Brokeback Conspiracy?

brokeback-mountain[1]Did you see the Oscars?

Most people who did said it was possibly the most boring presentation in years. That seems to be the consensus, but many people can also agree it’s been the most controversial airing of all time.

On March 5th, After a four hour ceremony, and many mixed reviews, audiences shared a worldwide gasp of shock and horror as the announcer declared “And the Oscar goes to: Crash”. I personally was also rather shocked (not horrified) as “Brokeback” was expected to sweep the Oscars, and yet only really won for technical awards.

But what was more shocking, was how fans of “Brokeback” and people whom disliked “Crash” gathered to cry foul against the Academy. Fans of “Brokeback” claimed that the Oscar Academy had it out for the film from the very beginning and the lack of awards (Brokeback had the most nominations) showed how truly homophobic they were while gladly branding “Crash” the worst film to ever win for Best Picture (that honor goes to “Titanic”).

Hyperbolic? Yes, indeed. Especially for a movie.

That is in itself the product of paranoia, and sheer immaturity. The fact that “Crash” won should have no bearing on the film’s quality. For a society so intent on claiming the Oscars were nothing but a show intended for Hollywood to pat each other on the backs, they took immense umbrage and importance to this loss almost as if this was a death sentence against all homosexuals. The backlash only further served to show Hollywood that the Oscars are important to us, especially when fixing this witch hunt.

Even Anne Proulx, author of “Brokeback” completely contradicts any intelligence she wants to get across after writing to a British newspaper with a scathing letter claiming the lack of awards was the Academy speaking of their lack of progression and to take away the importance the Oscars by not paying attention to it. She even went as far as calling “Crash”, “Trash”. How utterly mature of you, Ms. Proulx.

Let’s dissect her letter: Here’s a woman claiming the awards were irrelevant, yet felt angered enough by these awards that she had to cause an uproar about it and yell fire in a crowded theater, then she pleads with people to ignore the Oscars by calling them out, writing to an international newspaper so everyone can read. How contradictory. Or as writers call it “Poetic Irony”. Seems like Ms. Proulx wants to just remind people she penned “Brokeback”.

Fact is, the outcry against this decision was rather overblown and completely uncalled for. But was there a conspiracy by the Academy? It’s a common fact that the Academy has always and will always be elitist and conservative going for safe films and never nominating the films that should rightly be nominated. This is an Academy that has been around for 78 years, yet you add up all the black Oscar winners and it doesn’t even make a double digit number, this is the same academy that awarded best picture to “Shakespeare in Love” instead of “Saving Private Ryan”.

I won’t deny that there were inklings before and after the ceremony. There were intimations that the Academy purposely didn’t award “Brokeback” the Best Picture award because of its story. Citing “Entertainment Weekly”, Academy board member Ernest Borgnine admitted openly:

“I didn’t see it and I don’t care to see it. If John Wayne were alive, he’d be rolling over in his grave.”

It’s hints like that that could plant the seeds of a conspiracy in anyone whom were fans of “Brokeback”. But our hypotheses was that there really was no conspiracy, “Crash” was just better. If you recall, we saw four out of the five nominees, and I originally voted for “Crash” to win best picture because I thought it was better. Here were my choices from rankings of most favored to least favored:

1. Crash (Review) – This was just the best film, which is why I voted for it. I gave it a four star review, and contributor Neal Bailey seemed to agree wholeheartedly that it was an excellent film. The utterly shocking hatred for this for winning is a true display of immaturity by those unwilling to just let sleeping dogs lie.

2. Good Night, and Good Luck (Review, Review) – True, it’s not hard to scrutinize the McCarthy era, but “Good Night and Good Luck” was an excellent piece of filmmaking, and Cinema Crazed gave it four stars in both reviews. It featured excellent performances especially by David Straithairn who really shows his skill, top notch direction by George Clooney, and master storytelling.

3. Munich (Review) – This was basically an amazing film that Spielberg deserved praise for. While many didn’t agree with his message, it was surely a film that sparked controversy and arguments among those supporters and non-supporters of the war on terror for a message that is immensely relevant.

4. Brokeback Mountain (Review) – This was a very good film, but hardly what I’d call a masterpiece. It featured excellent acting, writing, and direction, but gay cowboys? There has always been homo-erotic subtext in the cowboy zeitgeist, and though I won’t deny it’s a very good movie, it’s overrated and over blown. This was my dark horse. Pun not intended. Did I rate it last because I’m homophobic? On the contrary. Read the review and make your assessment. We gave it three stars.

We didn’t see “Capote”, but the critical response from fans, and critics alike spelled out that it was a very good movie. “Brokeback” was a winner that night. Had Brokeback not won anything, you could make the argument that there was a conspiracy, but “Brokeback” won for the artistic awards, and swept the Independent Spirit Awards a day before.

I voted for David Straithairn for best actor over Heath Ledger because he gave a better performance, in best supporting actor I voted for Gyllenhaal simply because he gave a great performance, and in best supporting actress I voted for Amy Adams whose performance went miles beyond Michelle Williams’.

But was there some conservative conspiracy against “Brokeback”? Not by our accounts.

If you recall:

  • Felicity Huffman was nominated for Best Actress for playing an openly gay and transsexual character. She lost out to critical favorite Reese Witherspoon.
  • Phillip Seymour Hoffman was nominated for Best Actor, and won for playing openly gay author Truman Capote. Another critical favorite. Capote’s homosexuality was not presented in undertones or hints, he was an openly gay man, and Hoffman portrayed him as openly gay. Hoffman, who won even has a history of playing gay men in “Boogie Nights” and “Flawless”.
  • “Brokeback” scribe Larry McMurtyr won for best adapted screenplay by Anne Proulx, the sore loser and author of “Brokeback”. He deserved it because it’s a skill taking an eleven page story and turning it in to a very good two hour film.
  • Ang Lee won for Best Director. He was also a critical favorite and my choice for best director. Ang Lee admitted to taking on the film because of its story and themes.

Was there a conspiracy? Not by our account. But perhaps the supporters of “Brokeback” should top and take stock. The people whom were angered and enraged that “Brokeback” didn’t win because it was a homosexual themed film, are the same people who wanted it to win because it was a homosexual themed film. Isn’t it basically the pot calling the kettle black in this case? I’m not denying it wasn’t a good film, but re-thinking your motives would be best in the long run.

Of course, it will be debated over years to come, that’s without a doubt. We think “Crash” won because they thought it was a better film, as did we. But it doesn’t matter what we think because people will assume what they want to, but the unanimous hatred for “Crash” because it won, and only because it won is summed up by Lisa Schwarzbaum who said it best:

“The conviction that one Oscar winner has got to stink if it trumps the one you favor is exactly why the Oscars have very little to do with “bests”.”

But our last word remains: Get over it. Get a life. It was one show. The fact that “Brokeback” lost is no testament or conspiracy, nor is it a step back in the gay rights movement. They thought “Crash” was better. As did we. Move on, already.

I’ve spoken my peace.