...a blog by Richard Flowers

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Day 2035: How to make a point


Today, my daddies have watched two EXCITING movies: one was a serious study of the necessary fight against oppression, and the other was a gay romp.

One was called "Nine to Five" and the other was called "Brokeback Mountain". Can you guess which one was which?

It has often been said that you will get more from someone with a spoonful of SUGAR than you will by strapping them to a chair for two hours of seemingly unending misery as two gay cowboys fail to get married for all of their lives… and this is TRUE!

(Although, in this case it is SKINNY AND SWEET rather than sugar. Or possibly RAT-O-KILL: the boxes are identical except for the little skull-and-crossbones.)

"Brokeback Mountain" is a movie with a message. That message is: "can I have an Oscar, please; I need one to rehabilitate my reputation after 'Hulk'."

If I have learned one thing from this movie it is that there are some rubbish CARS in the American west. And no, the COMBINED HARVESTERS do not make things any better.

Presenting the idea that some cowboys are GAY COWBOYS should really come as SHOCK only to the sort of people who are shocked that some PEOPLE are gay people.

Hollywood is ever so keen to pat itself on the back for saying this sort of thing as if it is BRAVE of them to say shocking things. But really that only points up that there are a lot of people in Hollywood who are shocked that some cowboys are GAY COWBOYS. See point one.

Funnily enough there are gay people all over the world and many of them in places where it is even more horrid than the west of America. There are gay soldiers serving in Afghanistan; there are gay Muslims in Iraq; there are gay people working in call centres in India as well as among the super-rich of Hollywood. There are even gay giraffes necking on the plains of Africa. Ooh, they get everywhere! That is because they are PEOPLE! Is it really necessary to make a point out of the "gay" bit? Isn't it about time we had some characters in movies who were just gay without it being a POINT of the plot?

On the whole, I thought that the movie was quite mean to women. It was not the women's fault that the gay cowboys had gone and married them instead of each other, but the movie seemed to do a lot to make them seem cold and spiteful and vengeful. That was not really FAIR. After all they were really the ones on the receiving end of the Princess Diana treatment: there were three people in their marriages – and only two of them were going FISHING!

The only woman who got any snippet of dignity out of the movie was cowboy Jack's mum, who seemed to be hinting in a quietly understated way that she knew what had been going on and thought of cowboy Ennis as her "son-in-law". A bit.

Nobody was EXPLICITLY horrid about gay cowboys, but the threat of the QUEER-BASHERS – not seen but present in a couple of flashes probably inside Ennis's head – hung over a lot of what was left unsaid like the oppressive atmosphere that made the cowboys – especially Ennis – afraid of being themselves.

Sometimes people are not very brave, and that is understandable because otherwise JAMES BOND would be out of a job! But it does make for a depressing and in the end rather pointless couple of hours. Oh, they had a sad life.

Compared to this, "Nine to Five" was much more FUN. Although, in fairness, compared to this, THE SEVENTH SEAL is a barrel of laughs.

Jane Fonda plays "reasserting herself divorcee"; Dolly Parton plays "good Southern wife" and Lily Tomlin plays "single mum with the brains to run the company". And although none of them are typical feminist clichés, all three are strong feminist characters: women who might begin by being downtrodden, abused or taken advantage of but by the end of the movie are shown to be in control of their own lives and the better for it.

Moreover, it is shown that their way is better for their COMPANY than the biased, small-minded and selfish MALE plans of their boss.

That boss, Franklin Hart – or F. 'art as they know him – is the IRONIC agent of their liberation. After he is PARTICULARLY horrid one day, they all bunk off together to daydream about giving him his comeuppance in hilarious drug induced Technicolor FANTASY sequences. (Nothing Mr Balloon-esque: it is only strong marihuana!) Jane Fonda joins the big game hunt; Dolly Parton wins the star turkey at the rodeo; and best of all Lily Tomlin dreams up something that can only be described as DEATH BY DISNEY!

The real trouble begins when a series of accidents – yes, this is where the RAT-O-KILL comes in – conspire to convince Lily that she has recreated her fantasy in real life, and poisoned the odious Hart. Not to be outdone, soon the others are hogtieing and shooting at him.

Being a FARCE, this ends up with Mr Hart imprisoned up in his own bedroom while his adoring (and blind to his faults) wife takes a month long cruise. But with the boss away, the mice can not so much play as run the business properly! Soon job share, flexitime and the office crèche are tripling efficiency and morale is further boosted by allowing personal items on desks – not to mention the office AA programme!

Naturally, it is not as easy as all that to outfox wily Mr Hart, but be assured that when he takes the credit for what has happened, he DEFINITELY gets the reward he deserves!

Oh, and there is even a sly nod to racism, with "downtrodden" Jane Fonda STILL being recruited from outside over the head of the BLACK MAN from the post room. Subtle, and probably all they could get away with without the studio noticing!

Why is this better than "Brokeback Mountain"?

Mainly, because you are not slapped around the fluffy head with a FEMINIST AGENDA like it is a big HANDBAG. Instead, "Nine to Five" just proceeds from the assumption that it is TRUE. You can see that it is BEHIND all the thinking, but it is not the ONLY thing that the movie is thinking about.

Instead of being all: "ooh, women are so downtrodden" it is all "here's a funny story (and look, aren't things better when you treat people right)".

Also, Dolly Parton's theme song is VERY singable and unlike the music from "Brokeback Mountain" would not leave MORRISSEY thinking, "hmm, that's a bit of a downer".

Daddy Alex style Daytime TV link: Lily Tomlin is ALSO a regular guest star in TV's "The West Wing", the everyday story of running-America folk. And obviously trying to pick up when that series left of was "oh look at how feminist we are" series "Commander in Chief".

Daddy has already talked about this a bit, but it makes me SAD to think that America has gone so far backwards from 1980's "Nine to Five" that "Commander in Chief" thinks the cutting edge of feminism is to air "issues" about – golly –a woman being president.

Certainly, since it was about the FIRST woman to be President, then OBVIOUSLY some of the stories should have been about how other people found that difficult and other other people did not. But instead, they made the focus much more about Mrs President's FAMILY and oh how HARD it is to be a proper Mummy whilst running the country, and isn't it difficult to find time to do the BAKING when you have to keep going down to the SIT-ROOM to nuke the jelly-beanz out of North Korea. Again.

Short of having She-Ra, Princess of Power, appear at the end of each episode to tell us what this week's moral was, I do not think that this could have had a BLUNTER cutting edge!

It is just like "Brokeback Mountain": where "Nine to Five" was a sign of confidence or even EXUBERANCE, this is a sign that the liberal agenda is now so WEAK, so BEATEN UP, so BEATEN DOWN that it resorts to saying OBVIOUS things.

The Neo-Con agenda of Strong Government, Selfishness and Smiting has stolen the airwaves. Not by making movies ABOUT that, but by making movies where that is just ASSUMED to be the way that things are.

It is no good making WORTHY movies that are watched by people who think they OUGHT to watch them – because that way you only GET the people who think they ought to watch them. What you want is a movie that says "this is big dumb FUN!" Oh and leaves 'em thinking after they go out the door.

The only blockbuster movie that has challenged the Neo-Con philosophy recently is "Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith" and bless my stuffing the Neo-Con's WON!

What have caring and sharing and cuddly teddy-bears got on that? "Return of the Jedi": I rest my case!

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