Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Brokeback Bombast

Is Andrew Sullivan now contributing his astute pop-culture acumen to the Hollywood Reporter? No, but this silly, fawning HR story on Brokeback Mountain reads as though it could have spurted out of Sullivan:
There's never been a homosexual cowboy movie, and while the indies have been supplying gay romances to the art house circuit for years, and gay series like "Queer as Folk" and "Will & Grace" have been pulling big numbers on TV, there hasn't been a mainstream gay love story since 1982's "Making Love," which bombed and was blamed by many for damaging Harry Hamlin's career. "It's the one last frontier," says Lee.

Let's leave aside subjective questions about "frontiers" for a moment and concern ourselves with the falsifiable portion of the above: Have Queer as Folk and Will & Grace really been "pulling big numbers" on TV?

Not quite.

Will & Grace was a medium-sized success for NBC on Monday nights beginning in 1998, but it never became a break-away hit--even when the network moved it to the coveted Thursday night Must-See lineup. Its Nielsen numbers, never very good, have been in steep decline for a couple years now. At its height, Will & Grace never garnered more than about 14 million viewers, and on average has been closer to 7 or 8 million.

And Queer as Folk? Are you kidding? Airing on the pay-cable net Showtime, Queer as Folk could never come close to even Will & Grace's modest numbers--because Showtime only has 13 million subscribers, total. So QaF's relatively "huge" numbers--it debuted with nearly 4 million viewers--have to be taken in context. They may be nice for Showtime, but on a broadcast network, 4 million people gets a show canceled.

What we have here is another case of people desperately trying to make Brokeback Mountain part of a Big Cultural Trend.

Bonus: I haven't seen the movie yet. Maybe it's great; maybe it's a dog. I hope it's great.

But what do you think the chances are that Brokeback Mountain is the best-reviewed movie of the year, no matter what? If it stinks, would anyone dare say so? And do you maybe get the sense that perhaps many members of the entertainment press doesn't even need to see Brokeback Mountain to figure out what they think?


Anonymous said...

Meant to include this link:


Anonymous said...

I betcha it won't be seen by most people and won't make a lot of money. It is not due to homophobia, it is due to indifference.

Do I want to spend $8.00 and 2 hours of my life watching a gay-cowboy movie? No. Is it because I don't like gay people? No, I just don't care about the movie. Andrew Sullivan might think I am a narrow-minded person but I don't care.

Ralphie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

"...could have spurted out of Sullivan..."

Damn you, Last.

Ralphie said...

I wonder what was more embarassing for Hamlin to be a part of - that one or Clash of the Titans?

Anonymous said...


Clash of the Titans, Ray Harryhausen had his fine name attached to that bomb. So did Laurence Olivier and Burgess Meredith.

Tis a pity, Greek myths should be made into movie seeing that CGI would make the stories great. Just think if someone like Peter Jackson could direct the Odyssey. I don't count Troy because it left the gods out of it.

Anonymous said...

Isn't the whole purpose of this post just to say "spurted out of Sullivan"? Allow me to come out and say it: we get it, already. No need to keep hammering away. This joke--such as it is--is pretty spent.

Anonymous said...

There is no audience for this film. Nobody, outside of a tiny sliver of country, has any interest in seeing gay cowboys getting it on. The only way this film doesn't flop big time is if Andrew Sullivan goes out buys 12 million tickets.

And, you know, he just might ...

Anonymous said...

Anon 10:19 Spent! Hah! Very good.

But Anon 10:53, you're wrong, and naive --- there absolutely will be an audience for this "frontier-breaking" film. And, it will win Best Picture for being so "groundbreaking."

Anonymous said...

Please. Anon 10:19's joke is "come out", not "spent". Sheesh.

Anonymous said...

For what it's worth, I read the original story by Annie Proulx and thought it was quite good. I could easily see a decent movie being made from it.

No, question, though, this story comes with a pre-written narrative in terms of its media coverage. The film would have to fall off the reel, burst into flames, and set off a fire that injured dozens of moviegoers before it would get less than a three-star review.

And yes, that "spurted out of Sullivan" joke is getting pretty limp. Maybe it's time to give it a rest.

Anonymous said...

Actually 10:19's joke is "hammering".

Anonymous said...

2:41 "getting pretty limp"

Uh huh.

Really, this joke is over now.