Times' Insider Politics blog, Stephanie Mansfield reviewed the Oscar winners and offered this strange explanation for why "Brokeback Mountain" didn't win Best Picture:
Teenagers, weary of “gay in your face” 24/7, responded more to the racial tensions and message of “Crash,” truly the best movie of the year, and perhaps in a decade. The ensemble cast — among them Sandra Bullock and Matt Dillon — gave stellar performances."Crash" was a good movie, but where did she get her intimate knowledge of how the sons and daughters of Academy members think?
Teenagers are why George Clooney won. Why Reese Witherspoon won. The sons and daughters of Academy members simply didn’t think Heath Ledger was deserving. They don’t see the sense of rewarding a repressed homosexual because they have grown up in a society where those men can freely find romance, love and even “marriage.”
Also, isn't the conservative press constantly telling us that Hollywood is too indulgent of gay and other non-mainstream causes? Suddenly, a columnist at the Washington Times wants us to believe that the sons and daughters of Hollywood insiders don't give a damn about the historical hardships endured by gay people.
I'm not sure what Mansfield meant when she asserted that these teens -- y'know, the ones who secretly decided the Oscar winners -- don't believe in "rewarding a repressed homosexual because they have grown up in a society where those men can freely find romance ..." The main actors who stood to be rewarded if "Brokeback" had won Best Picture or other major Oscars were Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal. Neither one is a repressed homosexual.
Mansfield is incredibly shallow if she believes that teenage moviegoers -- especially those who grow up in moviemaking households -- are incapable of connecting with a character who endures a hardship that is somewhat (but not entirely) dated.
If you carry Mansfield's argument one step further, would she suggest that no teenager who watched "Mississippi Burning" could sympathize with the African-American characters because blacks don't face this level of hostility today? Such a suggestion would be ludicrous.
Mansfield praised Phillip Seymur Hoffman’s performance in "Capote" (about the only opinion of hers that I agree with), but she offered this strange from of praise for Hoffman: "The actor never let [Capote's] homosexuality overshadow a brilliant tour de force piece of acting." Unlike the actors in "Brokeback," she seemed to be saying.
Mansfield doesn't seem to grasp the distinct storylines of these two films. Capote's homosexuality doesn't "overshadow" anything because the film is about his obsession with the brutal murders of a Kansas family of 4, not about Capote's sexual orientation.
By contrast, "Brokeback" focuses on the homosexual relationship of two cowboys. The dynamics of this secret relationship can't "overshadow" the film because it essentially is the film.
Based on her column, the only teenager that Mansfield definitely spoke with about "Brokeback" was her 20-year-old son, whom she describes as an avid moviegoer who was disinterested in seeing "Brokeback." At the end of her column, Mansfield offers a strong clue as to what her son's and/or her own disinterest is based on:
"As a heterosexual, he is blase about the whole fuss (over 'Brokeback Mountain')."Of course. As heterosexuals, you couldn't possibly be expected to watch or care about a movie like that. Thanks for clarifying.