I was planning to stay out of the whole debate over Hollywood’s current critical darling, “Brokeback Mountain,” a.k.a. “the gay cowboy movie.” I even resisted the impulse to respond to fellow Idol Chatterer Donna’s eloquent analysis of the movie. But yesterday I happened to run across this article from the Associated Press about how a suburban Salt Lake City theater owned by NBA Utah Jazz owner Larry Miller decided at the last minute to not show the film, indicating implicitly (if not explicitly) that the decision was directly linked to the homosexuality that is central to the story. For me, this tiny news tidbit became the proverbial last straw–even though I am sure this is not the last example of censorship or politizing of this polarizing issue. I now feel compelled to vent about the uproar that has made “Brokeback” this year’s “Million Dollar Baby.”
While I love discussing movies as much as the next person, if not more, I am completely disinterested in propaganda of any kind–pro-gay/anti-gay, pro-liberal/anti-liberal, you name it, I dislike it all. And what I find especially frustrating is when movies are reduced to propaganda by the news and entertainment media. And that is exactly what has happened to “Brokeback.” The film is being reviewed less for its artistic merits as for its ability to make an argument for a cause. The movie has been latched onto by the political left as a shining example of an enduring love that demonstrates society’s intolerance and the need to legalize gay marriage. Over on the right, religious groups are applying pressure, such as the case in Utah, to not show the film at all because it goes against the fundamental values of their beliefs.
My irritation lies in the fact that, in my opinion, both sides are wrong. The story, much as real life, is far more complex and does not deserve to be reduced to the role of nothing more than a poster child in a culture war. It also doesn’t deserve all the hype.
As I watched “Brokeback” after reading reviews primarily favorable to the film, I found it impossible to believe anyone would watch this movie and come away from it believing that everything would be perfect for Jack and Ennis if only they lived in a world where gay marriage was legal. Jack cannot bring himself to be faithful to either his wife or Ennis, so is a wedding ring really the answer? In fact, both men have serious unresolved childhood issues, which sabotage all of their relationships. At the same time, it was also difficult to watch the film and not feel the pain of these two men bent on self-destruction and feel some compassion. So here I am once again, standing somewhere in the middle of the cultural and spiritual divide of our country, wishing a movie could just be a movie.
I was at a dinner party the other day–you know, a little chips, dip, some chile, good conversation, and to wash it all down, He’brew: The Chosen Beer! Imagine my surprise when I noticed the bottle, whose label has what looks to be a very happy Hasidic man (I think) holding up two beers triumphantly, with the Brooklyn Bridge on the left and Jerusalem on the right as a back drop. Not something you drink everyday, right?
For the curious, this particular brew, one of several He’brew blends, was called “Genesis Ale,” billed as “A Smooth and Distinct Light Brown Ale,” and it comes with a little story:
Why is this beer different from all other beers? In the beginning, the was an idea, and it was good. A Gourmet Kosher Microbrew to celebrate the bounty of our own American land of milk and honey. Our first creation is Genesis Ale, a rich, smooth, and disticntive light brown ale. A smidgen of Middle East, a dash of American West… Then we tasted it, and it was very good After 5000 years of civilization, finally a microbrew with the chutzpah to call itself The Chosen Beer. From the Golden Gate to the City of God, may HE’BREW join in the blessings of your lives… To Life! L’Chaim!
The taste of God’s Chosen Beer? Well, to be honest, it’s just OK.
From Jay Leno last night, referring to Jesus’ occasional appearances as a character in NBC’s “The Book of Daniel“:
Tough year for Jesus. Last year, He was the superstar leading character of the biggest movie of the year, “The Passion of the Christ.” Now, he’s relegated to a recurring role in a dead show on the fourth-place network!
As for me, one of the questions I’ll have for Him when I get there: “When you were referenced irreverently in culture–even if innocently intended–did you cringe at the ignorance and disrespect to your Name or chuckle at the succes of your plan to remind people of Your existence?”
Although it may surprise a lot of people, I find the new face of religion on TV in the form of the “Dog: The Bounty Hunter” (Tuesdays at 9), A & E’s highest-rated series ever.
The show, which gives us a look into the often-misunderstood world of bail bonding, focuses on Duane “Dog” Chapman and his family of bounty hunters, including wife Beth, two of his 12 children, Leland and Duane Lee, and friend Tim Chapman (no relation). A former sergeant-at-arms in a motorcycle gang called “Devil’s Disciples,” Dog explains on his website how he got his cool nickname:
“We [had] a guy in the gang who’s always mad at God. He’s always flipping God off. So I started praying for him. Since we already have a ‘Preacher’ and a ‘John the Baptist’ in the gang, I became known as Dog—God backwards.”
Although he went to prison for two years for the murder of a drug dealer he insists he didn’t commit, Dog has left his gang life behind and is now a born-again Christian, motivational speaker, and the self-proclaimed, “Greatest Bounty Hunter in the World,” with over 6,000 captures under his belt during his 27-year career. Dog and his family pray every time they go out on a bounty hunt to track down someone who has skipped bail. He knows his job is dangerous, but he trusts that God will keep him safe so he can come back home to his children.
Throughout the show, Dog utters little bits of advice or wisdom, which he calls “Dogisms.” One of my favorites is, “I like to hear that God goes before us, because he is the biggest bullet proof vest of all.”