The movie Brokeback Mountain is being showered with critical acclaim. It illustrates a point I made at the TitusOneNine blog a few weeks ago: At least in this country, the cultural war about homosexuality is just about over.
For years if not decades, the American entertainment industry (which I'll refer to generically as "Hollywood") has been supportive of gays, often in muted fashion but still pretty much openly. Brokeback Mountain seems to mark a ramp-up point, signifying that Hollywood is now willing to make increasing financial and reputational bets on the pro-gay side. That's noteworthy, for two reasons.
• First, Hollywood is not known for being insensitive to customer moods. As a general rule of thumb, what the public doesn't want, the public doesn't get. It says a lot that Hollywood is willing to gamble that the public won't reject sympathetic portrayals of gays.
To be sure, traditionalists can point to the recent success of state ballot initiatives prohibiting same-sex union. If I'm not mistaken, every time such a measure has been put to the voters, it has been approved by wide margins. But the same voters also watch movies and TV shows such as Will & Grace; Four Weddings and a Funeral; My Best Friend's Wedding; Friends; and Six Feet Under, to name but a few, and to say nothing of Brokeback Mountain.
(Just think of how quickly one line from Seinfeld entered the lexicon: "Not that there's anything wrong with that ....")
• Second, from a cultural perspective, the American entertainment industry is a superpower with unmatched resources. If Hollywood continues to portray the gay lifestyle in a positive light, over time that will be pretty much the ball game. The traditionalist die-hards will continue to fight a rear-guard action, of course. But the younger generation's views will be informed by those of Hollywood. As the years go by, younger voters will eventually dismantle, piece by piece, the defense-of-marriage laws that are being enacted now.
And in 50 years, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren will wonder what all the fuss was about.