February 20, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) — Friday was the big day for Lovesong, a(nother) bittersweet lesbian romance that drew mixed reviews when it debuted at last year’s Sundance film festival. Its makers have waited until now for its commercial release.
Is Lovesong the lesbian Brokeback Mountain? Even Brokeback Mountain was not the Brokeback Mountain it was billed to be. By its release a decade ago, Hollywood had already become famously homosexual (I recall around that time asking someone for the time in a West Hollywood McDonald’s — and five (very buff) guys answered instantly).
But America is not West Hollywood. Brokeback did not usher in a new era of similarly mainstream, big budget, big star, homosexual blockbusters.
It was a one-off. The audience it found consisted of people who had come to believe that homosexuality is acceptable. People have similarly been conditioned to believe that abortion is acceptable. Yet 90 percent of obstetrician/gynecologists refuse to do abortions. In addition, 95 percent of people refuse to be homosexuals.
Still, there was enough of this 95 percent who suppressed their gag reflex, patted themselves on the back for their tolerance, and saw Brokeback to make it a success. Apparently, they did not go home and say to their heterosexual partners, “Hey, that was way cool. Let’s look for another same-sex movie.”
The fancy term “surrogate protagonist” captures the problem here. When we watch a Rocky movie, we males put ourselves in Sylvester Stallone’s shoes. However, with whom do we identify in Brokeback Mountain when Heath Ledger kisses Jake Gyllenhaal? Jake or Heath?
Of course, there are many movie viewers who approach film from a far, far more elevated perspective than this. But most are like me, I bet. The surrogate protagonist factor is important. So is the gag factor. The re-emergence of the white Evangelical Protestant demographic in Donald Trump’s election triumph can only remind the financiers who make the final decisions in Hollywood of both.
Since Brokeback Mountain came out 10 years ago, what other movies have you seen about homosexual romance? I googled and found “most popular ‘gay’ feature films released 2015-01-01 to 2015-12-3” on the respected industry website IMDb. The top one was Spotlight, of all things, which is about the Catholic hierarchy covering up for priests engaged in homosexual assaults on altar boys. Homosexuals are the villains of that piece.
Next is Danish Girl, which is about an early instance of transgenderism and not about homosexuals at all. Further along is Remember, which is a Holocaust movie. Child 44 is about a serial killer in the Soviet Union. The first movie with a homosexual hero on the list is I am Michael. It is a true story of an American homosexual activist who becomes a heterosexual Evangelical pastor. Hollywood’s most popular gay movies are not gay.
So next I found “the 12 best LGBT films of 2016.” This is an amateur site listing movies you mostly have never heard of. Spa Night leads off. A Korean effort, it grossed US$38,500 and played in one theater — I am guessing the one next to that McDonald’s on Hollywood Boulevard.
Also on the list are Other People ($91,000 gross), Holding the Man ($909,000 gross) and one big winner called Moonlight, which grossed $22 million on a production budget of $4 million. Have you heard about it? Seen it? People are making movies about homosexuality but not many people are seeing them.
However, what about a female Brokeback Mountain? There will not be one because there is no need. There is nothing there to break through. The first lesbian movie that I am aware of with major stars was The Fox. It was made 50 years ago with Keir Dullea and Sandy Dennis. Since then, there have probably been hundreds of non-pornographic lesbian movies produced resembling Lovesong.
There have been one or two major successes. One of these was Carol. It hit the screens in 2015 and starred Cate Blanchett as the older woman and Rooney Mara as the younger one she seduces. With Blanchett’s box office appeal, it netted $30 million.
Why wasn’t it the lesbian Brokeback? Homosexual critics say it did not achieve the earlier film’s impact because it was shut out of the major Academy Awards by an academy dominated by elderly white males. However, Brokeback itself was shut out of the major Oscars. That cannot be the problem.
The problem is there is no problem. Homosexuality is no longer news. It is not only no longer prohibited, it is actually privileged. The familiar tropes about victimhood have worn thin. The actual, fleshy acts of homosexuality remain under appealing to most heterosexual moviegoers. Out here in the real world, we would rather watch movies about wise dogs, talking Lego toys and people more like us.