After Oscars Flop, Hollywood Asks: Why Did Brokeback Mountain Lose?

March 7th, 2006 12:16 AM

Last night's 78th Oscar presentation was the lowest rated show in the last 20 years, failing to break the 40-million mark in viewership. Why? Well, aside from the Hollywood-left’s love affair with anything that cast George W. Bush in the worse possible light, the reason is as plain as the botox in Jennifer Lopez’ lips:

The rather obvious and politically -charged "social message" that Hollywood attempted to swamp the American movie-goer with just didn’t entertain, and didn't sell tickets.

Oscar show producer Gil Cates pointed out that the films nominated for best picture simply weren't the ones viewers actually went to see last year. "All five of the best picture nominees together, I don't think (their box office) goes to 250 million. 'Narnia' goes to $800 million by itself," Cates said.

Still undeterred after last night's clear and unambiguous message from the American movie-goer, Hollywood and the mainstream media now exam the issue: "Why Brokeback Mountain Lost."

"Perhaps the truth really is, Americans don't want cowboys to be gay," said screenwriter Larry McMurtry, 69, who shared an Oscar for best adapted screenplay with Diana Ossana for "Brokeback." Maybe so, but that will not stop the political press from chiming in with their own take:

--Los Angeles Times critic Kenneth Turan saw "Brokeback's" failure as a sign that Hollywood was not yet ready to grant the topic of homosexual love mainstream respectability. "Despite all the magazine covers it graced, despite all the red-state theaters it made good money in, despite (or maybe because of) all the jokes late-night talk show hosts made about it, you could not take the pulse of the industry without realizing that 'Brokeback Mountain' made a number of people distinctly uncomfortable. So for people who were discomfited by 'Brokeback Mountain' but wanted to be able to look themselves in the mirror and feel like they were good, productive liberals, 'Crash' provided the perfect safe harbor."

--"Film buffs and the politically minded will be arguing this morning about whether the Best Picture Oscar to 'Crash' was really for the film's merit or just a cop-out by the Motion Picture Academy so it wouldn't have to give the prize to 'Brokeback Mountain,"' said Washington Post critic Tom Shales.

The "surprise upset" winner of the night, "Crash," another movie that walks a social tightrope in race relations, was commented upon by "Brokeback" screenwriter Larry McMurtry. McMurty told reporters backstage he believed that Crash's setting in Los Angeles helped it because many of the 6,000 members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences live in the city. Nice try, Larry.

The simple facts are as follows: Americans do not like to be told what they should believe or not believe, nor how they should act. George Clooney may "be proud" that he belongs to the Hollywood left, but the vast majority of Americans are not. However, Clooney did manage to say something that rings true with most, and that is that " We are a little bit out-of-touch in Hollywood."

Indeed. "Brokeback Mountain" lost because Americans can sense a social movement that is honest and open in its intent, but not threatening in its rise. Hollywood thought to be America's conscious, or trendsetters, in this case. Almost predictably, Brokeback and Hollywood lose.

In the end, it is what will sell tickets that will straighten out the Hollywood egalitarians and elite. If not, then look for the Oscars to continue to fall in the ratings, and the Clooneys of Hollywood to continue to be “out of touch."