Would you watch this?

In a completely unscientific poll of some of my friends and acquaintances in Singapore, I can't find a single straight guy who's willing to watch Brokeback Mountain. The most common reason proffered is a reluctance to watch a gay relationship between men portrayed onscreen.

I'm ... surprised, to say the least. This is a biased sample of my friends and acquaintances, after all.

* * *

The first time I saw gay men kiss onscreen was in the movie Jeffrey, which someone rented at some point in my college years. I don't actually remember anything of the movie now. But without fanfare, hullabaloo or anything remotely resembling an epiphany, it normalised for me the sight of kissing between men.

The first time I read about love and sex between gay men with the same intensity we've grown to accept and even expect in heterosexual couples, was in the Alan Hollinghurst novel The Swimming Pool Library, which I read a few years ago. In my review of books read in 2003, I described Hollinghurst as "a good fiction writer, not just a good gay fiction writer", because that distinction was (and is) important to me. To pigeonhole him as a good gay writer --- or, for that matter, to pigeonhole anyone as a good insert-your-ethnicity-/nationality-/minority-of-choice writer --- would be to imply that what Hollinghurst had to say only mattered to a gay readership or as a portrayal of gay relationships.

But his stories have universal resonance regardless of a reader's sexuality, just as good writing in a language other than English or from a country outside of Asia can have universal resonance for me (as long as it's translated into English, that is). Hollinghurst's descriptions of what gay men can feel for each other were an eye-opener, not because I didn't expect men to have such feelings for each other, but because I didn't expect myself, upon my first encounter with gay fiction, to so easily disregard the characters' genders to read about those feelings.

Is it easier in our culture for me, as a woman, to accept images of homosexuality because it doesn't threaten me? That's what conventional wisdom would have us believe, anyway. Images of women kissing have become fetishized to titillate the male libido, so it doesn't matter whether it's lesbians or women doing it for a lark, à la Madonna-Britney-Christina. Images of men kissing, on the other hand ...

Yet, it's important. Is it acceptable today to declare disgust at seeing people of different races exchange kisses, or people from different classes? How about if one finds abhorrent the image of a woman depicted in a position of power? And at what point does discomfort become so strong that it manifests itself, outwardly or not, in discrimination, prejudice and a complete lack of understanding of the Other?

Of course I'm not insisting that everyone watch Brokeback Mountain because they will then magically get over their discomfort, if any, at watching men kissing. In my ideal world, people have a choice about what they want to watch and are given enough information about what's available, so that they can decide for themselves whether they wish to see a particular programme or film.

On that note, here's my second readers' poll, then: Would you watch Brokeback Mountain?

In responding, please indicate your gender and sexuality. As always, feel free to append additional remarks and witticisms.


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At 2/12/2006 12:45 pm , Blogger avalon said...

Yeah I would. Female straight.

At 2/12/2006 1:25 pm , Blogger LittleRedDotGuru said...

Yes I would, but only with Cowboy Caleb.

Male and heterosexual.

At 2/12/2006 3:42 pm , Blogger NARDAC said...

No, and not because I'm uncomfortable with gay men kissing but because I'm tired of crying over stoic people who can't give into their emotions.


At 2/12/2006 7:58 pm , Blogger  said...

hey, you forgot NAB - he said he'll watch it with us! =)

At 2/12/2006 8:01 pm , Blogger Yuhui said...

I would, if I had time. I still haven't watched Memoirs.

At 2/12/2006 11:39 pm , Blogger Little Miss Drinkalot said...

I still remember the first time I saw gay men kissing - in a gay club in London. I was traumatised, because I had thought one of the guys was really really hot (i.e. wanted him for myself), only to have him snatched away by this really really hairy man wearing nothing but electric blue hot pants.

Not sure about whether I'd watch the movie though. I only watch brainless movies.

At 2/13/2006 12:21 am , Blogger Aki Tan said...

Yea I would, and I know two straight male friends who watched it together too... they were a little shy at first ["eewww!!!! i'm not watching it with him!"] but since it was award-winning and supposed to be good and all, they decided to go for it...

I'm straight female btw

At 2/13/2006 1:42 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Confirm will watch if I have time.

Nominated for Oscars leh!

Male and straight as an arrow. ;)

Speaking of which, let's all go catch it together when it opens!

At 2/13/2006 4:54 am , Blogger Olorin said...

I wouldn't. It isn't a movie I want to watch.

Male, straight.

At 2/13/2006 7:42 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would, in the sense that it's got about the same priority as the other movies now. Male hetero

At 2/13/2006 7:43 am , Blogger Andrew said...

Hey Ms. Bala (don't think anyone calls u that right now yea? :p), it's Andrew here from your A03A class.

Straight, male. And I have watched it already.

I'm going to write something soon on my blog about the responses to the movie, so look out for that. The entry's still 'in the making'.

I accidentally deleted my old blog but my new blog is at http://pursuingthewow.blogspot.com.

At 2/13/2006 8:58 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Watched it already and it's amazing.

Male, Gay

At 2/13/2006 9:32 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm straight. i watched Brokeback Mountain already.


At 2/13/2006 9:42 am , Blogger Gingerbreadman said...

Sure, would watch it. If nothing, for the fact that it's a lee ang movie. straight male.

At 2/13/2006 10:36 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

no, and it's because i'm not into cowboy-related movies. female, bi.

At 2/13/2006 1:07 pm , Blogger Jess said...

have watched and will watch again and again - how ever many times it takes so that I can drag all my straight guy friends to it.

At 2/13/2006 10:14 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

male and straight.

will watch with cowboycaleb and makanguru. heh.

At 2/14/2006 12:47 am , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, the first time I saw men kiss on screen is when gary kelly kissed ian harte(http://photos.empics.com/g75/p39/371911.htm) during a football match.

At 2/14/2006 8:58 am , Blogger Jaschocolate said...

i will but only if i can watch it on dvd.. rental is cheaper..

At 2/14/2006 6:16 pm , Blogger Packrat said...

Uhm...Would watch it if it actually contained things that interested me, i.e. a final showdown in a bar that involved guns a la Unforgiven. But seriously, not a big fan of the Ang Lee beautiful landscape movies.

Male: Hetero.

At 2/15/2006 7:59 pm , Blogger Stormtrooper's Lackey said...

will watch it with an open mind.

male n hetro.

At 2/17/2006 1:34 pm , Blogger Postmaster-General said...

Brokeback Mountain. For sure. I loved it. Would watch it again.

Straight (I think) and Male


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