Queering the representation of the masculine 'West' in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain

McDonald, Janet (2007) Queering the representation of the masculine 'West' in Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain. Gay and Lesbian Issues and Psychology Review, 3 (2). pp. 79-85. ISSN 1833-4512

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[Abstract]: The colonial construction of Western dominance over Eastern “others” features predominantly in postcolonial theory (as do those of the North over the South). Assumptions about geographical placement and origin are also sources of gendered space, especially if one subscribes to the representation of female space as “inner” or domestic and masculine spaces as “outer” or embracing of the outdoors. Popular notions of the cowboy as a an embodiment of “outdoor” masculinity endorses and repeats the “colonial” West as a dominant and desirable masculine representation which has popularly evolved over time as a stable gender category through the use of cowboy imagery to sell “manly” habits such as smoking (Marlborough Man), to selling the hypermasculinised American Masculine Dream (John Wayne).

The characters from Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain (BBM) are from the great American cowboy traditions; the frontiering West of Wyoming and Texas. The film uses the celebrity bodies of Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger to queer the cowboy whilst simultaneously maintaining the dominate homosocial attributes of the colonial West. The actors’ actual bodies are neither queer nor cowboy, and their celebrity status suggests a gender performative “fraud”; yet their “star power” of the actors alone has catapulted BBM from independent film obscurity into mainstream discussion and popular culture.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Accepted version deposited in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher.
Faculty / Department / School: Historic - Faculty of Arts - Department of Theatre
Date Deposited: 16 Jul 2009 05:18
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2013 23:20
Uncontrolled Keywords: postcolonial, celebrity, queer, cowboy, West, Western, Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain, performing masculinity, performing gender
Fields of Research : 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1904 Performing Arts and Creative Writing > 190404 Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies
Socio-Economic Objective: C Society > 95 Cultural Understanding > 9501 Arts and Leisure > 950105 The Performing Arts (incl. Theatre and Dance)
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/5374

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