The Secret Cowboy Agenda

On 6 February, 2006, in Rants, by C. Scott Davis

Brokeback Mountain

Even if you haven’t seen it, you’d have to have been living in a cave not to have heard about it, or all of the controversy surrounding it.

The biggest concern that many people have over this film is that it sends a clear message to our nation’s impressionable youth: It is okay to be a cowboy.

For a lot of people, this is very troubling, and I have to admit that I am one of them.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not cowboyphobic. I think that whatever people do in the privacy of their own rodeo circuit is their business. I just don’t think we need to legitimise the cowboy lifestyle, or as this film has done, glamorise it.

I worry that films such as Brokeback Mountain are going to cause young people, especially gay young people, to be tempted to experiment with cowboyality, and while I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with being a cowboy, I wouldn’t want my son to be one.

It’s perfectly normal to be curious. I think most of us have probably wondered what it would be like to wear spurs or rope a steer, but that doesn’t mean we’re actually going to do it (okay, maybe that one time in college, but that doesn’t count).

The problem is that Brokeback Mountain is really just the latest attempt to make being a cowboy seem like a perfectly normal way of life. Sure, there has always been a subtle cowboy subtext in popular culture (take, for example, “slash” fiction – where fans write cowboy stories about their favourite fictional characters), but the critical and popular success of this film moves that subtext out of the closet and thrusts it firmly in the face of mainstream society.

I am also troubled by the possibility that our treasured gay icons have been irreparably tarnished by this film. Now when we see a beloved gay character, we can’t help but wonder if they might’ve secretly been a cowboy. Before Brokeback Mountain, such a thought would’ve never occurred to me, but now I’m haunted by the prospect of Carroll “Toddy” Todd in a Stetson and chaps.

I’m not suggesting censorship or trying to promote cowboyphobia here. I just don’t want to have to see so much cowboyness everywhere I look. From Cowboy Pride Parades to Cowboy Marriage, we are being constantly bombarded with cowboy-related issues and images, and frankly I’m sick of it.

I say if they want to be cowboys, fine, but why can’t they just keep quiet about it?

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2 Responses to “The Secret Cowboy Agenda”

  1. Just to clarify…

    I’m not biased against cowboys. I have friends who are cowboys (at least I assume I do, since if any of them are, they’ve had the decency not to tell me about it).

    I am, however, firmly against allowing cowboys to marry, since this would ultimately destroy the institution of marriage, in much the same way that allowing women and minorities to vote has destroyed the institution of voting.

    And, while it’s far too late to unring that particular bell, we do have a chance to avoid repeating the same mistake again.

    After all, if you give everyone the same rights, it diminishes the value of those rights to the privileged few who had them before.

  2. Gelbe Zähne says:

    When are you going to post again? You really entertain a lot of people!

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