Friday, December 30, 2005

Renewing Your Mind vs. Changing Your Mind

David Kupelian has given us some excellent insight regarding the hollywood based propaganda in the movie Brokeback Mountain in his article, Brokeback Mountain: Rape of the Marlboro Man.” This film has already earned seven nominations for the Golden Globes, and multiple Oscar nominations will surely follow. To give some backround of the movie, let’s first look at a review by Marcy Dermansky:


Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain,” based on the short story by Annie Proulx, is frank in its depiction of homosexuality. Unlike the chaste coupling of Tom Hanks and Antonio Banderas in 1993’s “Philadelphia,” Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger’s gay relationship happens on screen. Not only do the lovers establish their connection on an emotional level, they also kiss and hug, repeatedly, and make love in a tent on the titular mountain. Genuine progress has definitely been made. “The Celluloid Closet” provides an excellent grounding in the subject, and Lee can be commended for his contribution. “Brokeback Mountain” is an epic love story about gay cowboys and that, in itself, is something. Otherwise, the film is not one to get particularly excited over. (“BrokeBack Mountain”)


Kupelian provides a fuller plot script in his article. Kupelian points out Hollywood’s usage of the “Malboro Man” as a means of propagating this relationship. The “American cowboy, with all of the powerful feelings that image evokes in us, of independence, self-confidence, wide-open spaces and authentic Americanism” is utilized in the portrayal of an emotionally tragic homosexual relationship that eventually ends in the death of a partner as the supposed result of a hateful and homophobic society. The pains of Ennis Del Mar pierce the hearts of the audience. As Kupelian says, “Mission accomplished.” We feel the hurting in Ennis. Kupelian writes:


Lost in all of this, however, are towering, life-and-death realities concerning sex and morality and the sanctity of marriage and the preciousness of children and the direction of our civilization itself. So please, you moviemakers, how about easing off that tight camera shot of Ennis’s suffering and doing a slow pan over the massive wreckage all around him? What about the years of silent anguish and loneliness Alma stoically endures for the sake of keeping her family together, or the terrible betrayal, suffering and tears of the children, bereft of a father? None of this merits more than a brief acknowledgment in “Brokeback Mountain.”

What is important to the moviemakers, rather, is that the viewer be made to feel, and feel, and feel again as deeply as possible the exquisitely painful loneliness and heartache of the homosexual cowboys – denied their truest happiness because of an ignorant and homophobic society.

Thus are the Judeo-Christian moral values that formed the very foundation and substance of Western culture for the past three millennia all swept away on a delicious tide of manufactured emotion. And believe me, skilled directors and actors can manufacture emotion by the truckload. It’s what they do for a living.


In one emotional sweep, “people’s minds have been changed” (according to co-star Jake Gyllenhaal). Hollywood, therefore, utilizes the emotion of the big screen, the seduction of the musical score, and the appealing cinematography and compelling acting to propagate a new perspective. As the loss of a loved one (one loved not just by Ennis, by the way) stings like poison, Hollywood wants us to feel the “hateful” and “homophobic” oppression against a homosexual relationship between two cowboys. The scary part is that this could be done to promote any principle, as Kupelian rightly states:


Do we understand that Hollywood could easily produce a similar movie to “Brokeback Mountain,” only this time glorifying an incest relationship, or even an adult-child sexual relationship? Like “Brokeback,” it too would serve to desensitize us to the immoral and destructive reality of what we’re seeing, while fervently coaxing us into embracing that which we once rightly shunned.

All the filmmakers would need to do is skillfully make viewers experience the actors’ powerful emotions of loneliness and emptiness – juxtaposed with feelings of joy and fulfillment when the two “lovers” are together – to bring us to a new level of “understanding” for any forbidden “love.” Alongside this, of course, they would necessarily portray those opposed to this unorthodox “love” as Nazis or thugs. Thus, many of us would let go of our “old-fashioned” biblical ideas of morality in light of what seems like the more imminent and undeniable reality of human love in all its diverse forms.

A “Brokeback”-type movie could easily be made, for instance, to portray a female school teacher’s affair with a 14-year-old student as “a magnificent love story.” And I’m not talking about the 2000 made-for-TV potboiler, “All-American Girl: The Mary Kay Letourneau Story,” about the Seattle school teacher who seduced a sixth-grade student, went to prison for statutory rape, and later married the boy having had two children by him. I’m talking about a big-budget, big-name Hollywood masterpiece aimed at transforming America through film, just as Hitler relied on master filmmaker Leni Riefenstahl to make propaganda films to manipulate the emotions of an entire nation.

In place of “Brokeback Mountain’s” scene with the castrated homosexual, the “adult-child love story” could have a similar scene in which, as a young girl, the future teacher’s mother took her to see the body of a woman who had fallen in consensual “love” with a 14-year-old boy, only to be brutalized, her breasts cut off, and bludgeoned to death – all by Nazi-like bigoted neighbors. (So that’s why she couldn’t be honest and open about her later relationship with her student.)

Inevitably, such a film would make us doubt our former condemnation of adult-child sex, or at least reduce our outrage as we gained more “understanding” and sympathy for the participants. It would cause us to ask the same question one reviewer asked after seeing “Brokeback Mountain”: “In an age when the fight over gay marriage still rages, ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ the tale of two men who are scarcely even allowed to imagine being together, asks, through the very purity with which it touches us: When it comes to love, what sort of world do we really want?”


“Brokeback Mountain” documents a homosexual “love” story. But how do we define love? This is what is being pushed: if it is emotional, if it can grip your heart by music and successful cinematography, then it is love. Love is obsession, here the obsession that, as Kupelian notes, “destroys marriages and is based on constant lies, deceit and neglect of one’s children.” Is that how we desire to define love? But as long as the music plays, the obsession broadcasted on the widescreen is passionate love: love that can only be broken in death caused by a supposedly misunderstanding, misinformed society. Kupelian further writes:


Ultimately, propaganda works because it washes over us, overwhelming our senses, confusing us, upsetting or emotionalizing us, and thereby making us doubt what we once knew. Listen to what actor Jake Gyllenhaal, who plays Jack, told the reporter for Entertainment magazine about doing the “love” scenes with Heath Ledger:

“I was super uncomfortable … [but] what made me most courageous was that I realized I had to try to let go of that stereotype I had in my mind, that bit of homophobia, and try for a second to be vulnerable and sensitive. It was f—in’ hard, man. I succeeded only for milliseconds.”

Gyllenhaal thinks he was “super uncomfortable” while being filmed having simulated homosexual sex because of his own “homophobia.” Could it be, rather, that his conflict resulted from putting himself in a position, having agreed to do the film, where he was required to violate his own conscience? As so often happens, he was tricked into pushing past invisible internal barriers – crossing a line he wasn’t meant to cross. It’s called seduction.

This is how the “marketers of evil” work on all of us. They transform our attitudes by making us feel as though our “super uncomfortable” feelings toward embracing unnatural or corrupt behavior of whatever sort – a discomfort literally put into us by a loving God, for our protection – somehow represent ignorance or bigotry or weakness.


People’s minds are indeed being changed. To Gyllenhaal, “That’s amazing.” To the Biblically informed Christian, that is devastating. The call to the Christian, however, is not to “change” the mind. But it is to “renew” the mind.

Romans 12 1I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Evan May.

[Hat Tips: Nina and James White]


  1. Excellent article you linked to. I don't like the writing on the wall, but at least my eyes are open to it. How sad that our culture is so easily bemused by such obvious social programming.

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