Representation of the Gay Community

Today we spoke in class about the representation of Jack and Ennis as being overtly masculine characters. It could be argued that their representation in this way may makes their homosexual identity more easily digestible to a wider range of audiences; specifically heterosexual males. In Mercer’s piece “Dark and Lovely,” he speaks to the problems this kind of representation presents:

In a situation where the right to representation is rationed and regulated, so that minorities experience restricted access to the means of representation, there is often an assumption on the part of funding institutions and an expectation on the part of the audiences that they should “speak for” their particular community (CV 744).

In this case, other homosexual identities are neglected for one which, as aforementioned, that might cater better to heterosexual audiences. Brokeback Mountain does not “speak for” any gay person who does not behave in a way that is typically considered hypermasculine, i.e. fishing, tractor riding, gun wheeling men.

Writing about Brokeback, Film critic Roger Ebert counters this point, saying,

Strange but true: The more specific a film is, the more universal, because the more it understands individual characters, the more it applies to everyone. I can imagine someone weeping at this film, identifying with it, because he always wanted to stay in the Marines, or be an artist or a cabinetmaker (

Watching the scene in which Jack and Ennis are arguing over the brevity of their times at Brokeback, I was reminded of a past long distance relationship that I had and the heartache it entailed. I am sure that others viewing the film each identified with specific points as well.

Despite the pressure and impossibility to represent a whole group of people in a film, Ebert’s argument points to the commercial success of Brokeback. By underrepresenting part of the gay community, Ang Lee is able to have a wider audience empathize with the relationship between Jack and Ennis, thereby potentially supporting those not represented in the film.

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