Recently we bought a new DVD player and with it came a month of free DVD rentals. The first movie that we chose is “Brokeback Mountain”. I’m sure that everyone knows what separates this movie from all other mainstream successful movies; gay cowboys.
I don’t think that I’m a prude, for the most part at least. I have gay and lesbian and bisexual friends, co-workers, associates, though no family members that I know of. I also don’t have much of an issue watching gay/lesbian/bi porn, so I was surprised at the degree to which the intimate scenes in “Brokeback” were difficult for me to watch. The first difficult scene was when they touch each others faces with the backs of their fingers. They weren’t even kissing or touching each others genitals or anything but it was so obviously intimate and sexual that I was pretty uncomfortable.
I’m still reflecting on this days later and what I’m realizing is that it’s not the sex or implied sex or intimacy that bothers me, rather, it’s the assumption on my part that neither actor is gay or bisexual and that these scenes are entirely acting. For some reason I automatically and immediately put myself in the actor’s shoes and thought, I couldn’t bring myself to do that. (By contrast it’s possible that I assume that porn actors are actually gay/lesbian/bi or even hetro as depicted in their sex scenes, even though the likelihood of them not being so inclined and that they are doing so only for the money is probably a lot higher than is the case for mainstream actors.)
Why is this? I’ve done a little acting in the past but very little. Is it some subconscious identification that goes on constantly whenever I watch a movie, and it’s only because of the intensity of my reaction that I become aware of it in this case? I think this is a possibility. I also have a decent fear of heights and if I think that a person on the screen, in this case more likely a documentary person or a clip on the news, is actually dangling from a building or the side of a mountain and the camera gives a good shot of it, that’ll get a reaction out of me as well.
So this identification with the presumed reality of dangling off a building, being trapped underwater, or the “reality” behind the actor’s words and actions seems to be quite a bit deeper and stronger than the presented “reality” of the movie. What does this mean for me as a writer of fiction? Most good fiction has at least some basis in reality. It’s probably an indicator that I need to maintain some connection with reality in order to generate a story that moves me.